The girls side is starting to slow down with games. In just six days, the IHSAA will hold the draw for the girls’ postseason.
The boys side is heating up and now that we have all of the tournaments out the way, we can see some clarity sooner than later on who will take the edge in conference races.
For the sake of not repeating myself, I will not be talking about some of the big games tonight or others that were rescheduled from Saturday’s snow day. Instead, I will stick by my previous picks like Jay County girls and Heritage boys winning the ACAC Tournament and Norwell girls edging out rival Bellmont.
As usual, what you won’t find here is the Outside of the Huddle Game of the Weekend. Check back on Friday for our full preview of South Side boys visiting Carroll on Friday night in SAC play, including my prediction for that game.
Last Week: 14-5 (three games to still be played Monday)
Blackhawk Christian at Wayne, Tuesday
Homestead may have laid down a blueprint for how to beat Blackhawk Christian, but that doesn’t mean other teams can follow it. The Braves are tough on any given night, but Wayne is going to a team that is going to be physical with them. Good single player matchups all night. Darius Alexander/Caleb Furst, Craig Young/Frankie Davidson and Cameron Starks/Michael Pulver are all on the agenda and that sounds like a good time for me. A big question is what Wayne will do with Caleb Furst when his gas take outlasts Darius Alexander’s.
Bounce picks Blackhawk Christian
Homestead at Columbia City, Tuesday
I will say two things. 1) This could be a really good showcase game for Mitchell Wilson to show what he is capable of no matter what level of team he is playing. 2) I’m not picking against a Chris Johnson-led Homestead team anytime soon again.
Bounce picks Homestead
East Noble at Central Noble, Wednesday
Central Noble plays some really good basketball when they are on their game. With three legit scorers on Ridley Zolman, Connor Essegian and Sawyer Yoder, they are able to spread out of the floor too much for a lot of defensive units. Bounce feels like he’s been talking about play in the post a lot lately, so consider me a broken record here. The difference should be Brent Cox because it takes a special kind of defender to slow him, let alone stop him.
Bounce picks East Noble
Snider at Concordia, Friday
With last Saturday’s game against Warsaw lost, Snider will have to use a bounce back game earlier in the week against Canterbury to figure out and clean up whatever happened last Friday. This game isn’t as crucial, but it is up there on the list. Snider is basically out of the SAC race, they lose this and they are completely out. Concordia loses this and suddenly, they are basically out of the conference title race. The first time these two met, it was all Snider until they let off the gas and let a good Cadets team sprint back into the game. This is about starting fast.
Bounce picks Snider
Woodlan at Heritage, Friday
If you read Bounce’s column just one day ago — BOUNCE’S REFLECTION: What to take from the prep hoops week (Jan. 7-12) — then you know how I feel about the first meeting between these two teams. If this too is a game of runs, Woodlan is going to want to make sure they aren’t on the back end of things. The Warriors did a phenomenal job of playing catch up so many times, but that isn’t ideal. This is a situation where I’d like to see them establish Joe Reidy more in the post than off the dribble. Momentum could be a factor, so winning the first time would favor the Patriots, as would a potential ACAC Tournament title.
Bounce picks Heritage
Bishop Luers at Bishop Dwenger, Monday
No reason given for this game’s reported move to Monday, but lets go with it. The teams are playing for third place in the conference and while I would have gone as far as to say I saw Luers in or around that spot in the preseason, the Saints have been one of the best surprises in the conference all year. How drained is Luers after just a weekend off following an emotionally testing two overtime win over Carroll? This may not be the best girls game of the week, but it is going to be a shootout.
Bounce picks Bishop Luers
Norwell at Jay County, Tuesday
Momentum. I’ve mentioned that, right? Monday will have seen both of these teams played weather delayed games and nothing could pump you up more than clinching the NE8 (if Norwell beats Bellmont) or winning an ACAC Tournament (if Jay County beats Heritage). But losing those games could be deflating too. Overall though, on a level playing field, it is hard to pick against a team that can just hit you from so, so, so many directions and then some.
Bounce picks Norwell
Bellmont at Huntington North, Friday
If Bellmont were to win on Monday night, this game becomes more important because it would be to clinch the Northeast 8 outright. If they lose, they probably still want to win it. Huntington North plays good basketball most nights and can give teams a run for their money, but lacking a true second or third option behind Madalyn Robrock has slowed them at times. Bellmont doesn’t have that worry. They have three main options and more to back them up. It will also be hard for the Viking guards to find an answer for Grace Hunter.
Bounce picks Bellmont
South Side at Penn, Saturday
The Archers knew this stretch wasn’t going to be an easy one and they did that to ready them for the postseason. Their defense against Homestead has been fantastic and they drove a bigger divide between second and third in the SAC last Friday with their demolition of Concordia. Penn, at 19-0, just happens to be one of the best teams in this state and a clear contender in Class 4A. The number to watch here is 14.4, which is how many steals per game Penn has. South Side needs to take extra special care of the basketball each possession. This game will be played at 3 p.m. at South Bend Washington.
Bounce picks Penn
Heritage at Bluffton, Saturday
This was almost the ACAC Tournament final if not for Jay County’s miraculous comeback last week. What that shows is that coach Karl Grau has his team firmly focused on big wins right before tournament time as they will look to defend their Sectional title. That is a bad path for Heritage to be stuck in. The Patriots looked good last Friday in a surprising demolition of South Adams and can really be a force on the boards. They made it difficult for the Starfires to get multiple opportunities most times up the court.
Bounce picks Bluffton
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