State’s No. 2 team, No. 1 player on deck for CHS

Travis Grayson guards Penn’s Markus Burton in the 2022 regional final at Michigan City High. TOBY GENTRY/photo

Travis Grayson guards Penn’s Markus Burton in the 2022 regional final at Michigan City High. TOBY GENTRY/photo

The deeper a basketball team goes in a postseason tournament, the tougher the opponents.

That’s certainly true for Chesterton, which after defeating DAC rivals Crown Point and Valparaiso in the sectional at Crown Point, both tough outs, now must confront the state’s No. 2-ranked team, which is led by the leading candidate for Indiana Mr. Basketball honors.

Chesterton (20-5) faces Penn (26-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday in a regional game at Michigan City.

Markus Burton, the state’s leading scorer with 29.7 points per game, also leads Penn in rebounding (5.6), assists (4.8) and steals (3.5).

Burton plays bigger than his height, which is 5-foot-10, is ultra quick and is headed for Notre Dame on a basketball scholarship.

Chesterton’s seventh-year coach Marc Urban coached Burton on the Indiana All- Starts last summer.

“He is, I would say, the frontrunner for Mr. Basketball,” Urban said. “With the numbers he has, with where he’s going, the season he’s having, they’ve lost one game, to (No.1) Ben Davis in the Hall of Fame Classic, and he does it all. He can shoot it, he can pull up. He’s fast.”

Chesterton defeated Penn in last year’s regional final at Michigan City, 59-48, pulling away late in the game.

Travis Grayson, now a freshman at Spring Arbor University, did a nice job of staying in front of Burton.

“Travis is quick, but after coaching (Burton) in the Junior All-Star stuff, he has just a little more quickness to him,” Urban said. “He is extremely fast. He is extremely quick. His handles are quick and he’s able to hit pull-ups. He’s able to hit deep 3s and he’s able to get all the way to the rim, so he’s going to be a tough guard for us.”

Owen Guest has drawn the opposition’s toughest non-post player all season, guarding players as short as Michigan City’s 5-9 Jamie Hodges. Guest even took on the assignment of checking Valpo’s 6-7 Mason Jones late in the sectional final.

After that game, Guest preferred savoring the moment of the victory over Valpo to thinking about the challenge of guarding Indiana’s leading Mr. Basketball candidate.

“You know, let’s worry about that tomorrow,” Guest said. “Let’s enjoy tonight and when it comes to scouting Penn I’m sure whatever Urban has planned, I’m sure it will be a great scout. I don’t even want to think about him right now.”

The Kingsmen aren’t a one-man team.

“Their other two guards are really good,” Urban said. “They’ve got two bigs who are both 6-8 and have a lot of size, so we’re going to have our hands full for sure.” Penn coach Al Rhodes ranks third in the state with 691 wins, behind only Burlington South’s J.R. Holmes (896) and Washington’s Gene Miller (749). Urban ranks first in the state with an .800 winning percentage.

Penn starts five seniors and all three perimeter players average in double figures in scoring and shoot 43% or better from 3-point range. All three also have impressive totals in the steals column.

Joe Smith averages 11.1 points a game and Joey Garwood averages 12.2. Penn’s two starting post players can clog the lane, making easy buckets difficult to come by for opposing drivers. Dylan Derda averages 5.3 points a game, Josh Gatete 3.5.

Penn leads the state in scoring with 77.74 points a game and in scoring margin (31.52

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *