Keelen’s Korner High School Basketball (1/25/16)

Keelen Barlow, Reporter

The start of this year’s IHSAA boys’ basketball was an exciting time for me. After a long summer, I was ready for the hype of the annual winter circuit. This season has featured surprises so far, and that is sure to hold up the rest of the regular season and on into the IHSAA tournament. There are several interesting topics that stick out from the first few months of this season and I can’t wait until the conclusion of the regular season, and the start of the class tournaments.

Merrillville started the season as an unknown for me, but has proven they are a contender for the 4A state title. As of now, they are ranked 5th in the sagarin rankings, and number four in the state in the latest coaches poll. The Pirates opened the season with a shocking win at Southport 53-52. But they showed that the win over the then top ranked Cardinals was no fluke. Merrillville followed the win with 10 straight to start the season 11-0, and currently sits at 12-1. Merrillville has good wins this season that include South Bend Riley, East Chicago Central, and Hamilton Southeastern, who are all top fifty in the latest sagarin rankings.

Certainly a surprise team for most people around high school basketball in Indiana has to be Franklin Central. Last season, the Flashes were a 9-16 in a tough conference. But the Flashes have turned it around this season and are 10-2 so far. Franklin Central has again played a tough schedule this season, but has showed they are a team to be reckoned with a 75-55 win over Southport, and with others against Warren (twice) Ben Davis, Tindley, and Park Tudor in the first round in the Marion County tournament.

This season began with Southport High School leading the way ranked #1 in the state polls. With the dynamic duo of 6’10” Butler recruit Joey Brunk and recruiting star Paul Scruggs it was hard not to roll with Southport. But the Cardinals struggled out of the gate with a loss at home 53-52 Southport has kept above five hundred but has a surprising 6 losses on the season. The cardinals have played a very tough schedule, with games against Lawrence North (twice) Merrillville, Bloomington South, North Central, and Franklin Central who are all top 50 in the Sagarin rankings.

Big time recruits have definitely been a headline this season with many high profile recruits putting up big numbers this season. For years, Indiana has long been a big pipeline for really good boys and girls basketball players, and that tale still stands true in 2016.

6’4” shooting guard Romeo Langford, who is far and beyond the best player in the class of 2018, has put up big numbers for New Albany this season. The Bulldogs are currently 12-1 and ranked #1 in the state with their lone loss coming to #2 Pike. In a recent performance, Langford put up 44 in only three quarters of play in a 113-39 rout of 3A Scottsburg. Langford snapped the New Albany single game scoring record. He shot 17 for 20 in that game. In his next game against Charlestown, he put up 33 points in a 71-47 win. Langford is averaging 28 points per game this season, and still has two seasons to play. Langford has seen, and will see interest from many top D-1 programs including Butler, Louisville, Indiana, and UCLA.

 Adding to the list is five-star Virginia commit Kyle Guy, who was recently named to the McDonald’s All-American squad. The 6’2” all-around scoring guard has carried the way for Lawrence Central who is 12-4 on the year and ranked 9th in the state. Guy has averaged 24.6 points per game this season in 16 games. Guy notched 27 points against then top ranked North Central, and is ranked second in the state in scoring. Guy is certainly a possible NBA-er, and is certain to make a splash for the Cavaliers next season. He’s a killer behind the three-point line, and with the tandem of Guy and Mekhi Biffle LC is sure to make some noise come March.
With such a competitive landscape over not only 4A, but down through 3A, 2A, and 1A. There is no one dominant team in any class throughout the state, It should be an interesting finish to the rest of this year’s season.