It was the week of conference with both ACAC and NECC teams playing heavy schedules and Bounce was lucky enough to take in some games from each of those tournaments. Even better, I may hop back on out to the ACAC Tournament as the finals have been moved to Monday at South Adams High School, starting at 6 p.m. due to Saturday’s snow.
A lot of really good teams from Saturday got the move, some to Monday and others to other dates. So check back in with your local schools to see when games are. Outside of the ACAC Tournament finals, the NE8 girls regular season will be on the line Monday as Norwell at Bellmont girls was also moved.
GAME OF THE YEAR?
A lot of things really go into making a great game and a great moment; it is not always just the basketball on the court. Friday night at Heritage was one of those nights and games.
The crowd was deep, they were loud, the pace was frantic but controlled more often than not, the game was well officiated and coached. All of the pieces were there and the players from Woodlan and Heritage certainly did their part to add to any hype this amphibian is preaching.
Truly a game of runs, both teams took their turns putting on scoring rushes and exchanging blows like heavyweight fighters. Early on, it looked like a game that was going to belong to Cameron Mitchell, who was active all over the court. Mitchell has been fun to watch when Bounce has had the luxury and Friday was no different. He really is a true wing player who, because of his height, has to play in the post some and adapts well.
As they have done all year, Heritage had a lot of diversity with Alec Burton, Walter Knapke and others make this a game of effort for the Patriots. Woodlan matched them on the strength of Aiden Bayman, but also the pace of Ben and Joe Reidy, Trevor Wiedenhoeft and Konner Norman. The list goes on and on honestly as so many different players contributed to the box score and beyond for each team.
Watching each team rally filled Heritage’s gym with enthusiasm. Every single possession mattered. How many basketball games do you see that you can say that about? Both teams played extremely hard and, whether they would admit it or not, had to be in awe of how resilient their own teams and opponents were at times in this game.
Woodlan junior Ben Reidy commented to me that it was the “most exciting basketball game I’ve played in.” Bounce can see why. It was one of the most exciting I have seen in a while. Credit to the teams, coaches, fans, Heritage student section and anyone that was part of Friday night. It takes a village to make something so exciting. Old school county basketball at its best. Makes sense; the ACAC Tournament, in its 96th year, is as old school as it gets.
The lead at the end of every single quarter was just one point, as was the 57-56 final.
Heritage will get their chance to play for an ACAC Tournament title on Monday night against Adams Central. But if you saw Friday night’s game, circle Friday on your calendar because the two teams are going to do it again in Monroeville. I can’t imagine it is as much fun, but Bounce sure hopes it is close.
TRENT LOOMIS IS NEXT
Homestead coach Chris Johnson commented after Friday’s victory over Snider that while many consider Homestead a two-man team of Zak Krueger and Luke Goode, he has other contributors.
On Friday, that role went significantly to Trent Loomis. The senior hit a big three early on, part of Homestead’s quick 9-0 start that set the tone for the game. Snider was never able to recover from that deficit. Snider lost track of where Loomis was as he moved well without the ball, leading to several wide open layups. He finished with a career high 18 points.
Loomis is the latest example of an unsung hero stepping up for the Spartans. Will Smith, Alex Grinsfelder and Zac Bradtmiller have all had their moments for Homestead, which continues to showcase it is more than just a two-headed monster.
DON’T FORGET WHERE DYER BALL COMES FROM
Things didn’t go the way that Angola wanted as they shot the ball poorly and scored just 17 points in the NECC Tournament semi finals Friday against Prairie Heights. But previously in the week, the Hornets were playing very good basketball with wins Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Tuesday, it was a team effort that made the win over Fairfield so fun. The arena was loud, the teams were into it and it was a great example of quality basketball and environment outside of the city of Fort Wayne. While the Hornets had their fair share of help Tuesday when Bounce was in attendance watching, it was Dyer Ball that drew my attention.
Ball is a real problem inside for the NECC and as a junior, still has time to get bigger and stronger, two things he has done since last season even. While he ruled the interior often against Fairfield, ending with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the 48-45 win, it was his block of one of Fairfield’s two final attempts to tie the game that was magical to watch. But we should really know better by now. After all, Ball comes from a family that knows a thing or two about sports that rely on blocks. The son of Olympian Lloy Ball, Dyer certainly knows how to use his length and athletic prowess to his team’s favor.
Angola looked really good all around on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they shot 65 percent from the field in the first half as they ran away from Churubusco in their second NECC Tournament game. Friday wasn’t the chosen end result, but the Hornets showed signs of life behind the power of Ball.
HAIL TO THE WINNERS OF THE NECC
While the ACAC Tournament finals got knocked to Monday because of the snowfall. That terrible, terrible snow fall. But Saturday did have a lot of basketball at Lakeland High School. In the early game, Angola ended their 10 game winning streak with a loss to Central Noble, who has now won 29 in a row dating back to last season. 43-32 was the final as the Cougars just keep rolling as the best team in Class 2A
Both teams played some great defense throughout the entire game, but Meleah Leatherman came to play and put the Cougars on her back, especially in the second half when Central Noble was able to build their lead. Leatherman is special when she gets the ball inside. Why? Because she puts the ball in the basket with great regularity and when teams do collapse on her, she is a consistent bucket from the free throw line as well. The second half even saw her step out and drill a three pointer. Once the Cougars were able to extend their lead to double digits, Angola didn’t have the ability on Saturday to climb back as they struggled shooting.
It was Central Noble’s third NECC title in four years. Leatherman finished with 21 points and 18 rebounds in the win.
Credit to Prairie Heights for how they played against Westview on Saturday night in the NECC Tournament finals. The Panthers were scrappy, rebounded well and created space in transition to get and hit open shots. They trailed just 20-16 at the half and held Charlie Yoder of Westview to just one first half point, which came on a free throw with one second left in the second quarter. Garrett Culler had a game high eight points in the first half for the Panthers.
But Westview did lead at halftime as the next man (men?) stepped up with Drew Litwiller, Nick Rensberger and Josh Hostetler all led the team in scoring at halftime. Yoder heated up in the third quarter and Westview pushed their lead to 32-20 at the end of the third quarter. He ended with 17 points after his exciting second half, just doing what Charlie Yoder does, and Westview got the 43-30 victory.
It was Westview’s seventh NECC Tournament title in the last 11 years. It was also their 11th straight road game as they haven’t played at home since December 8’s win over Central Noble. They now get to play four straight in front of their always excitable home crowd.
- Will Geiger scored 19 points on Tuesday as the Norwell Knights fell in a tough game against Wayne, 50-45. But importantly out of the game came Geiger surpassing 1,000 points for his career at Norwell. He joins fellow juniors Mitchell Wilson of Columbia City and Charlie Yoder as a third player to reach the milestone, before their senior season, in the two weeks. Geiger was honored on Friday night for his accomplishment, joined by other members of the school’s 1,000 point club.
- Courtesy of Justin Mangold, the voice of Jay County basketball, Tuesday’s ACAC Tourney game for Jay County was the 1,000th varsity game in school history. The Patriots were 576-424 in the 43.5 years of play after that contest was over.
- Wouldn’t you know, in a year full of making waves, Chris Johnson hit a milestone 400th career coaching win on Tuesday in a 51-44 win over Blackhawk Christian. One of Johnson’s biggest wins of the season came with all the pomp and circumstance of the moment. Just kidding, not it didn’t. CJ probably didn’t even flinch. Probably just a smile and a shrug and on to the next one. Johnson currently sits at 401-174 after another game later in the week.
- As always, don’t forget to check out this week’s Performance of the Week polls. Remember, these polls are for the best single game performance, not for a full week’s body of work (important to keep in mind with the tournaments this week).
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