If there is a better Saturday than Regional Saturday, I sure don’t know what it is. The build up and anticipation for two big games is great. The fact that the winner is just one game away from a state final is greater.
As Outside the Huddle continues its look at area regionals, we head to Columbia City to take a look at one of the more interesting four-team fields in the state.
Every coach wants their team peaking in time for the postseason, but rarely does it turn out that way. But the Hornets are in that position now, having dominated a competitive Concordia Sectional by winning three games by an average of 26 points.
Angola has lost once since early December, and that was to undefeated Central Noble in the NECC Tournament. Sophomore Hanna Knoll is the leading scorer, but this is a team built on offensive balance coupled with a stifling defense.
That defense is why Angola has the edge here. The challenge is a bigger one this weekend, particularly when facing a scorer the caliber of Cameron Tabor (24.1 ppg for New Castle) in the morning. But the Hornets have thrived in the latter half of the season with their defense forcing turnovers and leading to some easy opportunities on offense. If that continues, Angola can win its first regional crown in school history.
Some wonder if the Giants would be in this position if Bellmont’s Meghan Busick hadn’t gotten injured in the sectional semifinal and missed the championship game. Regardless of the what if, coach Lawrence Jordan’s team made the plays late against Bellmont to prevail.
The Giants present some challenges, namely defending 6-foot-6 junior RaShaya Kyle. While Bellmont was able to bottle up Kyle in the first half last Monday, Jordan was able to adjust to the defense and call up different ways to feed Kyle in position to succeed. That, coupled with some on-point three-point shooting from the outside, particularly from Olivia Aguilar, put Marion over the top. It may be able to do so again on Saturday.
WEST NOBLE (18-5)
It has been a long time since the Chargers were in this position, with the program’s last sectional championship coming in 1988.
But things get real now in regional play. This is a senior-laden group with the likes of Megan Godfrey, Lauren Burns, Madison Schermerhorn and Angela Gross, so while there will be some nerves on Saturday morning, this team should handle it. Sophomore Lillian Mast is the key here. If she can settle in and knock down some early shots, she could get going and West Noble could give Marion a game.
The concern is the size and speed of the Giants and if West Noble can find a way to limit those advantages.
NEW CASTLE (16-9)
Cameron Tabor is the key here. She has scored in double digits in all but one game this season and averages 24.7 a game. She dropped 45 on Beech Grove and has scored 25 or more in a game 10 times.
Tabor lives on the perimeter, where she has tossed up an incredible 182 three-point attempts. She isn’t a prolific shooter from range, knocking down just 31 percent, but she has the green light every time down the floor.
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