As we kick off this week, we are closing in on just over a month remaining in the regular season. Plenty will be decided over the next 35 or so days, particularly conference championships.

Where do we stand in Bounce’s power poll? Homestead confirmed its place at No. 1 with a pair of big wins, while a pre-season favorite continues to drop.

Let’s take a closer look.

1. HOMESTEAD (19-2, 7-0 SAC)

WHY #1?

A bad shooting night and an overtime loss, both against top competition, are the only things that separate the Spartans from perfection and that is pretty solid. What can you say about them that has not already been said? Their ability to have four of their starting lineup in double figures scoring every night makes them virtually unbeatable, especially in this area.

The Spartans will get a fun test with Heritage Christian on January 21, but other than that, they should coast their way to clinching yet another SAC regular season title and, unless a team can change their game plan, a return to Sectional title glory isn’t far from their grasp.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

One ranking to rule them all.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 7-0

2. CENTRAL NOBLE (19-0, 7-0 NECC)

WHY #2?

Adding the NECC Tournament title to their trophy case again is likely just the start of championship weeks for the Cougars. They are one of only four remaining unbeaten teams in the state and have a win streak of 28. That is a long time without losing.

It has been preached all year, but I will say it again: the added depth of Central Noble makes them tough to beat. They win blowouts, they win close games, they do their job. If one player isn’t hitting, they get it to the girl who is. All around, Central Noble is tough

WHY NOT HIGHER?

They aren’t Homestead. Other than that, they are pretty good.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 3-0

3. BELLMONT (17-1, 5-0 NE8)

WHY #3?

After Monday’s win over Norwell, there can no longer be a debate on who the third best team in the area is. Bellmont’s presence, even with one of their top three players in foul trouble, was impressive in the 50-42 win over Norwell and they showed depth as well.

Bellmont hasn’t lost since November 6. That is a stretch locally that is only rivaled by Central Noble. The at will scoring of Grace Hunter is no surprise for Bellmont, but the cast around her are able to make moves, like Meghan Busick’s game clincher on Monday night. This is a team who will continue to be fun in one of the most fun Sectionals in Class 3A.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

None of the top three teams have a “bad” win. Hard to make movement in the top 3 now.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 5-1

4. NORWELL (16-2, 4-1 NE8)

WHY #4

Norwell is still in an elite class of teams here locally and have to be considered one of the top threats to make some noise for at least a couple of rounds of the postseason. Still very young, their sophomore class is playing beyond their years. One of the highlights has become the no nonsense, workhorse play of Maiah Shelton who has really emerged as their biggest threat during the second half of the season.

No rest for Norwell as they step in against Jay County, the top team from the neighboring ACAC conference and also will still battle Bishop Luers this regular season. Both are great tests not only for a younger team, but also as bounce back games after their loss to Bellmont.

WHY NOT HIGHER?’

Two losses both to teams ahead of them in our poll.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 3-2

5. SOUTH SIDE (12-6, 6-1 SAC)

WHY #5?

South Side’s defensive presence has really opened up their offensive opportunities. This is a team that, when 100 percent, is very difficult to beat and very difficult to score on especially inside. Their domination of Concordia in their second meeting last Friday was proof positive of that.

Olivia Smith is really finding her groove, not always easy for a freshman, and it will only make South Side better. They have built and built against a very tough schedule and coach Juanita Goodwell is going to have this team as ready as they can be with a possible, perhaps likely, third go around with Homestead.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Three losses combined to teams one and three.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 4-3

6. JAY COUNTY (12-7, 5-0 ACAC)

WHY #6?

The Patriots have taken a tough path to get ready for the postseason, but have found themselves thriving. They’ve clinched the conference regular season title and Monday’s win over Heritage in the ACAC Tournament finals gave them a clean sweep of their conference this season.

Some may think that how much they were challenged against Bluffton in the tournament semi finals would hurt their stock, but I see that as a more impressive trait. They battle back, fought the adversity and turned it on to a higher level when required.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

At the end of the day, they have lost to three of the teams ahead of them. They are good, but breaking into the elite is out of their reach.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 0-4

7. CONCORDIA (13-5, 4-3 SAC)

WHY #7?

Concordia has quality wins over Bellmont and Jay County, both ranked higher than them here. Teams have done a sufficient job defending Carissa Garcia, but she is still able to put up good points and the guard play around her has dramatically improved out of necessity.

The Cadets are still a favorite to win their Sectional despite what could end up being a fifth place finish in the conference.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Cadets have lost five total games, but three of their last four.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 4-5

8. ANGOLA (15-6, 7-1 NECC)

WHY #8?

The Hornets defense can be something special. It is a catalyst for them to be able to take over a lot of games and the charge is led by Hanna Knoll. It is no fluke that they ran through the NECC Tournament to the finals when they ran into the Meleah Leatherman buzzsaw.

Angola is playing high quality basketball on both ends of the court most nights. If they can find a way to start fast every game, they will be a contender to win their very tough Sectional in a few weeks. Prior to their loss Saturday to Central Noble, the Hornets had won 10 games in a row.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

They are a clear #2 behind Central Noble in the NECC. A January 23 game against Bellmont could raise their stock.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 1-3

9. BISHOP LUERS (11-6, 6-2 SAC)

WHY #9?

The Knights’ six losses have come in the form of two three game losing streaks. Outside of that, they rally off wins and this current four game win streak comes with a trio of impressive wins. They avenged a SAC Holiday Tournament loss to Concordia, fought off Carroll in double overtime and then beat Bishop Dwenger on Monday night.

The Knights are healthy again with Lydia Reimbold back in the lineup and every bit clearly helps. In her absence, and even since her return, there has been no shortage of help though. Kennedy Glenn had pretty much a career defining night in the win over Carroll.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

The Knights have lost to pretty much every team ranked higher than them.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 2-6

10. BISHOP DWENGER (10-8, 5-3 SAC)

WHY #10?

Double digits wins and a chance to play for third place in the conference probably once seemed out of the realm of possibility for the Saints, but here they are. They have a very tough front line and can give opposing backcourts fits.

Likely to head into the postseason with 11 wins, this entire season has to be considered a win for the young team, but you can’t count them out when it comes to making waves in their Sectional. They are a worry to be an upset minded team every night.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

No wins versus the Outside the Huddle top 10.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 0-5

These opinions represent those of Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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