Saturday meant more summer basketball, but this time Bounce took in some of the girls action taking place at Norwell High School and Middle School. A good event throughout the day with games being played at the middle school and the three courts of the auxiliary gym while duct work is being done in the main gym. I’m also told that the Knights will kick off next school year with a brand new court to go with that new turf they are getting on the football field.
Taking in one or more game from seven different area teams, I got to see some groups that are undergoing a lot of changes, whether it be enhanced roles or adjusting to life without a graduated star.
As always guys, remember it is just June.
Defensively, Norwell causes a lot of chaos as should be expected. Jumping out to a 12-2 lead at 9 in the morning and forcing two Concordia timeouts immediately is a special kind of pressure. Not only did Norwell get those turnovers, they scored off of them quickly in transition. In their opener, the hustle and speed of Norwell shined in a high 1-3-1 zone that left little space for passes to get through. The highlight of the zone is the speed of Lauren Bales on the bottom of the zone. There was no way to swing the ball to the corner against Bales, who scores the width of the floor so quickly.
I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but Norwell’s weave in the half court is a thing of beauty when the Knights take the time to allow it to play out. Everyone knows they do it, yet teams were left chasing Bales, Maiah Shelton and Kaylee Fuelling and eventually freeing up the middle of the lane for a drive. Fuelling stayed gritty while Shelton and Bales worked fundamentally to get those looks against Concordia and Tippecanoe Valley. But that is nothing we don’t already know. That triple headed monster looked similar to how it has for the past two seasons.
Hailey Henschen and Mackenzie Toliver filled out the starting lineup. Toliver didn’t flex a lot offensively, but was a steady presence capable of being another shooter or a drive and dish option. Henschen gives Norwell some height to play off of and she is a good offensive rebounder who needs more polish as a finisher. Norwell was without usual lead post Breann Barger, who I am told was in Honduras on a missions trip.
The Patriots ran solid offensive sets that begin with Madison Dirksen and Hallie Fields posting on either block. The post duo provided some unique opportunities for Jay County and both rebounded the ball offensively very well to help the Patriots have long, sustainable offensive possessions. Fields gets to the rim well from the short corner and has a nice jump hook/push shot hybrid that is odd to look at yet effective.
The Patriots did a good job of getting out in transition with their rebounders and clearly are confident with their ball handling across the board with their starting five. Renna Schwieterman was the most consistent player on the court, staying active in all facets of the game by reading the court and all other nine players’ positioning well. Against Concordia, her height provided her a major matchup advantage as she was much more active with the ball than Cadet posts were ready for.
The knock on the Patriots would come defensively where what appeared to be a 2-3 matchup zone wasn’t tight enough most of the time against Tippecanoe Valley for the rotation of the matchups to work correctly. Instead, the Patriots gave up too many uncontested shots that took a big early advantage and turned it into an eight point deficit at the halftime break. The Patriots seemed too relaxed with the lead against Tippecanoe Valley and it caught up with them in a big eventual loss.
A Concordia without Carissa Garcia is weird. It also means there was less overall hustle. Concordia struggled mightily to rebound even when Norwell did not have a bigger lineup in their 9 a.m. game. They benefited greatly in the second half against Norwell and the rest of the day from the addition of Chanteese Craig. Craig was even better against Jay County, working through multi player defensive attacks to showcase her improved footwork at the rim. Annaka Nelson really worked at establishing that she can be a quality post as well.
On a bright note, Concordia did showcase some quick ball movement at various times. CC Calloway, Elle Fritcha and Nelson work well in a triangle with Nelson working on the block. Calloway is a threat to get to the rim and had great first step blow by potential when she is at her best and Fritcha has a good looking shot and appeared to be the most aggressive Cadet on the court a lot. Nelson did a nice job of pinning her defender in the post but the Cadets didn’t get the ball down to her enough in those situations.
There is a lot of work to do for Concordia considering the level they have been at in recent years, but there are good pieces in place.
NOTE: The original version of this column stated that Chastity Craig played for Concordia this weekend. Instead it was her twin sister Chanteese who played. The column has been updated to correct that. Apologies for any inconvenience. Twins, right?
The Tigers didn’t finish at the rim well against Wawasee or Concordia. That in itself is certainly a negative. But they did a good job of getting themselves into point blank opportunities on their dribble drive and with offensive rebounding. Natalie Lehrman and Olivia King both had moments where they came out of nowhere to keep a possession alive on the boards and Lehrman could be a steady addition to the varsity level as Bluffton needs girls who are willing to work as hard as she did on Saturday.
King and Emme Boots running the point guard position changes the Bluffton dynamic some because they are both more active than passive. The two of them and Sam Meyer all played as threats when face guarded because of their first step attacking the basket. Meyer impresses on her baseline attack but has to finish stronger.
Boots lacked a step or two on Saturday, sometimes out of frustration. She seemed at her most comfortable playing off of Zoe Barger and working in a high pick and roll situation where a defensive switch means Boots can exploit what the other team may not consider a mismatch. Late against Wawasee, Boots was really strong working the low baseline, skirting the out of bounds area but still being able to finish at the basket.
As efficient at points as anyone I saw Saturday defensively, Woodlan defenders got their hands on the ball in a variety of ways. Interceptions, deflections and outright theft of the ball were viable options in the transition from their full court pressure back into a 2-3 zone against Tippecanoe Valley. Woodlan was in good shape when they could push the pace and limit the length of either team’s possession. It was when Tippecanoe Valley able to slow things down that they were able to grind down the Warrior offense or pull apart an otherwise solid defense to find gaps and offensive rebounds.
Dakotah Krohn proved to be a multi dimensional scorer against a tough and quick Tippecanoe Valley, including a seven point run of her own early to give Woodlan a 9-2 lead. In that run, she drained a triple off the kickout of a driving Addie Bayman, out in a transition layup after bouncing off heavy contact and then added a putback off an offensive rebound. Krohn was constantly involved on both sides of the ball and played as an ultimate workhorse while I watched the Warriors, scoring 11 of their first 15 points.
Bayman’s court vision was nice in transition against Tippy Valley. She was able to find teammates with semi cross court passes that I didn’t even see open with unobstructed vision and also get to the basket drawing enough contact needed to get to the line, though she struggled to finish at the rim through that contact. Taya Kitzmiller was high energy as a third guard, who was incredible active on the glass.
An uptick in the offensive aggression of Dori Javins certainly helped push the Knights through a successful day. Javins and Janaiya Bright both showed passion in getting to the rim. The Knights are going to need more aggression in the post but they were missing some pieces through the day on Saturday. Having Javins and Bright attacking gaps and penetrating defenses put the Knights in the drivers seat, especially against Wawasee. Matching opposing aggression made Luers’ day easier.
Lydia Reimbold was arguably the best single player on Saturday. There were a lot of times last season she probably wasn’t 100 percent, but that doesn’t appear to be the case now. Reimbold looked comfortable playing on the wing and also with her back to the basket. She was a passionate rebounder and her enthusiasm ripples through the entire team. There has been the expectation that Reimbold would kick her game into another gear sooner than later and Saturday was an indication that she is well on her way to doing so.
My time with the Chargers was limited, but I did like what I saw from Lilly Mast. She plays so much bigger than her own frame and is a gracious facilitator. Her own tempo pushes her team to move well and spread the floor, where she seems to be a good decision maker on if she is going to take the shot or move the ball around. I also enjoyed watching Jazmyn Smith, who attacked the basket with potency and was able to finish strong through contact.
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