Outside the Huddle keeps their eyes on several area teams outside of the four major conferences. While yours truly can’t exactly predict an order of finish like I can in those conferences, I can give you a handful of teams and players in the area to keep an eye on.
You are welcome.
TEAMS TO WATCH
Blackhawk Christian may not be in Class 1A anymore, but the majority of their schedule doesn’t change; they always played at a higher level. Now they will focus on getting better for what could be Class 2A’s best Regional if not the best Regional in the state. Caleb Furst is arguably the area’s best player and teams are going to have major problems matching up with him.
Lakewood Park showed some strong signs of a rebuild a year ago and what helps will be having a head coach for a second straight year after Steve Oberlin was their fourth head coach in as many years last season. Josh Pike and Caedmon Bontrager can be big playmakers for them (more on that soon), but Bounce is really interested in what kind of growth may see from Aiden Fetters because of what that name has meant to this program.
Canterbury will see a new head coach take over but the return of Will Shank is critical for them to have a successful year. The junior has become a big time scorer that can score all around the court. Noah Drapala is a really good shooter that can get hot in a flash. Holiday Stephenson and Chris Diwis return to round out the top four returning scorers from a season ago. A big help is some changes in their schedule that won’t have them playing as many tough games that were scheduled for more experienced teams of the past.
Whitko has to replace Spencer Sroufe and that is a big ask. But Brett Sickafoose has proven to be a gritty defender and clutch shooter that will lead them this season. Drake Lewis and Clayton Ebbinghouse also return. This is a team that beat Columbia City, Prairie Heights and Central Noble last year; they are going to be a threat most nights as long as they find a semi-significant replacement for Sroufe.
Blackhawk Christian isn’t going to be featured because you are going to read it so many other places in our preview, unlike with most of the other area teams. They have impact players. Caleb Furst, Zane Burke, they are all good. Read about them elsewhere.
Will Shank of Canterbury (Top 50 Boys Hoops #21) is one of the toughest guards in the area. He develops so much each summer under the tutelage of Chase Sanders and Total Package Elite. When Shank plays poised, he will make big plays.
Caedmon Bontrager of Lakewood Park (Top 50 Boys Hoops #33) is really starting to use his long frame to make impacts. He too looked good over the summer playing for Spiece Indy Heat alongside fellow area bigs Joe Reidy and DJ Allen. Bontrager is going to continue to draw a lot of attention as he gets better at the rim offensively. Defensively, he is a stopper and will continue to prove that every night.
Josh Pike of Lakewood Park is a great leader for the Panthers who is vocal at times but certainly leads by example. Pike has a great motor and can play at a lot of different paces. Watch for him to be more a tempo setter himself this season.
Weston Hamby of Manchester (Top 50 Boys Hoops #29) has two great weapons in his shooting and his passing prowess. During the high school season, his scoring is on full display and he has made a point of getting better off the dribble.
PLAYER ON THE RISE
Holidey Stephenson of Canterbury may play point guard for the Cavaliers, time will tell. He seems to have a really good court vision and showed signs this summer that he can be a quality distributor to the many Cavalier scoring options.
Thane Creager of Manchester is a long and rangy defender. He will have to be the Squires’ number two scoring option again, but defensively is where he will really stand out. He gives the ability, with some length, to defend most positions on the floor and Manchester can be a contender if he is versatile.
Blake Marsh of Warsaw is a highly intelligent ball handler. His poise and confidence will be big in getting the Tigers going, even on nights when they will struggle with the kickstart. Marsh could be a scorer when needed but I think he will benefit from being a producer in other areas first.
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