Has the reign of Jay County finally ended as ACAC royalty? This may be the most competitive season we’ve seen in a long time in the Allen County Athletic Conference with many teams that could win on any given night.
Jay County is far from out of the picture, but true champions in this league this year are going to start with maximum effort and quality coaching. Who is going to rise? Maybe I am wrong, but Bounce takes his turn to break it down.
NOTE: The order of teams listed is Bounce’s personal predicted order of finish. Don’t sue me.
Bluffton is coming off back to back Sectional titles and that swagger is important because the Tigers are the best they have ever been. They also graduated a lot of those title teams, so it will be on Emme Boots and Olivia King (Top 50 Girls Hoops #28) to make sure they take the lead. Meryl Frank will provide some steadiness with the ball and Natalie Lehrman had a good summer as a hard worker that could help the Tigers with effort lead rebounding after the loss of a pair of centers to graduation.
Woodlan is battle tested behind Addie Bayman (pictured), but they certainly aren’t limited to her high output. Taya Kitzmiller works hard and Dakotah Krohn (Top 50 Girls Hoops #32) separated herself as one of the area’s best freshman a year ago thanks to some clutch shooting. Speaking of shooting, Gabby Joyce will be back as one of the conference’s best shooters, hitting 41 triples including four games with four or more. Effort and movement from Joyce is important for Woodlan’s contendership.
Heritage runs the way that Bree Dossen (Top 50 Girls Hoops #26) runs and we’ve known that for a long time. She is aggressive and difficult to defend. But Bounce really liked watching Abby Sheehan a year ago, developing from a quality shooter into a quality defender as the Patriots put an emphasis on getting stops. Sheehan will be a floor general this season.
Adams Central goes through some changes from their Sectional final team, but the success they had under coach Doug Curtis last year has changed the demeanor in Monroe. McKenna Dietsch will lead the way, but how much help will she have around her with so many players lost?
South Adams will look to have several players play many roles, including top returner Lydia Loshe (Top 50 Girls Hoops #46) who will have her hands full in the lead role. Gone is leading scorer Emilee Myers and most of this team is made up of sophomores and juniors who have not had to contribute at a high level.
Jay County is going to need to work on consistency as they try to stay relevant in a tougher ACAC than they probably have ever been in. The graduated their top four players and sophomore Madison Dirksen is the top returner. Dirksen is able to play hard on the block and will rebound the ball well.
Southern Wells returns both Georgia Hanauer and Jenna Eltzroth, capable of putting the ball in the basket. A win or two in the conference would do wonders for confidence since the Raiders have just six conference wins in the last five seasons.
Addie Bayman of Woodlan (Top 50 Girls Hoops #13) is the best player in the conference. Thats it. That is all Bounce needs you to know. Bayman can score at all three levels and just outworks everyone.
Emme Boots of Bluffton (Top 50 Girls Hoops #19) has gone from an extremely talented underclassman to now being in a prime leadership role. Boots knows nothing but being a champion at Bluffton and is the key to increasing that this season.
McKenna Dietsch (Top 50 Girls Hoops #33) is back as one of the top floor generals in the conference. She directs traffic and creates a lot of space on the court for the Flying Jets.
PLAYERS ON THE RISE
Ella Bickel of Heritage could be a very important piece in filling Patriot gaps. She averaged 2.6 points and 3.6 rebounds last year, but could help take over where there are losses to graduation. Bickel has a feisty to her that other teams should be ready for.
Renna Schwieterman of Jay County plays very consistent basketball. If she can keep that up and not get down on the few mistakes she makes, she will be a critical piece for the Patriots. She is consistent, but can she be consistent on a high level?
Carly Holley of Adams Central has gotten a lot better in the post. She split time in the post last season, but hit almost 60 percent inside the arc and averaged 10.2 points. She will be the 100 percent full on center this year and with full playing time, could be the best post in the conference.
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