BounceInset_2Bounce will admit: his girls rankings are just kind of treading water. We get one big meeting between top 10 teams this week again with South Side visiting Bellmont, but more of those big games are on the horizon. Once those big games are down, maybe we see some movement.

Four unbeaten teams remain in the area and nobody is playing any hotter basketball than Homestead, Central Noble and Norwell. If you expected competition in any conference this season, Bounce wouldn’t have thought that in the first week of December that only the ACAC looks up for grabs. And that conference is anybody’s race to win. Heritage sits with eight total wins, but Woodlan has seven and is 0-2 in the ACAC, while conference unbeatens Bluffton and Adams Central are playing well. Yet, at 2-6, Jay County has played a gauntlet of teams and may still be the favorite.

But I digress, because nobody from the ACAC is my top 10 this week.

1. HOMESTEAD (8-0, 3-0 SAC)

Why #1?

They have rallied off three more wins in the last week against a tough Chicago Marist (Ill.), a plucky Carroll and a [maybe] still ACAC favorite Jay County with an average margin of victory of 32.7 points in those games. The Spartans continue to just play on another level with a torrid pace shooting the ball no matter who they play.

Most impressive in the last week: putting down a quite good Marist team without Rylie Parker, the injured guard who has been one of their top scorers all season.

Why not higher?

I’m still trying to figure out a higher number.

Record versus OTH Top 10: 2-0

2. CENTRAL NOBLE (9-0, 4-0 NECC)

Why #2?

The Cougars have matched their best start in program history and dispatched rival Angola in a game that a lot of people falsely gave the Hornets hope in. Central Noble’s higher level in the NECC has been compounded by the fact they have a multitude of scorers. A couple of bigger conference foes await before the new year, but will that be a challenge?

Why not higher?

It would take a Homestead loss. But in any other universe where there aren’t Spartans, Central Noble would be the clear top team.

Record versus OTH Top 10: 1-0

3. NORWELL (8-0, 1-0 NE8)

Why #3?

Even with only the third best scoring offense in their conference, Norwell’s defense has slowed opponents consistently. Sophomore Kaylee Fuelling and Maiah Shelton have both had some quality games lately and there is no sign of a slow up for Norwell. Outside of Homestead, they could run through the next couple of weeks. The last time Norwell started 8-0, in 2015, they ended up 23-3 with a Sectional title.

Why not higher?

Next Tuesday at Homestead will actually tell us how big the gap is at the top of our rankings. Until then, they just have to deal with the fact that top teams in Classes 4A and 2A exist in this area.

Record versus OTH Top 10: 2-0

4. SOUTH SIDE (6-1, 3-0 SAC)

Why #4?

Juanita Goodwell’s schedule couldn’t be any more perfect in my eyes. Get some medium risk warm up games to start the year, take a little break to perfect what you can between games, come back with a tougher schedule in December before a blistering schedule in January. They have had one hiccup in the Northridge loss. Play it again and it probably isn’t the same outcome.

Why not higher?

South is still looking for that signature win. They have some good ones: Indianapolis Cathedral and Jay County come to mind. But, in the area they need a signature win. Don’t forget, they travel to Bellmont this Wednesday.

Record versus OTH Top 10: 0-0

5. CONCORDIA LUTHERAN (7-2, 2-1 SAC)

Why #5?

Concordia, I feel, has almost been forgotten. Why? Because people have short attention spans. While they’ve picked up wins over Leo and Wayne in the last week, post player Nautica Rogers has been getting tougher and stronger. The Cadets are still a very, very good team.

Why not higher?

Their two losses come to two of the four teams ahead of them.

Record versus OTH Top 10: 1-2

6. BELLMONT (7-1, 1-0 NE8)

Why #6?

With six straight wins, Bellmont looks to be up for quality challenges in four of their next six games before the new year. Grace Hunter is having one of her best seasons ever and that is hard to do when you look at the previous three years.

Why not higher?

Their loss to Concordia will always loom. That is, unless they can make waves hosting South Side this week.

Record versus OTH Top 10: 1-1

7. CARROLL (7-2, 1-1 SAC)

Why #7?

I was hesitant to move the Chargers up until they knocked off Northridge, to prove they could be a legit contender in the SAC; at least for the number two spot. Lets not forget this Northridge team beat South Side and Angola. Also impressive was the early defensive pressure that gave them a lead against Homestead, even if that did eventually end in a blowout loss.

Why not higher?

They have their signature early win out of the area, how about one in conference? Concordia looms on Friday, that is a good litmus test.

Record versus OTH Top 10: 0-1

8. WEST NOBLE (6-0, 2-0 NECC)

Why #8?

While their opponent base isn’t a wow factor (see more later), this is still an unbeaten team, one of just four left in our area. The Chargers’ turnover pushing defense has been great in wins over decent programs in Columbia City and, most recently, Westview. Bounce is looking forward to them visiting county neighbor West Noble next week.

Why not higher?

Their opponents have a combined 25-28 record, so it is hard to buy into West Noble as any more that what I give them right now.

Record versus OTH Top 10: 0-0

9. BISHOP DWENGER (6-3, 3-0 SAC)

Why #9?

Molly Ream and Emma Lyons are both coming off good weeks and while nobody on this team is averaging double digit scoring, there are six players who average 5 or more points per game and 12 players who average at least a point a game. If that isn’t a laundry list of contributors, I don’t know what is.

Why not higher?

I’m coming down from Dwenger a little bit as they escape last week 1-2. They should have gone 2-1 and the many scares Northrop put in them could have had them at 0-3.

Record versus OTH Top 10: 0-1

10. ANGOLA (5-4, 3-1 NECC)

Why #10?

The Hornets have a worse record than all six teams listed below under consideration, but their tough level of competition has made them stronger and defensively, I think they are in great shape. Is the NECC out of reach after a loss to Central Noble? Maybe. But the conference tournament and Sectional are very much still in their control. Make no mistake, this is still a very good basketball team capable of winning every night remaining on their regular season schedule.

Why not higher?

Angola’s schedule hasn’t done them any favors. They beat teams they should beat. They lose to teams they probably should lose to.

Record versus OTH Top 10: 0-2

OTHERS UNDER CONSIDERATION

Lakeland (7-2, 2-1 NECC), Adams Central (6-1, 2-0 ACAC), Bluffton (5-2, 2-0 ACAC), Columbia City (5-4, 1-0 NE8), Woodlan (7-3, 0-2 ACAC), Westview (7-2, 2-1 NECC)

These opinions represent those of Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH

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