Another week where the ladies take center stage all alone. And there was some fun, fun basketball to be played. But I won’t bore you with my little details here, instead lets just jump right into it, shall we?
DEFENSE DAMAGES, BUT SPEED DOMINATES
On Saturday night, Bounce took in our Game of the Weekend and were we ever spot on with this one. Norwell and Angola slugged it out inside The Castle and the game had so many quality ebbs and flows.
Despite an early advantage for Norwell, Angola’s defensive pressure took over midway through the first and the Hornets ran with that through the first half. In the full court, Angola looked very good and they created a lot of havoc, even for an advanced line of guards like Norwell has. The Hornets spread the floor with Hanna Knoll, Lauren Leach, Kayla Fenstermaker, Maizey Strand, Ally Lorntz, Megan Nisun and Janna Fee and they all pulled their weight defensively. That and Knoll’s master class shooting (5-of-6 from three point range) in the first half made it seem like the Hornets had the right ingredients. Knoll did finish the game with a career high 31 points, so that shouldn’t get lost in the conversation.
But Norwell was just better when it mattered most. No knock on Angola; this is week 2. Maiah Shelton, who struggled a little bit to start the season and start this game, played freely and that is a danger for anyone on the other side of the court. The speed of Norwell took its toll on Angola, the press no longer being much of an option in the second half. Kaylee Fuelling in the open floor was impressive; she has so much more speed than practically anyone in the area. And kudos to the inside work of Hailey Henschen and Grace Bradtmueller, who made important plays at the rim on both ends of the floor in the second half, drawing contact, hitting free throws and even a big charge taken by Bradtmueller.
“A lot of emotions coming off of that game. At halftime, we really needed to get some composure back,” said Norwell coach Eric Thornton. “We were very fragmented in that second quarter. Effort was the thing we talked about at halftime. I think our kids stepped up the effort level, but also just playing with a purpose.”
This was just a really fun basketball game, with a lot of speed, a lot of tenacity and a lot of high level players making important plays. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all to see this one run back in the postseason.
• A standout that won’t get recognized as much by others from Concordia Lutheran‘s win Tuesday over Bellmont was the defensive footwork and intensity of LonDynn Betts. She had great lateral movement, stayed in a fundamental defensive stance and loots to be a great option for a Cadet team defensively when they need a guard matchup to tilt in their favor. Betts got great positioning to cut off even great offensive players like the Squaws’ Meghan Busick.
If you want to read my thoughts on the rest of that Tuesday game, you can take a look back at my column from Tuesday night here.
As for Concordia as a whole, their wins this week over two OTH Top 10 teams in Bellmont and Northrop make me think that perhaps I have underestimated the Cadets in the wake of Carissa Garcia’s graduation. I’m a big enough amphibian to admit where I am wrong and I look wrong here.
• Good news for those who saw Homestead‘s Ayanna Patterson go down in Thursday’s win over Northridge. Straight from her father on Friday: there is no structural damage to her leg. While not diagnosed fully as such, it is likely a Grade 1 sprain. Scary moment for the young lady who had already scored 11 points in the game. There is no timetable for Patterson’s return but lets be real, teams are judged by February and March so don’t expect to see her rush back.
• 3-0 is a good place to be for any team under all new leadership. Bishop Dwenger got there under new coach Steve Wiktorowski. A good measuring stick will be this weeks game with Bellmont but for now, this is a huge start for the Saints.
• Northridge is probably done with the SAC after being beaten by both Homestead and South Side this week. Saturday’s game was a big win for the Archers at Northridge that they needed as a bounce back game. It strengthens their confidence, especially in the guard play. With 3.2 seconds left, Olivia Smith drained a three off a feed from Jaci Jones and just like that, the Archers were winners. Important win as early season wins go.
• When DeKalb coach Brett Eltzroth said his team was going to play faster this year, he meant it and if finally paid off in game three with a huge win over North Side on Tuesday. The highlight: 23 steals for the Barons including five each from a pair of freshmen in Lillie Cone and Maddie Hickman, while a third freshman Elizabeth Martin had four swipes. Paige Pettis posted a double double of 12 points and 13 rebounds, adding 3 steals in that North Side game too. Protect the ball ladies, DeKalb is coming for it. Cone had another three steals Friday against Angola. The season record sits at 1-3 for DeKalb but these little wins show growth.
• Not a bad start at all for Huntington North under first year coach Matt Hinds. The Vikings kicked off the season with wins over a pair of SAC teams in Snider and North Side, putting them almost a third of the way to last year’s win total of 7. While the win over Snider was a more quality win (they did however hold North Side to just two points), the Vikings have been balanced. Eight players scored against Snider and 10 players scored against North Side. On Saturday, they added a third win behind 18 points from Leah Campbell, who hit five threes in the win over Southwood.
• After a disappointing opening game of the season, Woodlan has to be thrilled with Friday’s win over Bellmont, a top contender in the Northeast 8. The Warriors went balanced, led by 11 points from Gabby Joyce. But defensively, they held Bellmont to just four made field goals through the game and only allowed three points for Squaw leading scorer Meghan Busick. The win is big for Woodlan, immediately erasing the demons of that first loss to Garrett and righting the momentum ship.
• Good win for South Adams to open their season. They need some new scoring options and Peyton Pries (18 points) and Kristen Wynn (13 points) gave them that Saturday against Blackford.
“Tonight we got off to a quick start. Our defensive pressure caused them some issues,” South Adams coach Brett Freeman told the media after the game. “For our first game, I was pleased.”
• Angola met the same fate Tuesday as conference foe Central Noble did to start the year: an opening game loss at Bishop Luers. Like I said last week, the Knights are good but that doesn’t mean that Angola is bad. Perhaps a little rusty still from volleyball season, the Hornets still managed to put three girls in double figures, including a high of 14 points from one of those volleyball girls, Kayla Fenstermaker, and a trip of triples from Lauren Leach. They, like many other top teams, were able to bounce back from a quick loss this season by beating DeKalb on Friday night and looking more back on form even in Saturday’s loss to Norwell.
• A pair of teams who haven’t been at the forefront in recent seasons that have to be happy with where they are at are Churubusco and Eastside. The Eagles improved to 2-0 on Saturday with a win over Whitko and Mariah Hosted has had a pair of quality games with a double double against Lakewood Park and then 13 points and 8 steals in that Whitko game.
Eastside is off to a 3-0 start under new coach Mike Lortie for just the second time in the last 20 seasons. It also puts them at the midway point to meet last year’s win total of 6. MacKenzie Rieke has established herself as a tough shooter for his group and helping them a lot in their wins.
As always, make sure you vote in this week’s Performance of the Week FAN VOTE. Remember, this doesn’t reflect a body of work as much as the best single game performance. Voting is open through Tuesday here: FAN VOTE: Girls hoops Performance of the Week for Nov. 11-16
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