Class 3A heads to West Noble for the fourth of four area Sectionals in the class. This one could be just as wide open as the others. That adds to the excitement right?
Fairfield is the defending Sectional champion but lost a lot after last year’s championship team so it is more likely that we see a new winner this week when they take the court at West Noble.
Around the state, this is considered the favorite with John Harrell’s website even going as far as to call them 51.17 percent favorites. Bounce thinks that is a bit much, but I will play along with the favorite role even though I know how dangerous some of those other teams are.
Only twice this year has NorthWood followed a loss with a single win. Meaning? Well they are good at putting together win streaks. So a loss January 21, followed by a win on January 24 would mean that they could be on the verge of another streak. Going eight players deep, NorthWood came within two points of beating Norwell this season. They shoot the ball rather well at 45 percent, led by a 60 percent from Maddy Payne, one of a whole host of juniors and seniors that make this team so solid.
Does their youth make them a liability? I doubt it. Payne and junior Kate Rulli make up half of their scoring every game and almost half of each night’s rebounding.
WEST NOBLE (15-5)
They were one of the last teams in the area to pick up their first loss of the season and have only lost one game by double digits. Considering they split games with Lakeland, we will take that double digit loss off the board. What do we know? West Noble is very hard to put away. Ask Angola (it took overtime). Ask undefeated Central Noble.
The Chargers are led by a stellar lineup of seniors: Megan Godfrey, Lauren Burns, Madison Schermerhorn, Angela Gross, Tori Miller and Tara Miller that have won 66 games in the past four years and just one Sectional game. The Chargers don’t want to leave their own hosted tournament and final games without a trophy. Where there is a will, there is a way and that has been something West Noble has been showing all season long.
Opening Tuesday against Wawasee is a good draw for Lakeland and likely sets up a matchup of two of the Sectional’s best scorers on Friday. We will get to Tippecanoe Valley’s big scorer, but let’s talk Bailey Hartsough. The girl doesn’t get enough credit in a Fort Wayne centered ‘area’ because of Lakeland’s outlier status. The sophomore averages 18.4 points per game and save for a recent weak performance against West Noble, she has been in double figures all year; that is 18 against Tippecanoe Valley and 29 against West Noble in their first meeting included. This team is close to being a contender.
TIPPECANOE VALLEY (15-6)
The Vikings are another team that could line up under contender if I am being honest with myself. They will face the winner of Wawasee and Lakeland and with it likely being the Lakers, we will get our answer very quickly about the Vikings. Their one loss in Class 3A came to sectional opponent NorthWood. It all starts for the Vikings with Sophie Bussard and then there is a significant dropoff. But she makes up for that with 21.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.6 steals and three assists per game. If you haven’t noticed, she does a little bit of everything. She has scored no less than 12 point any game this year.
One win versus Class 3A is a far cry from a team who won a Regional title last year. But also, all of those characters are gone from coach Brodie Garber’s lineup. The Falcons have struggled to be consistent, but are still very young and will need to use this experience as a learning situation when they face host West Noble on Tuesday. They will want to get the ball into the hands of Riley Miller and hope she gets hot from deep.
The Warriors have win over Fairfield that was a good one, but it won’t due them much good here as neither is likely to get to the finals for a rematch. Getting outscored by almost 20 points per game, Wawasee is likely fodder for Lakeland on Tuesday.
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