Just like with the NE8 and ACAC, Bounce is going to keep his personal boys basketball preview going by checking in on the Northeast Corner Conference and some area programs.
The NECC should be a lot of fun this year with plenty of teams that could make waves, much like on the girls side of the conference.
And hold your horses SAC fans. Bounce’s comprehensive SAC preview is coming too.
Northeast Corner Conference
Westview proved nearly unbeatable a year ago and the same can be said in conference this season. The Warriors have proven depth and are starting the season as number one in Class 2A in the AP Poll, showing the respect others have for this program.
Angola does a lot of really fun stuff under coach Ed Bentley. They lose a lot of experience and leadership to last spring’s graduation, but they have always been so consistently fun under Bentley, there is no reason to assume they won’t be this year. Sophomore Joel Knox will be fun and senior Jack Hilyard will control a lot of the pace again. The addition of Blake Pocock as a transfer from Carroll helps bolster their senior class.
Churubusco showed a lot of strides last season with a talented group of kids, headed by Jackson Paul, who is a strong true point guard option. The Eagles will be able to score a lot more than many other NECC teams.
Charlie Yoder of Westview is one of the conference’s best scorers and yet is a do it all kind of guy too. Bounce loves watching Yoder go to work, moving as well without the ball as he does with it in his hands. Defenses beware, keep your eyes on Yoder all night because he is a fun combination of overwhelmingly good and sneakily good.
Elijah Hales of Westview is one of the conference’s true point guards who creates offense for himself and others. Hales will control the tempo of many games, good luck taking that control away from him.
Jackson Paul of Churubusco is as good as his brother Jalen. If I said no more, that is a huge compliment. He is a tough as nails competitor that can match up move for move with any other guard in the NECC and most of them in the area. He is a pace setter for Churubusco and if he can get everyone else to play at his intensity level, the Eagles get tough to stop.
Mason Garland of Churubusco will finally get to fully expose his game to the conference. Garland wasn’t eligible until the postseason last year after a transfer from Carroll. He showed what he can do with 18 points against Canterbury in one of just two varsity games last year and will be a threat to score from anywhere on the court.
Trevor Franklin of West Noble may be one of the best defenders in the conference. The Chargers aren’t considered a team likely to contend for a NECC title, but Franklin will keep in spoiler range throughout the year.
Players on the Rise
Ridley Zolman of Central Noble brings an unorthodox offense sometimes to the Cougars. He could really explode as one of the breakout players on the conference as he takes on the leadership role.
Brayton Bonar of Churubusco can really shoot the ball better than he is given credit for. In his third season of varsity action, Bonar is seasoned in the NECC and his experience can’t be replaced. Bounce wants to see him battle more inside this season.
Evan Leach of Angola is going to add a good shooting touch for Angola up from the junior varsity. The senior is smooth and often unassuming, but make no mistake he will be a weapon in Angola’s arsenal.
Cordell Hofer of Fairfield rebounds the basketball very well. Fairfield has holes in their lineup because of graduation and Hofer will need to expand his game to fill those holes. But we already know he is tough on the glass.
Caleb Furst of Blackhawk Christian is going to be dominant in the post a lot of the year, but don’t rule out his midrange game. Furst can float out and his size will be hard to defend from 15 feet in.
Frankie Davidson of Blackhawk Christian will be a great leader for the Braves. He knows the program as well as anyone following in the footsteps of his dad, coach Marc and his brothers and former Brave standouts Wesley and Will. Blackhawk Christian basketball is Davidson basketball and Frankie has long been baptized in it all.
Nolan Groninger of Warsaw is a quality point guard who sees the floor very well and averaged 5.1 assists per game while also leading Warsaw in scoring. As the basketball IQ of the guys around him rises with experience, Groninger will be lethal moving the ball.
Spencer Sroufe of Whitko averaged a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds per game last year, while adding 3.7 blocks. The 6-foot-7 senior will be one of the best big men threats in the Three Rivers Conference.
Players on the Rise
Thane Creager of Manchester was Wabash County’s JV Player of the Year as a sophomore and will be a terrific addition to Manchester’s varsity team. He will be a great left hand man for Weston Hamby and the Squires. Creager really gets after it on defense and is the kind of energy guy anyone would like in their lineup.
Noah Wolfe of Canterbury has long been a threat shooting the ball. We saw flashes of that last year, but Wolfe’s game could really advance under the leadership of new coach Chase Sanders. If the Cavs’ offense can be fast paced, defenses will be forced to collapse and give Wolfe good looks at the basket.
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