I saw it and I still have trouble believing it.
The Chesterton boys basketball team turned in its best performance of the
year on the biggest stage and blew out the Crown Point Bulldogs 83-57 in the
opening round of the IHSAA Sectional in Michigan City on Tuesday night.
“When you play with great confidence, you can’t underestimate what can
happen,” Chesterton coach Tom Peller said. “You can’t underestimate the
belief of the human spirit and perseverance. I’m really happy for the kids.
“We’re feeling real good right now.”
The Trojans jumped on top early with an 8-3 advantage before the Bulldogs
got back-to-back triples from Tom Bardeson for a 13-10 lead.
Chesterton responded to take a 17-16 lead after one period and a basket from
Jacob Wasielewski and 3-pointer from Donnie Johnson pushed the lead to
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Peller said. “The young
kids are really growing up and getting more consistent.”
Then the inevitable Crown Point run came. Utilizing a 1-3-1 half-court trap,
the Bulldogs forced four turnovers and went on a 10-2 run to build a 26-24
“They made a little run and we just didn’t panic,” Peller said. “We’ve gone
through a lot of wars and experience is no good unless you learn from it. I
think the things we’ve gone through this year are paying off right now.”
Cole Teal knocked down a triple to stop the CP run and start a 12-0 run for
the Trojans. Matt Holba, Chris Palombizio and KeMonte Price all scored
before Teal finished the run with another triple.
Teal finished with a game-high 27 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor
and a 10-of-13 performance at the foul line.
“Cole is such a competitor,” Peller said. “He’s a tough kid who understands
about competition and pressure. You can see the results of that on the
Palombizio scored to start the third quarter, Teal converted a conventional
3-point play, KJ Zelenika added a trey and Price scored in a 10-0 run that
pushed the lead to 46-28.
“We had a lead at halftime and I thought we came out with a really
aggressive attitude,” Peller said. “We were not going to play not to lose.
We were going to play to win and I thought we did that.”
Price hit on 7-of-10 shots from the floor on his way to an 18-point,
7-rebound performance, while Zelenika had 10 points including two triples.
“KeMonte and KJ really played well tonight,” Peller said. “As seniors, they
are really accepting the younger kids and its making us successful.”
The lead increased to 55-33 with 2:23 left in the third period when the
Bulldogs scored nine straight points to pull within 55-42.
Price halted the run and the Trojans hit on 18-of-19 free throws over the
final 5:36 to secure the victory.
“When you have a young group, the win last Friday night gave them a lot of
confidence,” Peller said. “I came in the locker room before the game and
just felt like they believed. And it showed.
“But, no way I expected to score 83 points tonight.”
Chesterton hit on 25-of-39 shots (64 percent) from the floor, including
7-of-10 from 3-point range. The Trojans also hit on 26-of-30 free throw
“We took the right shots,” Peller said. “We didn’t force things
On the other end of the floor, Crown Point hit on just 21-of-58 shots (36
percent) from the field and were 6-of-21 from 3-point land.
“Our defense has gotten better,” Peller said. “Our offense is better. Our
chemistry is good. We’re just gelling at the right time.”
Chesterton will face off against Merrillville, a 44-43 winner over
Valparaiso, on Friday night at Michigan City High School. Tip off time is
set for 6 p.m.
Crown Point 57
AT MICHIGAN CITY
Crown Point (16-12-12-17)
Tom Bardeson 6-15 3-6 18, Braxton Rice 0-6 0-0 0, Dejan Stefanovic 0-4 1-2
1, Zak Bostian 2-5 1-2 5, Bret Barclay 4-10 0-1 9, Alex Nickla 0-1 0-0 0,
Zach Plesac 6-11 0-0 14, Markus Kessler 1-2 0-0 2, Peter Parks 0-1 0-0 0,
Noah Burkholder 0-0 0-0 0, Nick Jeffirs 2-3 4-6 8. Totals 21-58 9-17 57.
KeMonte Price 7-10 4-5 18, Matt Holba 2-3 2-2 6, Chris Palombizio 4-6 4-4
13, Cole Teal 7-9 10-13 27, Jacob Wasielewski 2-6 0-0 4, KJ Zelenika 2-3 4-4
10, Mike Thanos 0-0 0-0 0, Avery Beeks 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Andert 0-0 0-0 0,
Donnie Johnson 1-1 0-0 3, Andrew Ralph 0-0 0-0 0, Brandon Roeske 0-1 2-2 2.
Totals 25-39 26-30 83.
goals: Crown Point 6-21 (Bardeson 3-10, Rice 0-2, Stefanovic 0-4 1-2 1,
Barclay 1-2, Plesac 2-5); Chesterton 7-10 (Palombizio 1-2, Teal 3-4,
Zelenika 2-3, Johnson 1-1). Rebounds: Crown Point 25 (Bardeson 6, Rice 6);
Chesterton 35 (Holba 8). Assists: Crown Point 5 (Stefanovic 4); Chesterton
10 (Holba 3). Steals: Crown Point 9 (Plesac 4); Chesterton 4 (Zelenika 2).