Penn boys basketball preparing for Regional rematch against Chesterton

Elkhart Sectional wasn’t a cakewalk for No. 2 Kingsmen
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 7:00 PM EST
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - The Penn Kingsmen are one of several boys basketball teams here in Michiana that will play in Regional championships this Saturday.

Cutting down the Sectional nets at North Side Gym in Elkhart on Monday night was goal number one for the Kingsmen, who are ranked No. 2 in Class 4A. But Sectionals weren’t a cakewalk for a team that had just one regular season loss.

This season, Penn is beating teams by an average of over 31 points. That’s the highest of anyone in the state. But Goshen and Northridge, who Penn handled with very little issues in the regular season, suddenly gave them some issues.

The RedHawks trailed by just six at one point in the third quarter of their semifinal matchup, while Northridge fell in the championship by only 13.

16 Sports caught up with the Kingsmen ahead of their regional rematch with Chesterton this weekend. The team touched on the difference between the regular season and the playoffs.

“I feel like in Sectionals, it’s way more high of a reward, so everybody’s playing as best as they can,” said senior forward Dylan Derda. “Everybody’s trying to get as much done as they possibly could and just help their team get to a sectional championship.”

“I mean, knowing that you’re playing against Penn, you have the season on the line, and they had a lot of seniors on their team. We knew they weren’t going to go out easy,” said senior forward Josh Gatete.

“Sectionals, the intensity is always so much greater,” said senior guard Joe Smith. “In the regular season, people are more relaxed, but Sectionals is a different time when you’re playing for your life and you’re playing to be eliminated, so it’s definitely different.”

Penn will look to avenge last season’s Regional championship loss to Chesterton on Saturday in Michigan City. The Kingsmen touched on how much that loss is motivating them as they prepare for the rematch.

“I mean, it motivated us a lot”, said senior guard Markus Burton. “We come here every day, work, knowing that we’ve got to play Chesterton, and Saturday’s going to be a good game. I’m ready for it.”

Smith agreed with Burton.

“Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to this rematch for over a year now,” Smith said. “You know, I’ve been over to Chesterton. I’ve seen their photo with the Semi-State trophy, and I’ve really been looking forward to it.”

Tipoff on Saturday is set for 2 p.m. EST/1 p.m. CST.

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