Weekend shootouts are even more fun than during the week and Huntington University is always host to a slew of games both on their campus and at Huntington North High School, where I hopped on over to this weekend. Huntington will again be buzzing with games next Friday for another shootout.
It was a busy Saturday for shootouts with both Purdue Fort Wayne and Norwell hosting events, but the chance to see a retooled Huntington North, along with a few more area schools was appealing. Side note: next time the schedule says Carroll, clarify Fort Wayne or Flora because I was certainly confused to see not one recognizable player in Huntington. Doesn’t help that the two programs have the same colors and ‘C’ on their jerseys.
But I did get to see a trifecta of Outside the Huddle area schools and while Wabash sits outside our “area,” you will also get some analysis on them.
And as always, please remember folks that it is just June.
As expected, Deven Newcomb (main image) is the most consistent piece so far in Huntington North’s pretty hard reset. His fierceness for the ball and smooth lateral movement helped him ace Carroll (Flora) in the 10 a.m. game and he never let up all day, still torching Prairie Heights in game four, making the Panthers’ solid perimeter defense seem pedestrian. Newcomb follows his shot well and created multiple second chance opportunities for himself and teammates by doing so. Overall, he was one of the most complete players that I took in on Saturday and did so with a calming presence.
Both Newcomb and Jordan Hollowell, the main returning pieces for the Vikings, worked well getting into passing lanes leading to transition offense. It helped the Vikings score the first 19 points against Carroll (Flora). Hollowell used more muscle by game three of Huntington North’s day, working to get to the rim against a very similar player in Richmond’s Jordan Stolle. He is one of the Vikings’ biggest players so the more post presence he provided, the better off the Vikings were.
Sam Thompson played far tougher than his stature implies at first glance. He toughed it out with stockier Carroll (Flora) players trying to assert dominance. Many times throughout the day, he played like the most determined kid on the court. The prospect of Zach Hubbart as a “three and D” player gives the Vikings some depth and Dom Cardwell plays intelligent in the post, rebounds strong but still looks to be a bit of a project on the varsity level.
Elijah Malone has remarkably solid ball handling for a guy his size and it helped him force spacing against Huntington North. The Vikings had to adjust and not just guard him straight up as a post because of it. In the second half against Huntington North, Malone was able to dribble out of trouble from the paint to the short corner and then spin back in, passing his defender in the process to slam in home. Malone slipping screens he set for teammates was smooth, creating mismatches that he could exploit in the post. Once at the rim, he has such a soft touch that the Huntington players had a tendency to overplay him. He even knocked down a three in the closing seconds to get Prairie Heights within one point in a game they then won by one point when Mike Perkins hit two fouls shots after taking the ball to the rim with 3.2 seconds left.
Brandon Christlieb left the best impression of any perimeter player for the Panthers. Christlieb looked unbothered moving and shooting the ball with defenders attached to his hip. He was one of few players all day that was clearly able to defend three or more positions on the floor while also be throw into rotating roles offensively. Christlieb wasn’t just steady in a complimentary role, but instead made the most effort in a win over Huntington North when Prairie Heights too often seemed flat.
Perkins, the returning leading scorer, never seemed to settle into a pace as a scorer in the one Panther game I saw. However, that did allow him to do some good things as a pass first point guard to keep Prairie Heights in the game. And in the end, as true leaders do, he made that final play that got his team the win. Layne Bachelor also played some quality minutes defensively for the Panthers.
Prairie Heights’ press and ability to collapse on interior threats were nice but against a team like the Vikings, it left them chasing quality jump shooters more often than not.
The Squires interior defense leaves a lot to be desired. They do not have much in the way of rim protection and that means that their perimeter defense has to be at an extra strong level. Offensively, the lack of an overall inside presence hurts because of how jump shot oriented they are. There just weren’t enough second and third shot opportunities for them against Temple Christian or Richmond. However, they did find the win column each time. Kreeden Krull appears to be one that will be leaned on inside.
Thane Creager seems like a very settled piece in what the Squires do offensively. He was comfortable getting around and off screens in a way that creates maximum space for a smooth left handed jumper. In the win over Richmond, by far the more impressive of the two I saw on Saturday, he really helped clean up some of the interior issues by gathering good rebounds.
It should come as no surprise to my readers who those who have ever taken in a TPE game on the summer circuit: Weston Hamby was again the most multi-faceted player on the court. Hamby alters the game in so many ways that all start with his shooting. Hamby can be dead eye and was in parts of both Manchester games I saw. Yet his fight to get to the basket and ability to maneuver his smaller frame around defenders near and at the rim kept any defensive scheme off balance.
Max Carter gives Manchester another quality option, with Carter being a kid who’s ball handling was critical. With him being able to bring the ball up the court and when he was trusted with the offense, Hamby and Creager were freed up to create off ball. Carter, while not a major scoring threat in what I witnessed Saturday, did provide the next most critical role as a distributor and pace setter to a Squire offense predicated on getting its top players clean looks at the basket.
The Apaches struggled with a too quick transition game early that allowed Richmond to jump out in the lead with their shooting. In the straight up half court, Wabash’s aggressive denial defense prevented any kind of look at all for long stretches, eventually frustrating Richmond into unforced errors. It spelled out clearly that is Wabash can make games their own pace and play aggressively in the half court with ball denial, they will be tough for many teams to score against.
Offensively, Wabash played their best when working the ball the ball through Elijah Vander Velden, mostly in the high post. He himself was very tough to defend at the basket because of his length but moreso because of his soft touch and a smooth jump hook that created extra space. He likes the idea of the mid ranger jumper and he is able to create that shot for himself, but isn’t knocking it down with the consistency he has to with as much as he shoots it. All roads leading through him makes the most sense for Wabash.
Those roads however will often lead to Trenton Daughtry, who established his presence last season. Daugherty was often bothered by the busy hands and rapid fire feet of Richmond’s Koream Jett with the ball in his hands and didn’t shoot very well on Saturday morning. Without Jett’s presence, and credit to him, Daugherty was an aggressive leader and facilitator on both sides of the ball, defending a larger Richmond player intelligently and leading an offensive ball rotation that helped will Wabash back into the ball game and ultimately secure the win. His scoring ability won’t be a question, but seeing how well he led his troops in beating Richmond was a big positive for Wabash.
Shooting was key for Wabash throughout the day with Dereck Vogel working the midrange while Joe Leland was a threat on the perimeter.
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