It is almost Christmas and that means some time off (for some teams, certainly not for me) and a world of tournaments, shootouts and other fun happenings around the basketball scene.
And what has been more fun, perhaps unpredictable than a weekend that saw four the remaining five unbeaten teams get beat? On Friday, it was the Snider boys falling to Brownsburg and the Homestead girls falling to North Central. On Saturday, Blackhawk Christian tasted their first defeat at the hands of Indianapolis Manual and Westview boys fell to Warsaw. What a crazy two days. That is the top 4A girls team, 2A boys and 1A boys teams all losing in 24 hours!
As for Bounce and Outside the Huddle, you will see some features take this week off and others that will take their place. For example, you will see no power polls or Bounce picks this week. But, tomorrow (that is right, Christmas Eve) Outside the Huddle will break down the SAC Holiday Tournaments with capsules of all 20 boys and girls teams. Then, there will be complete day by day coverage of the tournament here as well too.
But you’ll see all of that ahead. For now, let’s look back on what Bounce learned over the past week.
WOODLAN COUNTERS BEHNFELDT
At the continuous urging of Bounce’s dear Twitter friend Ben Reidy, I made a Thursday night trip out to Woodburn to see A) What Woodlan really looks like compared to their record and B) Is Fremont’s Tanner Behnfeldt an elite scorer?
I don’t know that I answered number two, but Woodlan’s constant pressure on the Eagles made it difficult for Behnfeldt to really look comfortable, forcing Fremont to rely on Ethan Marten, who didn’t look bad either.
But this is about Woodlan and my guy Reidy. And his brother Joe. Because Joe, just your casual long, thin 6-foot-5 freshman, is going to be a force by the time he graduates if his game keeps growing. Won’t hurt if he keeps growing too. Joe Reidy did pretty much anything he pleased throughout the game and his touch inside was super soft around the rim. A big guy who can lay it softly is pretty difficult to defend no matter what area conference you are in.
Bounce would venture to say that I have seen the top four ACAC teams now with Jay County, Heritage, Adams Central and then Woodlan and it really has me interested in the ACAC Tournament. If was giving my honest opinion, it would be that those other schools have an edge over Woodlan this year, but anything can happen in the ACAC Tournament, where Woodlan has always had success.
Is this team a year away from full potential? Probably. Does that make lone senior Jack Stuckey dislike me? Well rumor is it that frog legs are now on the Stuckey holiday feast menu as of…about right now.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love what I saw, from Stuckey and others. Woodlan was fun to watch. Their win over Fremont was a good, mostly fundamental showcase and a welcome break from the zoom-zoom pace that the SAC usually emblazons in my head. The Warriors have a scrappy core of guards in the elder Reidy, Aiden Bayman, Trevor Wiedenhoeft and Mitch Mendendall. As difficult of a race as it has to be daily in Woodburn, its hard to say that any of them showed more scrap than Konner Norman, who sets the pace on both side of the ball. Defensively, I would be afraid that Norman would take out my knees getting after any ball that even seems loose. And all four of those tough guards are just juniors.
And I would be remiss to not talk about Ben. I like the kid’s winning mentality. I liked it on the football field, but that is old Blitz’s territory. The elder Reidy is a gritty guy who wants to win, wants to perform and showed some nice court vision to help the Warriors get good looks on Thursday. Then there was that rough fall he took on a layup attempt. Don’t worry Ben, I’ve destroyed all photographic evidence. We can say it was a missed call and you got fouled.
NEW LOOK NORTH SIDE
The Gary Andrews led Legends have struggled out of the gate, that is no surprise or news to anyone. Friday’s game in Marion was an important step in trying to turn the corner with a young, inexperienced roster.
They made some strides while also clearly showing some weakness. The Legends always should have beaten Liberty Christian. The Lions don’t have much these days and are light years away from the Class 1A state power they were just a few years ago. And for three quarters, that was no problem. After all, Gary Andrews is a good coach and he has some good pieces that just don’t know how to put it all together yet.
In the third quarter, good on Lion leading scorer Christian Nunn, a sophomore who could be the guy to get the program back in motion. He couldn’t be stopped in that frame.
“We really didn’t pressure like we pressured all year,” Andrews said. “We’ve played some really good teams and I know we played better defense against some of those teams.”
The pieces I like for North Side were clear. Drevion Braden isn’t going to be the point guard of their future, he is one of a handful of kids who will be one and done on the varsity level as seniors. But he is clearly a pace setter. I’d really like to see him get more than a year, but that isn’t in the cards so lets see what he can do the rest of the way. North won’t contend for any titles this year, but Braden could keep the Legends in some games down the stretch.
“I was glad our kids were able to handle some adversity,” Andrews said of the post third quarter spurt. “If we can handle some adversity, our young kids are going to get better and better.”
Ryan Collins and Rodney Woods are freshmen who played well. Kids with that little experience need games like Friday, against a lesser opponent, to really get their feet wet. Woods played aggressive and Collins looked poised shooting the ball. They won’t get that every night, but Friday fed their forced maturity.
And then there was Mike Scott, the lone guy who’s name adorned last season’s North Side roster. Scott has played with and against better players than anyone else on this roster. He has always looked the part, but hasn’t been able to kick things up a notch. He used his size to his advantage Friday.
“He’s huge for us. He got us going early,” Andrews said of Scott. “We went away from him a little bit and he starts wanting to drift toward the outside. We need to get him inside and dominate. He missed a couple of weeks and that really hurt us. Now that he’s back, I think that’s really gonna help us.”
ADAMS CENTRAL WILL WIN (AND THEY HAVE GOOD HAIR)
You could watch one half of Adams Central basketball on Tuesday night and know that they will be just fine, if not the favorite in the ACAC and the ACAC Tournament. Bounce has now seen four ACAC teams in person, the four projected at the top of the conference. It is hard to say anyone is better than Adams Central.
Kevin Brown is the type of kid that gives opponents nightmares and that was evident on Tuesday as Blackhawk Christian afforded him loads of respect. When you have a team like the Braves, who score at will and can do almost anything they want, they don’t have to respect the other team’s best player. They do and they did respect Brown. Needless to say, arguably the area’s best shot found his range consistently anyway to the tune of 24 points. If only Bounce could sponsor a three point tournament, I may put Brown up against anyone.
I was really impressed with the Flying Jets’ ability to not look too frazzled even when their play wasn’t on point against Blackhawk Christian’s press. Colton Yergler and Lucas Van De Weg controlled the ball confidently and Ben Voirol and Dylan Miller did their jobs to the best of their ability inside against a just really good Braves squad. And come the heart of the ACAC, who really is going to be able to match up with Miller inch for inch? There is still work to do in Monroe, but Adams Central is well on their way.
And I would be remiss if I did not mention the fantastic array of hairstyles they have in Monroe. Is this a joke? No. Bounce is as bald as Mr. Clean so I appreciate the finer looks of those more fortunate. From the Pat Riley-esque slick back of coach Aaron McClure to the area’s best coif in Van De Weg (thats right, I am calling that contest, its over, he wins), the Flying Jets sure know how to look good while playing good.
- Both of Bounce’s #1 area teams lost on Friday? Shhhhhh. Traveling trophies stay put though as Snider’s loss to Brownsburg and Homestead’s loss to North Central aren’t in the area. What does that mean for #1 rankings at Outside the Huddle? I would say not much now, lets see how the next week plays out as we take a break this week from ranking teams.
- Did anyone forget that Bellmont has two players capable of scoring 30-plus points in game? Does anyone else have that? Meghan Busick’s 35 point game Monday was huge for Bellmont in further establishing themselves. Just imagine if Busick and Grace Hunter both scored that much on the same night.
- Just when Bounce thought Heritage was going to be hard to beat, here comes Churubusco. Literally, as I was salivating over a Heritage/Adams Central matchup from Monroe on Tuesday, I saw that the Eagles stopped Heritage’s unbeaten season. I was shocked. Then I wasn’t. I’ve been high on Busco’s abilities and even after a couple of ugly losses, it shows that Brayton Bonar, Jackson Paul and company are ready to rise to the occasion. From Bonar’s 18 points against Heritage to Paul’s flirtation with the idea of a triple double (10-5-5), Busco isn’t done making noise yet.
- After 30 straight losses, the Hamilton girls basketball team won a game on Wednesday, 55-12 over Howe Military. At the end of the day, these players are just playing high school basketball so you never want to see a drought that spans more than one full season. Congrats to Hamilton on their win with Tori Creager scoring 33 point in the win.
- Shelby Caldwell has been the driving force for Jay County the last season and a half, but on Thursday night, she made sure that Patriots for years to come will remember her. Caldwell scored 41 points in a win over a downtrodden Blackford. But 41 points is 41 points and I don’t care who it is against. Caldwell’s school record is the highest area scoring game of the year. It also puts her just 200 points away from the school’s all-time scoring mark. Caldwell scored 18 points in the opening quarter, where she connected on four of her seven three pointers.
- Congrats to Columbia City coach Amy Shearer for her 100th career win Thursday night against Churubusco. Lots of coaches reaching milestone win marks this season.
- Speaking of, Central Noble’s John Bodey picked up his 100th career win Saturday against Bremen.
- Don’t forget to vote for the Performance of the Week in both boys and girls from this past week. Because of the holiday, voting is extended a little bit. Voting will be open through the start of SAC Tournament games at 9 a.m. Wednesday, December 26.
- FAN VOTE: Boys hoops Performance of the Week (Dec. 17-22), sponsored by Ellen Vance of Ruoff Home Mortgage
- FAN VOTE: Girls hoops Performance of the Week (Dec. 17-22), sponsored by Rico’s Barbershop
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