Lets hop own down to Grant County, shall we? Bounce has made the trip for the annual Marion Classic, featuring four games but three of which feature area teams.
Check back throughout the afternoon for updates, thoughts and general banter from yours truly. And also check me out on Twitter be following Bounce_OTH
GAME ONE: NORTH SIDE 60, LIBERTY CHRISTIAN 50
North Side stormed out to a 36-17 lead in the first half with Ryan Collins hitting three triples and Mike Scott being dominant inside against an undersized Liberty Christian team.
It was a great half for North Side to have now. They needed that half and this game. Mike Scott looks calm and comfortable inside, something you won’t get every night. But that is what made this game important, to work out kinks and to find a confidence you won’t in a nightly SAC grind. Scott scored 10 points in the first quarter, 12 total in the half with five first half rebounds. As the lone returning varsity player, he is going to have to have days like this in the future against better teams as well.
Liberty Christian’s effort in the third was somewhat inspired as they tested North Side in the mid range and with their physicality. Lion leading scorer Christian Nunn, just a sophomore really going to work and earning every inch. The Lions, off a Nunge and-one attempt, opened the third quarter on a 16-6 run.
The Legends’ guards ability to handle the Liberty Christian press was going to be so critical and they failed constantly in the third quarter, trying to throw a lot of long balls picked off by a much more settled Liberty Christian. The Lions got within two at 42-40 in the third quarter. It was a 23-8 quarter in favor of the Lions, who trailed by four on a Demetrius Clark tip in at the buzzer for North Side.
In the fourth quarter, North Side was intelligent in getting the ball back down low to Scott. The Legends relied way too much on the deep jumpers in the third, always seeming rushed even after they would break the Liberty Christian press. With 5:40 left i the game, Liberty Christian tied it at 46, but North took the lead back quickly when Scott grabbed a Ryan Collins miss and shoveled it to Tray Shoals for the assist. And then Collins hit his fourth three on the next possession to extend the North Side lead to 51-46.
North Side closed out the game with a 60-50 win and it was a good test for them. They got a win. They got some momentum. They had to face some adversity. That is all you could ask of the Marion Classic experience for this team.
Scott finished with 18 points to lead North Side, Rodney Woods added 13 and Ryan Collins scored 12.
GAME TWO: BISHOP DWENGER 61, RICHMOND 44
Matt Kostoff and the Saints were the first SAC team to face the new look Shabaz Khaliq, who still wears read, but now of the Red Devil variety. The Saints looked comfortable on the glass, showing their size advantage. Seven of their first 14 points were second chance points. The Saints led 10-0 and then 17-3 after one with the only Red Devils score coming on a Lucas Kroft three pointer.
Jared Lee had four rebounds in just the first quarter, but Richmond opened the third quarter on a 6-0 run trying to battle back into the game before the halftime break. A pair of Andrew Kroft free throws with 5:44 to play pulled Richmond back within eight points but Lee took to the basket the next possession, wrapping his shot around the arms of the Richmond defender to keep momentum in Bishop Dwenger’s hands.
Hayden Smithey was hot in the first half as he has been all season for the Saints, who were already off to their best start to a season since 2013. Smithey scored 14 points in the first half, hitting a trio of triples.
Lee continued to be an imposing force for the Saints in the third quarter. As the wise Tim Atkinson of Summit City Sports told me on Friday, Lee “rebounds like a football player.” And what can you do with that?
Brenden Lytle also imposed his will in the third, taking his turn in the quarter with seven points on his own in the third. The sophomore guard was also able to get into the passing lanes consistently and keep his team running on all cylinders.
Lucas Kroft found his game in the fourth quarter after struggling to hit much early on. Despite having Richmond’s only three points on the first quarter, Kroft wasn’t able to get going until deep into the fourth quarter. When he did, his jumper looked phenomenal and his ability to get to the basket through contact was at the level of what he had been doing all season. He scored 10 of his co-game high 16 points in the fourth quarter. Brother Andrew also had 16 points in the game.
Matt Kochanski led Bishop Dwenger with 16 points, followed by 14 from Smithey and 12 from Lytle.
GAME THREE: BROWNSBURG 64, SNIDER 50
A frantic pace started the first quarter for Snider’s third game in four days. And that schedule is tough, trust me on that. Throw in finals week in Fort Wayne Community Schools and playing at 6 p.m. on a Friday an hour away from home wasn’t ideal for the Panthers.
What is ideal is getting the ball in Karson Jenkins’ hands. He hit a big three with just over a minute to play in the first half that pulled Snider within one point, 10-9, of the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association’s 15th ranked team. It was an important spark for the Panthers as neither team was finding much sticking room in the first. Brownsburg ended the quarter though with a couple more baskets and led 14-9.
Brownsburg’s Cameron Alford was able to get into the pair at ease during the second quarter, exploiting any match up that the Panthers could throw at him. Alford was (not arguably) the best player on the court during the first half. Defensively, Brownsburg was able to take Snider out of the their comfort zone, twice forcing 5-second calls on inbounds play attempts. In the first half of the second quarter, only Isaac Farnsworth was able to make any dent offensively for the Panthers as the Bulldogs were able to keep a hand in the faces of Dillon Duff and Michael Eley throughout the first half.
As Reis Thomas heated up in the second quarter with three three pointers, the Bulldogs took a 41-21 lead into the half.
The third quarter was markedly better for the Panthers, who used their passing to find quality shots and chip away at the Brownsburg lead. First it was Duff finding on a pair of drive and dish opportunities, then Jayshawn Underwood finding Duff for a three and Preston Barker hitting Jon Barnes Jr. in the right corner for a triple. The Panthers were able to outscore Brownsburg by seven in the quarter to cut the lead to 51-38.
One of the most promising plays of the third quarter came when freshman Jaylen Lattimore showed how much strength he can have with a rebound and putback in the final minute (see photographic proof above). Lattimore had previously ripped the ball right out of the hands of Alford. His growth immediately this season has been nice and Snider needs more aggressive of a nature moving forward.
By the time the game reached the midway point of the fourth quarter, it was all but academic as the Bulldogs had the game wrapped up. Three games in four days isn’t easy folks.
There were a handful of positives and a lot of things that showed how Snider needs work. Makes us try to remember that they are young and Brownsburg plays a more challenging schedule because of their location in the state. And steel has sharpened steel in the case of Brownsburg. That is where Snider wants to get. Did Brownsburg sharpen the Panthers? Guess we will find out next week.