One of these two teams looks quite different than they did a year ago when the Cougars claimed the clash in Albion. Now they will take their game to the south side of Fort Wayne for a primetime meeting on the opening Saturday of high school basketball season.
Besides the fact that both teams take up place in the first Outside the Huddle power poll of the 2019-2020 season, this game is made big by the fact that it is the first big weekend night game this season.
1. LIFE WITHOUT A SUPERSTAR
Anyone who doesn’t pinpoint this as a major focus this weekend is kidding themselves. Central Noble will be without Sydney Freeman and Meleah Leatherman and is a major game changer. Little argument could be made against these two being the best two Cougars ever and that is a big hole to fill.
Even last year when these two teams played and Freeman didn’t score a ton, she changed the game in so many other ways.
The lack of that pair for Central Noble will change how every player on the team plays and will change how Josh Treesh coaches.
2. A FAST START OR A SLOW START
Last season, the Knights were highly ranked by Outside the Huddle and others in the preseason. This season is the same. But last year, they started 0-3, kicking off with a loss in this match up. Regardless of the opponent across from them, the Knights know that going into this season they have to play faster and have to win quicker.
If the Knights falter out of the gate in this one, not only could it lead to giving Central Noble a boost, but it could hurt Bishop Luers in the long run. With there next three games against three of the best teams in the area in Angola, South Side and Norwell, Bishop Luers must start fast this season.
3. DEFENSE WINS
Bishop Luers is replacing the Gray twins and Libby Bierbaum, three tough defenders from a season ago. Central Noble, if you haven’t heard yet, lost Sydney Freeman who averaged five steals per game in 2018-2019.
This was a 50-35 game last season because both of these programs have prided themselves at open court, game changing defense and rim protection. She who defends best expects the ‘W’ on Saturday night. Both teams averaged 11.5 steals per game last season.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
DELANEY BAILEY, BISHOP LUERS
We will be getting to know Bailey much better in this game than we ever have. She didn’t get a true test last season, playing late in the year only because of a transfer. She did great in those appearances, but who is she really in the grand scheme of Luers and the SAC? This game will tell specific tales.
SAMANTHA BRUMBAUGH, CENTRAL NOBLE
In the new era of Central Noble, much attention has been given to a pair of juniors who have been in the starting lineup. But what about Brumbaugh, a quality piece that too is from the Cougars’ state title team. Brumbaugh was the fifth player to play over 20 minutes per game last season, averaging 2.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Her numbers will have to rise, but she has been a steady presence for Central Noble for multiple seasons and having a constant like her is critical.
KENNEDY GLENN, BISHOP LUERS
With Central Noble lacking experienced posts, this is an area that the Knights will likely look too. So can Glenn assert dominance early as the Cougars get their feet wet? At her best, Glenn can score at the rim with most players and do it through contact. She is probably even tougher at the defensive end. If this game goes inside, Glenn can open that domain.
BRIDGETTE GRAY, CENTRAL NOBLE
Let’s call out the elephant in the room: Gray is supposed to be the heir apparent. Her 13 points in last year’s win over Bishop Luers was a bit of a coming out party. It established her as an offensive threat on all three levels and she grew that last season. If Central Noble is to be anywhere near as successful as they have been in the past few seasons, the general feeling is that Gray will have to be the one to lead them.
KEYS TO VICTORY – BISHOP LUERS
1. FEED THE POST
We mentioned the importance of Kennedy Glenn, but let us not forget the impact of Lydia Reimbold and Anna Parent in the post as well. Bishop Luers has a lot of options down low. The three of them hit for a combined 51 percent from two point range last season and had 16.4 rebounds per game of the Knights’ 34.2 per game. This is a tough triple headed monster to contain.
2. TEST THE BREAK
We don’t know yet what kind of depth Central Noble will play with, but with so many returners we know what Bishop Luers has and we know that they can play fast. Look for Reimbold and Janaiya Bright to push the pace of this game. Their team will keep up. Central Noble may or may not.
KEYS TO VICTORY – CENTRAL NOBLE
1. PLAY BY THE SAME RULES
Just because the makeup of the team may be different doesn’t mean what they do has to change completely. Coach Josh Treesh and his staff have developed quality game plans to maximize the program’s potential. That doesn’t have to change even if some plays do or the personnel does. Central Noble established rules for their program and it bred success. They should play this game by those rules too.
2. CONTROL THE REBOUNDING
Easier said that done because of the size that Luers possesses, but the Cougars are going to need everybody to crash the boards. There is still enough experience and toughness with Gray, Brumbaugh, Lydia Andrews and Jocelyn Winebrenner that Central Noble is going to fight for the ball. If they can make the most of their chances, especially second ones coming from offensive rebounds, the Cougars can control this game.
Until we know what Central Noble will look like, the advantage leans towards a Luers program consistent and with their best players back. Not to say I don’t believe in the Cougars, just to say that they will have some growing pains. Bounce picks Bishop Luers