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The Bucs Basketball Pantheon — Keon Thompson Jr. joins Merrillville’s Master Class

By: , January 29, 2020, 2:22 pm

Merrillville junior hoop king Keon Thompson Jr. just broke loose for a school-record 52 points in a single game last week. He’s a shoo-in to end his prep career as the Pirates all-time leading scorer.

Let’s take a look back at Bucs Baller past and break down the best Merrillville hoopsters of the modern era (in alphabetical order):

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Ray Bulatovich (Class of 1972) — Led all of Hooiserland in scoring as a senior at 36 point per night. Just a gunner with an ultra-quick trigger finger. Played in college at Tennessee Tech and Northeast Oklahoma.

The Carrabine Boys (Cary ’75  & Casey ’83) — Classic ‘Hurrying Hoosier’ types, played fast and with tremendous purpose and poise. Cary played at Oklahoma, Casey at Denver.

Jamal Davis (Class of 1997) — The Bucs’ current all-time scoring champ at 1,275 (Thompson finished last week with 1,105). Davis was a human danger zone in the paint. He played in college at Purdue and Cincinnati. As a sophomore, helped lead Merrillville to the state championship game.

Brett Fedak (Class of 1995) — Fiery forward with ice in his veins. Was tickling twine in the ’95 state tournament when he spurred the Pirates into the state finals.

Tom Jelesky & Tim Seneff (Class of 1978) — Pair of football studs that played hoops with a gridiron mentality and helped take the Bucs’ on a Cinderella run into the final four. Both played football at Purdue and Jelesky played in the NFL.

Dave Joseforsky (Class of 1993) — Precision personified in a plucky point guard and the all-time Bucs’ dime master. Star quarterback who moved to linebacker in college at Navy.

T.J. Lux (Class of 1995) — Great big fella, great coach. Took the Pirates to the state finals as a senior and then starred in the frontcourt in college at Northern Illinois. Excelled on the bench at his alma mater until stepping away last year.* 

Jeff Markle (Class of 1978) — The quintessential sharpshooter and late-game closer. Teamed with Bucs’ all-time greats and future Big Ten football players Tim Seneff and Tom Jelelsky (Purdue/NFL for Jelesky) to take Merrillville to the final four. He played in college at Valparaiso.

Josh Mayo (Class of 2005) — Maybe the most underrated Merrillville hoopster ever, a fearless floor general and the ultimate competitor. Mayo had an all-league career in college at UIC and a long pro tenure overseas.

Bill Mead (Class of 1982) — “Dollar Bill” was straight money in the clutch. He played at Southern Indiana.

Lonnie Randolph (Class of 2001) — Moxie, motor, lockdown defender in the backcourt . He played at Drake.

Lou Stefanovic (Class of 1981) — Gritty power forward who had a soft touch around the rim and made history in college at Illinois State, nailing a game-winner in the 1984 NCAA Tournament for the Redbirds’ first-ever dub in the Big Dance.

John Wilczynski (Class of 1987) — A workhorse wonder on the wing with an off-the-charts hardwood IQ. He played his college ball at Akron.

Eugene Wilson (Class of 1999) — Probably the best overall athlete to ever suit up for the Pirates, Wilson was an absolute terror out of the backcourt and a future starting NFL safety on two Super Bowl-winning teams in New England.

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* — Lux coached 11 D-I players in the 2010s and took two clubs (2013, 2017) to semistate in Class 4A.