Outside the Huddle is breaking down every area boys basketball sectional as the playoffs loom.
Today we look at Class 3A Sectional 23, which will be hosted by Bellmont.
The best thing that could happened to the Giants was dropping to 3A due to declining enrollment.
Since the drop prior to the 2015-16 season, Marion has won a pair of sectionals, a regional, a semistate and a state title in 2016.
This season, Marion is a threat again in 3A, led by sophomore Jalen Blackmon, brother of James Jr. and Vijay. Blackmon is one of the leading scorers in the state, averaging 29.9 points per game. He shoots a lot (over 200 more shots than the next-highest Giant) but he is making 46 percent from the field.
Blackmon has help from a pair of other underclassmen – junior Jakylen Thomas (14.9 ppg) and Rasheed Jones (9.9 ppg).
No team in this sectional can match the pace of play that Marion is going to try to will onto its opponent. If you slow Marion down, you have a chance.
Outside the Huddle believes this is the only team in this sectional that has a chance at slowing down Marion. After all, Norwell has held teams like Wayne and East Noble below their season averages. In fact, no teams has eclipsed the 60-point mark against he Knights this year.
Add in the capable ability of Will Geiger to completely take over a game offensively, and the Knights may have a shot against Marion, which likely will come at 6 p.m. Friday.
Yes, the Patriots did beat Norwell earlier this month, but Heritage has struggled over the past few weeks.
But there are two things that are working in Heritage’s favor entering the postseason. For starters, they are a veteran team, with seniors Cameron Mitchell, Jaydon Harris and Alec Burton all with plenty of experience on the floor. Second, the draw is favorable, with Heritage only having to play either Marion or Norwell, and only in the championship.
Credit Jonathon Fuelling taking a 19-loss team and in two years reaching double digits in victories. With his junior son Kade leading the way offensively, the Braves have become one of the better teams in the NE8.
Bellmont has depth too, with Aaron Lehrman and Brady Manis among the contributors as well. This team is also competing on its home floor and gets a bye into the semifinal. But this squad still doesn’t look the part of being ready to get two big wins in two nights and win a sectional crown.
Perhaps the Braves will surprise some people.
First-year coach James Reed has done an admirable job with the Indians, especially with football sensation Heisman Skeens the lone senior among the top contributors.
Mississinewa gets a rematch with Norwell to open sectional play. In November, the Indians lost 61-55 at Norwell.
While it wouldn’t be surprising if Mississinewa pulled the upset against Norwell, we cannot give the Indians much of a shot at beating a team like Marion. The Giants trounced Mississinewa by 25 points just a few weeks ago.
BISHOP LUERS (4-17)
Year 1 has not been as kind to Fonso White, who will finish out his rookie year with the Knights this week. Interestingly, Bishop Luers lost by just two to Marion earlier this season, only lost to Bellmont by one just last week and then beat Norwell.
Demarcus Hudson and Naylon Thompson are exceptional athletes who can fill up the hoop. Do they have enough around them to pull off an upset or two?
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