Saturday night, we will crown champions in nine area Sectionals. Bounce is making his picks, perhaps my final predictions of the year.
THIS SEASON: 111-52
CLASS 4A AT DEKALB
NORTHROP vs. EAST NOBLE
This is an interesting matchup that’s really going to test out some of the size of East Noble in ways that they have not been tested all season. Brent Cox has been a superior post against most other teams he’s matched up against and Ali Ali’s length is a cause for concern. But has East Noble had to deal with a load quite the size of Sydney Curry? Northrop has had their ups and downs late in the season, which is well documented. But now that they are here, one game away from a sectional title and a trophy that would make any of their doubters eat some crow, do the Bruins have what it takes to stomp their foots on East Noble’s proverbial throat and push forward in this game?
On the perimeter, the matchup is fairly even with a lot of good guards with good ball movement and a lot of timely shooters. This could be as even of a match up as we’ve seen in this entire DeKalb hosted sectional. If you’re looking for somewhere to go Saturday night, Bounce is going to suggest this one. That’s where I’ll be. Don’t forget fans of the MAC, there will be the attack of the MAC in this one as future Miami of Ohio player Sydney Curry faces future Akron Zip Ali Ali.
Bounce picks East Noble
CLASS 4A AT WAYNE
HUNTINGTON NORTH vs. WAYNE
Let’s talk about a complete clash of styles with that traditional Craig Teagle slow it down versus the speed it up General style. It’s similar to what we saw on Friday night when Huntington North played South Side, but does Wayne have better pieces? There are two pieces that Wayne possess that most teams don’t starting with Craig Young, who we all know is just a freak of an athlete and can put any team on his back at any given moment. And Bounce likes Darius Alexander. The big man is such a force inside and gives teams pause about coming into the paint.
For a Huntington North team that will rely so much on Sawyer Stoltz and, at times, Hank Pulver, do those two posts for Wayne give you a reason for concern? As much as South Side had a good post presence, it was not Young and Alexander. Look for a tough as nails match up on the perimeter too. Zach Daughtery is no nonsense and Cam Starks is having the sectional of his life during his senior season. Another good one in 4A with both teams looking for a monumental sectional title win for their program.
Bounce picks Huntington North
CLASS 3A AT GARRETT
ANGOLA vs. NEW HAVEN
With the ups and downs New Haven has had in their season, making it to a Saturday championship game has to make the Bulldogs feel good. They’ve never been able to gather much momentum this season and that is why we haven’t looked at them as a legit contender. A favorable Sectional draw put them in the position to make it to the final, now let’s see what they can do with it. I’m telling you now that Thomas Latham is going to be a breakout player here for people who haven’t seen New Haven on a bigger stage this year. Look for him and his aggression to be a catalyst in the game.
But are their offensive problems, especially as shaky as it’s been, good enough to deal with Angola’s smothering defensive presence? I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I like Blake Pocock to make a difference in this one. He’s been in big game situations before he was an Angola Hornet and now he’s just making better memories.
Bounce picks Angola
CLASS 3A AT BELLMONT
MARION vs. HERITAGE
Marion has been a Jekyll and Hyde team this year, starting slow but finishing strong. On Friday night, they kept Norwell out of any comfort zone and saw the Knights hesitate to even shoot the ball in most situations, especially in the first half. Something about the weight of Marion, their athleticism and that uncanny star power of Jalen Blackmon held Norwell at bay. Is Heritage as likely to hesitate? My guess would be no after spending the first half hesitating in their own right on Friday night against Bellmont.
The Patriots know that they were very close to seeing their season come to a, pretty well considered, premature ending on Friday night at Bellmont. The host Braves torched Heritage on the glass and on the interior of the first half, and the Patriots responded in kind by dominating the second half in most aspects of the game. Whatever Heritage coach Adam Gray fed his team at halftime of that game, Bounce wants some. Maybe it was some of those storied Monroeville crickets. Heritage has long had the tools to be very successful. Their inside presence with Cameron Mitchell and Jason Holliness-Bell, their shooting off the hands of Jaydon Harris and Alec Burton and the raw physicality of Walter Knapke make them very balanced.
Which Heritage will we see? And can they hit shots consistently against the Marion team that is absolutely going to, especially if Blackmon or JK Thomas get open. Heritage in the second half Friday was a scary team to try and handle.
Bounce picks Marion
CLASS 2A AT EASTSIDE
ADAMS CENTRAL vs. BLUFFTON
Adam Central has to be a lot happier with their sectional final match up against conference foe Bluffton then they would’ve if they had to take out the physicality of Churubusco. That said, Bluffton was strong enough and physical enough to take out Churubusco, so let’s not underestimate the Tigers just yet. Bluffton also has the luxury of a guy on their sideline in Chris Benedict who is one of the area’s best and perhaps even most underrated coaches.
We’ve seen this one already this year with Adams Central coming out on top the first time and Bluffton winning the second meeting. Who has learned since those games that were just seven days apart? The fact stays in my mind that if Kevin Brown gets going, he’s going to be able to run away with this one. Is that a big if? Eastside has been a shooters gym so far this week so that’s definitely going to benefit the Flying Jets and “Downtown.” If you ever listen to Bounce, you know I have a particular blueprint I think helps you succeed in the postseason. That is have three legitimate scorers and have them tiered and not be similar in the way they score. Adam Central has that, Bluffton may or may not.
Bounce picks Adams Central
CLASS 2A AT WESTVIEW
WESTVIEW vs. PRAIRIE HEIGHTS
Prairie Heights is going to get their third chance to try to knock off Westview. And what a feeling it would be for them if they were able to do it and do it on Westview’s homecourt. That is far easier said than done. The Westview Warriors at Westview are practically unbeatable because of the overwhelming hometown crowd support. They will be out in droves on both sides. On Saturday night if you want a true dose of Hoosier Hysteria, to whichever degree it still exists, Westview is the place to be.
Bounce expects a standing room only crowd to see the Warriors attempt to defend their Sectional title. Prairie Heights has been playing tough and their inside, outside rhythm of Elijah Malone and Mike Perkins has been working for them. But have they really gotten better enough in such a short time to hold down a Westview team that seems to just be getting better? Outside of a fluke loss last Friday, Westview has exceeded expectations and they want another shot to get back to the state title game. This one comes down to Bounce to having that in mind. Led by Charlie Yoder and Elijah Hales, Westview is playing to get to state. Prairie Heights is playing to beat Westview. Big picture, big time.
Bounce picks Westview
CLASS 1A AT FREMONT
BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN vs. FREMONT
I would love to say I was giving Fremont much of a chance in Class 1A on Saturday night, but 64 and 73 point wins say that Blackhawk Christian is just going to roll through this one. It will be fun to see Fremont standout Tanner Behnfeldt against a top-tier defense and see how he can succeed with a player like Frankie Davidson, if he gets the call, defending him. Behnfeldt’s 39 points in the sectional opening round is one of the top scoring efforts in the area this year and he’s proven he can score on just about anyone.
The problem comes that behind him, Fremont has some tough guys, but they don’t have anywhere near the scoring depth that Blackhawk Christian has. Case in point, the always capable Abe Hicks had a game high 22 points on Friday night. I don’t care if they were playing Hamilton, by adding another guy to your lineup that you’re showcasing can score 20+ points, you are in good shape. Plus, it’s Marc Davidson‘s birthday week and he’s not going to shy away from anything other than a big-time victory where he can have his cake and eat it too.
Bounce picks Blackhawk Christian
CLASS 1A AT WES-DEL
SOUTHERN WELLS vs. LIBERTY CHRISTIAN
What if I told you that the Class 1A final at Wes-Del was one of the hardest to pick? And not even because Bounce doesn’t know; I have actually seen both of these teams play this year. But neither Southern Wells nor Liberty Christian entered the postseason with a winning record. Yet here we are. Southern Wells is capable of playing very good basketball, but being a team in a conference that has teams in 2A, 3A and 4A doesn’t make for an easy life.
The Raiders are a tough and physical team and find themselves in a similar position that they were in last year when they won the sectional with a losing overall record. But is Liberty Christian, with a couple of good sectional games under their belt, rising back up to meet some standards that the program used to have? Christian Nunn is my pick to be the best player left in this sectional, but at the end of the day Southern Wells’ size is intimidating from Thomas Biddle and others. If this comes down to a bruiser game, there is no doubt that Southern Wells has the advantage. Plus, they have been here before.
Bounce picks Southern Wells
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