What a week of basketball! Heck, Bounce could say that every week around this area. But, this week Bounce was able to take in a trip of games and his insiders had him well in tune with what was going on elsewhere.
So many schedules ramp up into December with tougher non-conference work, the opening next Friday of SAC girl/boy double headers and forthcoming shootouts and double headers. This is, as the holiday song says, the most wonderful time of the year. Although, Bounce would trade and Christmas tree in for the beautiful sound of a basketball pounding the floor.
BRAYTON IS BETTER
Despite a short bench and a conference that holds Class 2A #1 juggernaut Westview, the Churubusco Eagles have a lot to look forward to. They may not have a grasp on the NECC title — especially after Friday’s big loss to that buzzsaw of a Westview team — but Churubusco could make postseason waves.
Bounce wanted to see them in action, so with my Friday booked, I took the trip to Leo on Wednesday to see the Eagles do battle with the Lions in a fair road test.
I left with even more admiration for Brayton Bonar. The 6-foot-2 senior has been through a load of different looks at Churubusco, including being part of their last (and only) Sectional title in 2017. As a secondary piece on that team, he was thrust into a bigger role last year with a significantly younger team. This year, his presence will continue to be important because of the kind of things he did Wednesday at Leo: a little bit of everything.
Bonar has improved in many way ways. It doesn’t hurt that he moves like a tank with the engine of a lamborghini. Standing in his way as he tucks the ball under his arm and drives to the basket isn’t exactly what I would call a good idea. He was able to impose his will on Leo by doing so, by cleaning up second chance points and also by showing off a little shooting prowess. You don’t see kids of Bonar’s stature running the break as well as he does either. Outside of Charlie Yoder and Elijah Hales from the aforementioned Westview, you cannot find many players in the NECC who are as multidimensional as Bonar.
He ended Wednesday’s win over Leo with a game high 24 points and a statement to be made. It was also Churubusco’s first win at Leo in 16 years and their first season opening win during coach Chris Paul’s four years at the helm.
The pieces are all there for this Eagle team to make a Sectional title run in Class 2A. Outside of Bonar, Jackson Paul is one of the most feared sophomores in the area. He is a pass first point guard who can score at will and I’m not sure of many more dangerous qualities in a point guard. Despite not scoring until late into the second quarter Wednesday, Paul ended up with 19 points. Despite drawing the ire and boos of the Leo student section for some reason, senior Mason Garland finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds on Wednesday.
Behind Bonar, Bounce’s favorite player on Wednesday was sophomore Luke McClure, who isn’t a refined scorer but just strikes Bounce as a junkyard dog of a player that will get after it all season for Churubusco. The bench may not be deep, but the pieces are certainly there.
HOW GOOD COULD BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN GET?
Despite winning its first two games by a combined 80 points, we still don’t know just how good Blackhawk Christian is.
I mean, yes, they are good, but beating two teams that are in rebuild mode (North Side way, WAY more than New Haven) isn’t a great barometer.
But one thing is for sure, Frankie Davidson is arguably the best high school basketball player on the Braves’ roster.
Sophomore Caleb Furst has the skill set and the potential to be a major Division I basketball player. He will be an Indiana Mr. Basketball candidate in two years. But Davidson is such a problem in so many ways at the high school level. His fundamentals fit the prep game, from his outside shooting prowess to his quick burst on the baseline to the bucket where he routinely finishes with a thundering dunk.
Davidson is perfectly content going to DII University of Indianapolis, but he could go higher if he wanted to.
Tuesday, Davidson scored 31 points while Furst had 20, Zane Burke scored 11 and Trinity Clark and Marcus Davidson each scored 10 to lead ten different scorers against North Side. On Friday, it was Furst with 33 points, Frankie Davidson with 13 and nine different scorers in a 75-49 win over New Haven.
A SCARE FOR HOMESTEAD
The Spartans stayed undefeated over the weekend with victories over Carroll and Chicago Marist, but the bigger story is junior Rylie Parker.
The guard entered Friday as the team’s leading scorer averaging 12.2 a game, but left the game after falling awkwardly at center court in the second half. She initially did not put any weight on her right leg, but was seen after the game carefully testing that leg with her knee heavily wrapped.
Parker did not see action on Saturday on the trip to Illinois. It is hoped that she will not miss much more time.
Another scare for Homestead was early Friday as Bounce made the trip to Carroll. The Chargers, significantly less experienced than Homestead, actually led 13-8 early before Homestead stormed back.
SO WHO IS EAST NOBLE?
On Tuesday, we saw an East Noble team that could be dominant in areas and for stretches, but just didn’t have enough depth against Snider. On Saturday, they showed they too had depth and more fight as they came back to edge Carroll.
My column earlier in the week touched on the Snider/East Noble battle, but focused a lot on Snider, who did so many things right to garner the victory. But what it also didn’t say is this: Ali Ali made an early and poignant case for why he is the best basketball player in this area for most of the contest. He scored 26 points, was dominant inside and looked as focused and smooth as I have ever seen him. Ali has always played hard, but there was something about the no nonsense demeanor he displayed that made me think this is a different Ali.
Yet outside of Ali, Hayden Jones and Brent Cox, I noted then that I wanted more. Those three are viciously dangerous on any given night. But where was the depth? On Saturday, they delivered in what wasn’t a “must win” opposite Carroll; but as East Noble, you certainly don’t want to drop two straight at home to possible future Sectional opponents.
Seven Knights scored and performed as East Noble had to claw back to win the game, where Ali was not able to be effective early. East Noble was able to hold a one point halftime lead despite Ali not scoring in the first half and Carroll’s David Ejah putting up 12 of the Chargers’ 20 first half points. Then in the third, Ejah scored six more and the Knights as a team scored just two points.
But like with the Snider game, East Noble fought when things looked bleak. That is the quality that most stands out as we advance in this still young season. Midway through the fourth, Ali scored five straight points (of just seven for the game) to put the Knights back in the lead. Carroll swung hard at East Noble, but they had responders everywhere with 11 points from Jones and eight from Nate Dickson. Then a couple of big charges taken by Michael Bender.
It is what I would call a good bounce back.
- Canterbury boys got their first win under coach Chase Sanders on Tuesday with a buzzer beating, maybe mild upset over Bishop Luers. The Knights controlled big parts of the game, but what impressed Shooter the most were the four major scoring performances of the game. Noah Drapala had 22 points, hitting six threes in the win while teammate Will Shank added 21 points and 12 rebounds. Bishop Luers was led by 20 points each from Jalen Causey and Demarcus Hudson. Four different 20-plus point scorers and Noah Wolfe of Canterbury capping a 12 point game with a three at the buzzer.
- With Wednesday’s 58-30 win over Canterbury, South Adams girls coach Brett Freeman became the winningest coach in program history. He passed former coach Randy Minch with the 89th win of his South Adams career.
- West Noble’s girls forced 40 turnovers in a 44-29 win over Westview
- On Friday, Central Noble’s girls beat Angola 43-32. Not only did it avenge last year’s lone NECC loss for the eventual Class 2A state champ, it was the first win for them at Angola since 2004. The Hornets fought back valiantly behind three three-pointers and 16 points from Hanna Knoll. The Cougars, at 9-0, tie the best start in program history. The Cougars had three girls in double digit scoring led by Meleah Leatherman’s 15 points. In the night cap, the Central Noble boys got 16 points from Ridley Zolman to beat Angola 48-45. Lucas Deck closed out the win with clutch free throws to complete the school’s first ever single night varsity sweep of Angola.
- Behind 17 points and nine rebounds from Lydia Reimbold on Friday night, Bishop Luers beat North Side 54-29. The single win may not seem like much in the grand scheme of the season, but after starting 0-3, the Knights have now won five games in a row.
- Hey, Homestead isn’t going to be as good right? They lost some major pieces to graduation. They lost some major pieces to football focus. And…they do not care. The Homestead resume is always good. This year, it has now started with Huntington North, then the Friday/Saturday back-to-back with wins over Warsaw (53-44) and Marion (57-41). It was Zak Krueger again leading the way Friday with 15 points while Luke Goode led the Spartans on Saturday with 23 points.
- A coach Adam Gray led Heritage looks very scary in a wide open ACAC. While Leo is in rebuild mode, Friday’s 65-35 win over the Lions sent a major message. Jaydon Harris scored 21 points while tying Greg Buuck’s 23 year old program record with seven three pointers, then Cameron Mitchell added 18 points and Alex Burton scored 14. Oh yeah, they shot 58 percent from the field. When is the last time Heritage was capable of that kind of offensive output?
- How does Huntington North bounce back from a season opening loss? A good win on November 24 against Mississinewa. Next? Hold last year’s Class 1A state finalist Southwood to six second half points on Friday in a 56-27 win. Sawyer Stoltz played his best game in quite some time with 24 points and 14 rebounds.
- Sydney Curry: point proven. He hasn’t played in the major public eye for two seasons. Now he has, now Northrop is 4-0. This week only, Curry has put up three double-double performances. On Tuesday, he had 16 points and 14 rebounds in a win over New Haven. On Friday, he had 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Bruins won at Columbia City. Then on Saturday, he put up 17 points and 17 rebounds in a 72-66 win over South Bend Adams. Point proven.
- Garrett’s girls have been lost in the NECC talk despite a 5-3 start. On Saturday, freshman Faith Owen continued a good start to her career, hitting 5-of-6 three pointers in a 49-36 conference win over Eastside.
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