Another year, another round of our area being largely stiffed in the Indiana high school boys basketball preseason polls.
It’s nothing to be surprised about.
It’s nothing worth getting worked up about, either, given that we do have the luxury of actual games, and the luxury of that thing called a state tournament that punctuates the silliness of the polls each year.
If you’ll go back over the years and compare final finishes to even the final polls, let alone the preseason polls, you’ll find many examples of the silliness.
Nevertheless, I did receive emails in the last week from both a NorthWood fan and an Elkhart Christian Academy fan, each miffed that their teams were not even mentioned in this year’s Associated Press Class 3A and 1A preseason polls, respectively.
Naturally, each wondered if I was among those involved in the oversights (I wasn’t).
In 3A, 25 schools were mentioned. In 1A, 26 schools were mentioned.
What fans need to understand is that polls in high school sports, especially the preseason polls, are a joke.
“Poll” ought to be short for “pulling your leg.”
Cutting to the chase and barring injuries, I’m reasonably confident there won’t be 25 teams better than the Panthers and Eagles in their respective classes this season.
Now, that doesn’t guarantee either will get out of its own sectional — better teams could emerge within those sectionals alone — but NorthWood and ECA are shaping up as potentially special groups.
For the record, the only AP preseason mention we did get is Concord at No. 20 among the 30 mentioned teams in 4A and Westview at No. 15 among the 27 mentioned teams in 2A.
Shifting to the coaches’ all-class poll, we don’t have any teams in the latest Top 20, and only Penn among the 45 teams that received votes.
Early-season and preseason polls are based largely on how teams did the previous season, and the Minutemen (19-2), Warriors (20-4) and Kingsmen (17-5) did have wonderful seasons last winter.
The reality, though, whether it offends voters or not, is that none of them ever get around to seeing all the teams, and most of them don’t put much effort into asking about teams outside their areas, either.
Myself, I begged out of the AP poll roughly 20 years ago.
I’d rather spend my time working on a local story than trying to consider the relative merits of a bunch of teams from Southern Indiana and Central Indiana that I’ve never seen play.
What I’ve learned is that maybe our own teams take a sliver more of a hit for that, but they would be taking the major one that they take regardless.
Frankly, our area is sometimes the Rodney Dangerfield of the state field.
Understandably, when those in Central Indiana and Southern Indiana consider Northern Indiana at all, they start with the state’s second-most populated city, Fort Wayne, or the heavily populated industrial belt that is Northwest Indiana.
So, every year we get overlooked.
And plenty of years we have teams that make deep runs that surprise everybody but ourselves.
As it so happens, last season was the first year we didn’t have at least one area team win at least a sectional in 90 years.
Reason for concern? Nope.
We’ll continue to be fine, and we’ll continue to be overlooked.
Just enjoy the games and just ignore the polls.
Speaking of Elkhart Christian, Elkhart Memorial makes its first-ever trip to ECA on Tuesday, Dec. 3, for each club’s opener.
That means the Crimson Chargers will head to a venue with roughly one-tenth of the capacity of their own facility, North Side Gym at 7,373.
The Chargers won the first-ever meeting between the schools a year ago, 69-60 at North Side.
Jimtown also plays its opener Tuesday, journeying to Howe, while Bethany Christian hosts potential 1A sectional opponent Lakeland Christian.
Tuesday, Dec. 3
Elkhart Memorial (0-0) at Elkhart Christian (0-0)
Jimtown (0-0) at Howe (0-0)
Lakeland Christian (0-1) at Bethany Christian (0-2)
Friday, Dec. 6
Elkhart Central (0-1) vs. Elkhart Memorial at North Side Gym
Glenn (1-0 before SB Riley Tuesday) at Concord (0-0)
Clinton Christian (1-1 before LaLumiere Blue Tuesday) at Jimtown
Goshen (1-1) at Bremen (0-2)
Northridge (2-0) at SB Riley (1-0 before Glenn Tuesday)
NorthWood (0-0) at Triton (1-0 before Plymouth Tuesday)
Fairfield (1-0) at Prairie Heights (0-1)
Hamilton (1-1) at Elkhart Christian
Manchester (2-0) at Wawasee (0-2)
Penn (1-0) at Valparaiso (2-0)
Marian (0-1) at New Prairie (0-0)
Churubusco (0-1) at Westview (1-1)
Saturday, Dec. 7
Elkhart Central at Goshen
LaVille (0-0 before North Judson Tuesday) at NorthWood
Bethany Christian at Prairie Heights
Wawasee at West Noble (2-0)
Marian at FW Luers (0-0) (girl/boy DH beginning with girls game at 5 p.m.)