Things started to pick back up in area basketball this week, even though the New Year’s holiday had us with yet another short week.
Still, we got some clarity in conference title races with the ACAC getting wrapped up on the girls side and other teams spacing out their leads in both boys and girls conference battles.
This week’s column is a little bit shorter, but don’t forget to check back in Monday and Tuesday as we get back to normal with my game picks and the Outside the Huddle Power Polls. Plus, we will preview the ACAC and NECC tournaments that will be played across northeast Indiana next week.
LUKE GOODE HAS HELP
Sophomore Luke Goode was the hero of the SAC Holiday Tournament title game against Snider when he dropped in 31 points, but that isn’t going to be the Goode we are going to see each night.
That was the case Friday in a victory over South Side that saw Goode shoot 2-of-10 from three-point range. He did finish with 19 points, but he did a lot of his damage at close in and from the three-point line.
Thankfully for the Spartans, guys like Will Smith, Zac Bradtmiller and Trent Loomis were hitting, combined for four threes in the game. They are what makes Homestead truly dangerous, those unassuming role players who come up big when the star is having an off night.
CHARLIE YODER IS VERY GOOD, DON’T LET THAT GET LOST
I am often asked who my leader is for the boys basketball Player of the Year. The answer is simple: it is way to early to make such a bold decision. But if I am making a true “mid-season” assessment, there is no issue in saying that it is tough to impress me more than Charlie Yoder has both on film and in person this season.
The Warriors dropped their fourth straight game on Thursday when I watched them visit East Noble and admittedly, the better team that night won that night. But I could write a separate column about East Noble and will mention them a lot I am sure. But this takeaway from the week is about Yoder. The junior is as smooth as any player on the court at any given time. People could make their silly arguments that playing in the NECC makes his numbers look better and some probably would. But that is…silly.
As East Noble coach Ryan Eakins said after Thursday’s game, Yoder moves so freely and aggressively without the ball that teams have to do everything they can just to prevent him from getting the ball. It drew Eakins’ best defender Hayden Jones, one of the best defenders in Northeast Indiana, to Yoder on Thursday. And it drew double teams and triple teams too. The loss before that, to Valparaiso in the Hall of Fame Classic, Yoder dropped 37 points in his biggest marquee game to date. He was sometimes guarded by Purdue recruit and Indiana All-Star candidate Brandon Newman.
When he scored his 24 points against East Noble, he did it in pretty much every way he wanted to. Yoder has a unique ability to take over takes so smoothly and without flare that you may forget he is taking the game over.
On Friday, Westview ended their losing streak with a big win over conference foe Hamilton. Yoder scored 22 points and became just the 10th player in the history of the program to hit the 1,000 point mark. He still has another year and a half of work to do. And at the rate he is doing it, statewide polls would be smart to keep the Warriors at the top of Class 2A.
BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN IS BACK…WITHOUT EVER LEAVING
It seems like with the hype of conference tournaments and the injuries of Caleb Furst and Michael Pulver, that somehow Blackhawk Christian fell off the radar a little bit again. Well consider them back on the radar and they are coming in hot.
On Saturday, they welcomed in SAC co-leader Concordia and beat them by 36 points to improve 2-0 against their slate of 9 of the 10 teams in the city’s conference.
And for as much talk as the Homestead girls get about being unbeatable because they put 3 to 4 girls in double figures scoring every night…Blackhawk Christian faced the SAC co-leaders and put six guys in double figures. Six. One more than five. 19 for Frankie Davidson, 17 from Marcus Davidson, 15 from Zane Burke, 12 from Abe Hicks and 10 each from Caleb Furst and Michael Pulver. They only had seven players score. And six of them, if you didn’t catch it earlier, scored in double figures.
Fresh off that and another title in the North Daviees Tournament, the Braves are playing fantastic basketball and will be hard to stop. Next week, they add two more SAC teams including a fun one Tuesday when Furst gets to square off against good buddy Luke Goode and the SAC Tournament champion Homestead Spartans. People are talking about a state title run in Class 1A and while we’d all like to see that, lets just enjoy what we have now and that is a basketball team that is plain and simply dominant.
- Teams are doing a more than admirable job limiting Carissa Garcia’s scoring output, but the Cadets are still finding ways to win most nights. Part of that is how much of the slack Nautica Rogers has picked up scoring, like her 22 points on Wednesday in a good win over Jay County. The other part is Garcia’s ability to do a little bit of everything else to still be constructive when she is not scoring.
- When teams do beat Concordia, like Bishop Luers did, 36-34, on Friday, it is quite impressive. The Knights gave the Cadets just their fourth loss of the season and did it without Lydia Reimbold. Katelynn Gray has found ways to be incredibly valuable without scoring and Janaiya Bright is playing some of her best basketball; she scored 12 on Friday.
- The first regular season conference title in the area is sewn up with Jay County’s girls beating Bluffton Friday ahead of a possible rematch in this week’s ACAC Tournament (preview coming Monday to Outside the Huddle). Hanna Dillon added her name to the deepish scoring options of the Patriots with their conference title.
- Does anyone have a more ice in the veins approach in the NE8 than Hank Pulver? The Huntington North sharpshooter has hit big shots before but his two free throws against Henry Clay from Lexington, Kentucky on Saturday only added to his lore. Yes, the Vikings lost that game, but people will always remember that Pulver shouldn’t have the ball at the buzzer if you are the opposing team.
- Columbia City’s Mitchell Wilson also hit 1,000 career points on Friday night. The Eagle junior scored 24 total points, efficient in every quarter in a 56-54 loss against a Bellmont team that has rolled through parts of the season. While the Eagles improve every year, Wilson sometimes gets lost in the shuffle too in regard of area players, but he is a pace setter that is a tough guard every night.
- While in the mood to mark accomplishments hits on Friday night, Fairfield boys basketball coach Troy Beachy won his 100th career game by beating Eastside. All 100 of those wins have come at Fairfield.
- Fort Wayne native and Richmond senior Lucas Kroft also hit 1,000 career points last night as the Red Devils fell to New Castle and Kroft’s future Ball State teammate Luke Bumbalough.
- Don’t forget to vote in the Performance of the Week polls that run through Tuesday, January 8 at noon. So many more noteworthy performances there that aren’t listed here:
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