I will keep my introduction short because I have a lot to say this week. Bounce took in five different games across the area and saw a variety of styles, skill and intensity. And it was basketball all week, so who can beat that?
FRIDAY NIGHTS IN THE SAC ARE A LOT OF FUN
Kudos to new South Side athletic director Torrey Curry for treating the school as he big game destination is was on Friday for a Summit Athletic Conference girl/boy double header against visiting Northrop. The new set up of the gym with new bleachers is nice (this was Bounce’s first visit there this year) and the whole night just felt like a big deal.
Northrop girls showed a lot of fight for a team with just one junior and one senior. In a lot of ways, they mirrored the team from three seasons ago that was loaded by sophomores. If coach Rashida Muhammad builds them up as she did the last group, this is a contender in two years.
The lone senior, Treva Datcher, did a great job taking an extra power dribble and being effective inside especially on the press break. She had a game high 17 points.
That press by South Side certainly can invoke chaos. I look forward to what it can do and how long their stamina allows it during the upcoming SAC Holiday Tournament. With a guard from of Jaci Jones, Olivia Smith and Darriyn Hackbarth, I can’t imagine many teams want to be smothered by the Archer defense.
South Side took what was a close first half and turned it into a 33-20 halftime lead by making big plays and wagering their experience against the inexperience of the Bruins. Alaya Chapman was smooth moving coast to coast throughout the game and Jones controlled the pass of the game admirably, as you’d expect a third year varsity player to do. South will be fun as they attempt to defend their tournament title in two weeks.
Chapman finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds as one of five….yes five…Archer players in double figures. How do you stop five scorers? Hackbarth led the team with 16 points, followed by Jas Combs’ 13 off the bench, 12 from Smith and 10 each from Chapman and Jones.
The boys game made the most of the environment. The gym was loud, it was wild and both schools really made an impression with their fan bases. Too often we hear this narrative that people in Fort Wayne don’t care about high school basketball “as much as they used to.” If caring is measured by tight gyms, then its fair to say this city cared a lot on Friday night for the second straight week as it was the same last Friday for Bounce at Snider.
If you don’t believe environment goes a long way, look no further than Northrop’s 48-43 win on the boys side to push the Bruins to 6-0 and had South Side their first loss of the season. A lot of people left there thinking they saw a heck of a basketball game because of the intensity, the emotion and the volume in that gym. And that is fine. I’d rather be at a fun basketball game than a boring one, even if the basketball being played isn’t the best.
46 total turnovers (25 for South Side, 21 for Northrop) and Northrop’s rough 15 of 36 shooting from the free throw line were hard to overlook. Those closing minutes really was more of each team trying to give the game away it was so riddled with missed free throws and turnovers. But, the good thing is that both teams have now played in that environment, so the rushing and the nerves should be gone when they rematch in the SAC Holiday Tournament, just around the corner.
What I did see was three players I already knew were capable of making impacts, but I left impressed at the impacts they made. JT Langtson Jr. was the best overall athlete on the floor on Friday night. He made himself part of every play he could, hustled and timed his blocks (4), steals (4), rebounds (13) and putback dunks as perfectly as he could. The Archers are going to thrive if Langston can keep putting that kind of output into their games.
For Northrop, Qualen Pettus was a difference maker in the second half, eventually scoring a game high 19 points and being the only Bruin really capable of putting the ball away at the free throw line with 7-of-11 shooting and clinching the win with a pair of free throws with five seconds left. Isaac Anderson played well setting the pace and tone for the Bruins to sustain Archer runs after Northrop took the lead for good in the second quarter. Anderson’s 12 points doesn’t do justice to what he meant for the game.
UNSELFISH AND EVEN: A 4-0 START FOR SNIDER
Like the South Side girls, the Snider boys had five players in double figures scoring on Friday. Michael Eley and Jon Barnes Jr. each scored 15 points, freshmen Karson Jenkins and Jaylen Lattimore scored 13 each and Dillon Duff had 10 points in the 88-43 win over North Side to improve to 2-0 in the SAC.
When the Panthers reconvened on Saturday to host a fiesty and physical Merrillville team, they did more of the same. Coach Jeremy Rauch went 12 players deep on his bench for the second straight night as they won 65-56. Eight of those guys scored and while Eley (18 points) and Duff (16 points), it is those little poignant baskets throughout that are big. Eight points, in a nine point win, came from three pointers from Isaac Farnsworth and Airyan Thomas and an important decision in the second quarter by Jayshawn Underwood to take the ball to the basket when all other option for the point guard had exhausted themselves.
By the way, Underwood also had the best stat line a true point guard could have on Saturday: 5 assists, 5 steals and just one turnover.
ACAC GIRLS RACE GETS MESSY AT #2
While Jay County remains the lone conference unbeaten, a pair of Saturday games helped make the space behind the Patriots jammed up. Bluffton (3-1 ACAC) eliminated Adams Central from regular season title contention despite the Flying Jets’ hot start to the season. And Woodlan’s win over Heritage means both of those teams sit at two conference losses and — probably — out of title contention too.
Bluffton may be the only team who can steal the ACAC away from Jay County now.
Woodlan’s win was impactful for them in the larger picture. The Warriors have just two seniors and only one who really sees time. So to get a big conference win against a rival is a great confidence boost for a young, still experienced team. Best of all, it was a freshman who made two of the biggest shots of the game. Woodlan led most of Saturday’s game, but only twice did they take the lead from a 10-win Heritage team: once at 5-4 three and a half minutes into the game and once with 45 seconds left in the game. Both times, it was done on the hands of Dakotah Krohn burying a three pointer.
Woodlan themselves are now a 10 win team again as they have been in four of coach Gary Cobb‘s six years at the helm. It has been a long time, if ever, since the program won 10 of their first 13. These are good signs for Woodlan.
As for the ACAC, the logjam in the girls standings should be fun January 8 when their conference tournament kicks off.
AREA GIRLS BASKETBALL AT ITS BEST
Girls high school basketball, at its top level, can be so much fun. This was on full display Tuesday when then 9-0 Norwell visited then 9-0 Homestead. Now Bounce already talked about that game some (BOUNCE: Tuesday showdown showcased strengths of Homestead and Norwell) but that was pointed mostly at a Homestead team I’ve had little but good things to talk about all year.
On Tuesday, both Homestead and Norwell made errors as any team will, even the top level. But as much as Homestead will continue to impress, Bounce certainly left Tuesday awed by the level of play that the Knights put out. Coach Eric Thornton clearly scouted Homestead very well and his team’s dribble drive penetration was nearly impossible to stop even for the highly touted Homestead guards.
Ultimately, sized played its role and Homestead freshman Ayanna Patterson had a career night with 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. The Spartans countered Norwell’s pointed attack and even though Norwell was able to get to the line a bunch, Homestead was able to make the game go whatever speed they wanted.
“I think the key to a good team and one of the things we are really trying to emphasize is that we can play a variety of styles of basketball,” Spartan coach Rod Parker said after the game. “We can get out and run, I think, with a lot of teams. But we also need to be able to locked down and win half court games where one possession is really important.”
And as noted above, I saw some quality girls basketball on Friday too with South Side and Northrop, two teams that are really well coached. I for one love the evolution the girls side has shown in the last 5 or so years in the area and Tuesday was just the perfect showcase.
- Concordia’s Carissa Garcia is now her program’s all-time leading scorer after her output Friday night in a win over Bishop Dwenger. That is always a feat for any player at any school, but Garcia has been something special for the Cadets as she has provided consistency. What has been especially great is that she has only been the lone primary scorer for a season and a half now. As a sophomore, it was her and Sylare Starks that shared the load and when Garcia was a freshman, Shania Kelly was the critical piece to the offense. Garcia has been a constant for Concordia, filled her role since her freshman year and never provided less than that role, but often providing much more. Garcia now sits at 1,335 points after passing Courtney Smith’s record.
- A pair of girls basketball coaches in the area hit milestones this week. Homestead’s Rod Parker won his 300th game, all at Homestead, on Friday night when the Spartans beat Bishop Luers. The win made him 300-115 over 18 seasons heading into Saturday’s game with Notre Dame Academy (OH). Also, Woodlan’s Gary Cobb won his 400th game as a coach. Former area boys coach Al Rhoades, who coached at Warsaw and Northrop, won his 600th career game during the week too, now as the coach at Penn, beating South Bend Washington.
- With Caleb Furst injured and Frank Davidson in foul trouble, Blackhawk Christian needed an offensive spark in the first half Friday against Canterbury. Enter a pair of sparks – sophomore Marcus Davidson and senior Abe Hicks. The two were able to keep the Cavaliers at arm’s length with some big threes entering the half of an 83-71 victory. Davidson and Hicks combined to score 26 points, showcasing the scoring depth that the Braves can put on the floor. It is not just Furst. It is not just Frank Davidson. It is not just Zane Burke. This Blackhawk team can beat you in a variety of different ways, even when two of its studs are on the bench. That’s the troubling aspect of Blackhawk’s game for 1A teams.
- Central Noble girls get a lot of love, but their boys seem to be able to score pretty well too. On Tuesday, their 107 points in a win at Hamilton was their most points since the 1974-1975 season when they scored 110 against Howe Military. They followed it up on Friday by scoring 98 points against West Noble with 35 from Connor Essegian and 28 from Ridley Zolman.
- Speaking of those Cougar girls, how about beating an undefeated West Noble, 41-34, Friday while only getting three points from Sydney Freeman? She scored her three points and attempted only two three pointers while playing under the weather. Meleah Leatherman, Bridgette Gray and company stepped up big with their leader down.
- Want to see who is up for our Performance of the Week? A lot of multi game performers, but here at Outside the Huddle, we honor the top single game performance of the week. You have your chance to vote now:
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