Chesterton Tribune



Basketball tourney road familiar to Fred Mitchell (It runs in the family)

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Fred Mitchell has coached a lot of basketball games.

But, he had little trouble remembering 1987 when the Chesterton boys basketball team beat Valparaiso and Portage on back-to-back nights for a Sectional title.

“We had a good team,” Mitchell recalled. “It was my 10th year. Probably had three chances where I thought we might be the best team in the Sectional and didn’t get it done. We had beat Valpo and Portage earlier in the year.

“I knew we had a chance, but so did Valpo and Portage.”

The Trojans cruised to a 70-24 opening round victory over Washington Twp. before beating the Vikings on their home floor 55-52 in triple overtime. A 40-38 win over Portage allowed them to cut down the nets.

“We won 17 games that year,” Mitchell said. “The championship game against Portage was very similar to Saturday night’s game this year. Low scoring, but never more than 3-4 points difference.”

The most recognizable name from that Trojan team was Matt Nover who would go on to play on three Big 10 Championship teams and in a Final Four at IU.

“Matt was in foul trouble in the championship and sat a lot of the first half,” Mitchell said. “Matt was a really good post player, like Jake (Wadding) is on this team. He was a great athlete. He still holds the high jump record at 7-1.”

The inside-outside combination of Nover and Marc Massa were the highlights of the Trojan offense. Both averaged about 16-17 points per game.

“Massa was a terrific shooter,” Mitchell said. “We could put them on the same side of the floor and you couldn’t double on Matt.”

The Trojans also had the guard combination of Brad Campbell and Matt Killosky, along with the inside presence of Danny Dickey.

“We played almost entirely a match-up zone because of our depth,” Mitchell said. “Danny played in the middle at about 6-4 and had really good instincts. He got his hands on a lot of passes.”

The lone Trojan to see significant time that weekend 32 years ago was Mike Bowgren.

“Mike could play any position,” Mitchell said. “He was a really smart player. We only played about six guys. That’s a difference with this year’s team. Coach Urban can play 8-10 kids a night if he wants to. And they are so much more athletic than we were.”

Mitchell was no newcomer to winning in ’87. He was a freshman at CHS in 1955 when his older brother Ron won the school’s first Sectional title. And then was around in 1968 when brother Larry won the second.

“I remember the celebration in ’55 when they won the first one,” Mitchell said. “We came back and had a snake dance when we got off the bus in the middle of town. We went everywhere. 200-300 kids met down there and we went through the bars and any restaurants. Any place there were people, we went through there.

“Went back to the high school from there and there were people all over the place.”

The Trojans will again be following the road laid out before them as they head to Michigan City for the Regional on Saturday.

In ’87, Chesterton beat West Central 72-48 in the opener before falling to Michigan City Rogers 79-52 in the finals.

“If you put a good product out on the floor, this town will back you,” Mitchell said. “We had more people this year at our games than I remember in a long time. And most of them were adults. There are a lot of older people in this town that love basketball and will travel. I would expect us to have a big crowd on Saturday.”



Posted 3/7/2019




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