Two of the expected area powers and preseason favorites in their own respective conferences have started the season 1-2. Chalk that up to extremely challenging schedules that don’t get any easier when the two teams face off against each other on Saturday night in Ossian.
The two teams are ranked third and seventh in the this week’s Bounce Power Poll and that is why Angola at Norwell is the Outside the Huddle Game of the Weekend for the second week of girls basketball season.
1. NORWELL BOUNCING BACK
The Knights knew their early season schedule was going to be a tough one, but the loss to Warsaw last Saturday had to have been especially frustrating because of how bad the Knights shot the ball compared to Warsaw. But keeping the other team out of it, Norwell has to bounce back from the 35.8 percent they shot in that game. Kaylee Fuelling scored 25 points, but shot just 42.1 percent from the field, worse than five of Warsaw’s players.
2. VOLLEYBALL HANGOVER?
It isn’t fair to blame the late volleyball season for Angola going 0-1, in part because Bishop Luers has proven to be a quality team. But there is a school of thought that the Hornets ran out of steam at crucial stretches when Bishop Luers pushed through stronger. Winning is contagious, but everyone had to work a little harder with several girls missing early in the season while still on the volleyball court getting those wins. Are the Hornets 100 percent in basketball game shape?
3. STILL A NEW SERIES
Despite the fact that both of these programs have had success, especially lately, they have one played once in the last 19 seasons with Norwell getting the win last year. In a new series, especially one with two teams who could start to register as powers, you want to establish an early pattern of being the favorite. It is important for both of these programs to get a crucial win the the series and help start this season off strong.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
KAYLEE FUELLING, NORWELL
Her scoring output against Warsaw was big and she’s proven to be the go to early in the season for Knight offense. In the lane, close to the basket, Fuelling is a quality finisher and her ability to keep ahold of the ball to get to that level is important against a handsy Angola group.
ALLY LORNTZ, ANGOLA
Having Lorntz back in the fold helps the Hornets spread the floor more offensively, but may be more important on the defensive end. By now, it is a no brainer to try and keep the ball away from whatever side of the floor Hanna Knoll is defending for the Hornets, but to keep the ball away from both her and Lorntz is impossible. Lorntz drew three steals in the season opener and has flashing quick hands that cause chaos.
BREANN BARGER, NORWELL
With Angola’s biggest players also really being more wing oriented, Barger may have to defend on the perimeter more than she is normally comfortable with. She had three steals against Warsaw, but Barger is stronger when playing down low defensively. She will be expected to guard multiple positions on Saturday.
KAYLA FENSTERMAKER, ANGOLA
The Hornets are going to need rebounders in a bad way. They picked up 28 against Bishop Luers earlier this week, but against Norwell rebounding by committee may not work. Fenstermaker is not a post, but she is scrappy and tough and has a knack for going after the ball. For Angola to compete at Norwell, she will have to make sure to fight off taller girls to obtain possession for the Hornets.
KEYS TO VICTORY – NORWELL
1. GET MAIAH SHELTON IN FORM
Shelton had one of her toughest games in recent memory last Saturday against Warsaw. Because of a midweek postponement, she wasn’t able to bounce back yet from that 3-of-12 shooting game. Norwell is in great shape when Shelton is clicking and she just wasn’t in that one. It is important to get her going early and often.
2. CHRISTEN THE NEW COURT
Sure, it has been there for other sporting events, but Norwell’s new home playing surface will make its basketball debut on Saturday. There may be no ticker tape, but it is still big moment that coach Eric Thornton and his team have to be excited about. Added excitement and enthusiasm is never a bad thing, especially in a home opener.
KEYS TO VICTORY – ANGOLA
1. DON’T FALL ASLEEP
Norwell’s weave, read and drive offense is efficient. But many times in can be efficient because the Knights will run it over and over until they’ve lulled an opponent into too much of a relaxed state. Angola has to protect at the rim and that means staying sharp not matter what Norwell is doing or how much time the Knights take to get what they constitute a quality shot.
2. FORCE TURNOVERS
The Hornets are very good at getting into passing lanes and straight up stealing the ball. Norwell can never get into a rhythm if they don’t have the ball. If Angola can score and quickly get into their press, they can force a lot of turnovers; Norwell had 25 last Saturday in the loss to Warsaw while Angola registered 11 steals in their loss to Bishop Luers with five coming from Hanna Knoll.
There are some early season areas to work for both teams and this could come down to a defensive stalemate as both programs have already proven this season that they can stop points. One team however seems to have a better grasp on the balance of their offense so far. Bounce picks Norwell