Saturday night’s IHSAA Sectionals Championship game between the Chesterton Trojans and the Valparaiso Vikings was not just your average sectional title game; it was also a heated rivalry between two conference foes. After a 67-30 defeat at the hands of the Vikings just a little over two weeks ago, the Trojans responded with their first Sectional title in 32 years, bringing rowdy fans from across Northwest Indiana to witness history in the making.
Without a doubt, both teams’ credentials speak for themselves. The Trojans had a 21-6 record coming into Saturday night’s game, while the Vikings had a 22-7 record, but the Trojan’s last match against the Vikings was still fresh in their mind. They were ready for tonight's game.
“We prayed for another opportunity at Valpo and we got it,” said Chesterton Head Coach Marc Urban. “I told my boys we needed to man up and practice hard to prepare for this moment.”
Despite losing the tip-off the Trojans recovered a quick rebound off a missed Valpo attempt at two points and made an outlet pass for a quick layup, sending their student section into a frenzy.
As the fans went crazy, the Vikings tried to answer right back with a three-point opportunity from Valpo guard Brandon Newman, but his shot bounced off the rim and was quickly recovered again by the Trojans. This pattern would stick and continued throughout the first several minutes of the game, putting the Vikings down 7-0 before taking a timeout to collect themselves.
But after the timeout, it was more of the same for the Vikings, who only made 25% of their shot attempts in the game. But after another timeout, the Vikings found their footing and inched their way back, tying it at 17-17 before allowing a Trojan three-pointer, leaving them trailing by three as they went into halftime.
Chesterton fans never let up their enthusiasm. In the stands, they chanted, “I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win,” as their team broke the huddle to begin the second half of play and set the stage for an epic conclusion to Indiana sectional play.
But the Vikings would be unable to utilize Newman’s strength on the court due to Chesterton’s impeccable defense that surrounded him at all times. Toward the end of the game, Chesterton Trojan guard Tyler Nelson went to the free-throw line, where he made his shots and put the Trojans up by five, putting the game out of reach of Valpo as the clock expired.
The Vikings walked off the court after the final buzzer as friends and family cheered for their incredible season.
“It just wasn’t our night,” Valpo Head Coach Barak Coolman said. But he commended his team for their efforts in ending with a winning record of 22-7 in their regular season. The Vikings had a lot to be proud of.
Congratulations to the Chesterton Trojans for their IHSAA Sectionals Championship win! Now they must gear up for their Regional match against Penn High School on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. at Michigan City High School.