I made a promise and here I am to keep it. Two completely different Sunday columns and here is the first one, focusing on girls basketball during this past week.
Did we get some conference clarity? Each of the big four conferences is down to one, two or three teams with flawless conference records. Oddly enough, it is the biggest conference team wise, the NECC, that has just one team unbeaten in conference play.
So what else can you take out of this week?
• 13. That is the total number of scorers that Carroll had in a win over DeKalb on Tuesday, led by Emily Parrett‘s 18 points. They had eight scorers on Saturday in a win over Northridge. Forget for a second what anyone else in the SAC is doing, Mark Redding‘s bench had the potential to be so wildly deep come the postseason because he is willing to get them going in December.
• For the first time since 2015, the Wayne Generals have won two of their first eight games. They picked up that win on Wednesday behind just 23 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks from Shabrea O’Quinn and a 12 and 12 double double from Shiara Alexander in their win over New Haven. It isn’t world breaking, but every step is a critical one as coach Lacia Gorman rebuild this program. And every win will make this team believe a little bit more.
• Was their clarity in the middle of the SAC on Friday? Northrop and Bishop Dwenger was a fantastic duel but the Bruins edged the Saints out in overtime. Part of that was the 25 point, four steal Amanda Thatcher performance. Part of it was the 22 point, four steal TiAuna White performance. And part of it was one of those do-it-all Destiny Jackson games we’ve come to love. She had nine points, six assists, five steals, three blocks and 15 rebounds in the win; that is a stat line worth bragging about.
• An emotional weekend for the Homestead girls saw them stay unbeaten with a perhaps surprisingly dominant 67-29 win over Carroll and then a Saturday victory over Noblesville. Ayanna Patterson‘s return to the court looked pretty seamless on Friday with 25 points while Sydney Graber put up 23 to keep her consistently high pace. The next few weeks will be different for the Spartans, but on the court they are showing why they are still the best in this area.
• Bellmont is bouncing back from a tough start with more balance than we expected them to have this early. All eyes have been on Kenzie McMahon and Meghan Busick but Tuesday, the Squaws topped Mississinewa by getting scoring from all eight players who took the court. Morgan Shifferly added seven behind Busick and McMahon. A day later, they got scoring seven different players, led by Kayla Heckman‘s nine in an upset win over Garrett. All of the sudden, we are talking about Bellmont again because of this balance.
• Norwell continues to finish off close games. So where does that put them? High because they get wins or in limbo because maybe they should have outplayed Huntington North more on Friday? The Vikings are much improved so playing with the Knights, down just two after three quarters may say more about Huntington North. Again, it was Maiah Shelton‘s gritty performance leading Norwell with Kaylee Fuelling playing strong too. If those two are on their game, Norwell stays one of the area’s best.
• Adams Central coach Doug Curtis warned me in the preseason that when the one-two punch of McKenna Dietsch and Carley Holley hit their stride in the same night, the Flying Jets were going to be scary good. Tuesday was that day when the Jets turned their quiet 4-1 start into a loud 5-1 placement. Holley scored 31 and Dietsch added 20 in the win over Churubusco and Adams Central says brashly that they are a contender in the ACAC even with their lopsided loss to Woodlan later in the week.
• Traditional ACAC power Jay County may not be bookmarked for that spot this year, but Renna Schweiterman had herself a week, scoring 21 points for three consecutive games. The Patriots went 2-1 during that time, but having a high output scorer like that is crucial for them.
• When you talk about jockeying for conference positioning, South Adams had a lot to say this weekend. Their win over Heritage on Friday night while putting four different girls in double figures scoring, may be their biggest win of the year. They had a major fourth quarter and are sitting at 7-2 overall as one of just two unbeatens in the conference. That late, January 25 game against Woodlan is looking important as of now.
• When you measure some of the more important program wins so far this season, you have to put Eastside‘s 42-37 win over Woodlan on Tuesday right up there. The same day that yours truly added Woodlan to his top 10 countdown, the Blazers were able to secure a really nice win. First year coach Mike Lortie has done a great job so far with Eastside and Allyson King and MacKensie Rieke are both scoring well in enhanced roles. That played even bigger on Saturday in a 36-35 in overtime against Garrett, going ahead for good in the final minute. Early in December and Eastside has already matched their win total from a season ago at six.
• Things couldn’t have snowballed out of Central Noble‘s hands worse on Friday night after a solid opening quarter. The host Cougars put a nice scare into Angola early and even led 18-13 at the half, impressively holding the Hornets scoring down. Then, the Cougars themselves were held scoreless in the third and quickly found themselves down 30-18. Hanna Knoll led Angola with 11 points in the eventual Hornet win and the range of emotions of the game leaves the Hornets in the drivers seat in the NECC already.
The popcorn machine did set off the fire alarm in the fourth quarter. So there was some added intrigue there. Hope my pal Brice Vance of KPC made it through safe, he loves himself some Albion popcorn.
• Kudos to Canterbury. The Cavalier girls beat Whitko on Tuesday for their first win of the season and first win since February 2, 2018 after not picking up a single win last season. Also the first career win for coach Tira Brown.
LAKEWOOD’S FUTURE COULD REFLECT PAST
The Panthers put together a solid outing on Thursday visiting a struggling Leo. They are now 5-4 and their schedule isn’t going to lend to any more consistency in their opponents. Yet, if they can push their own consistency, as they did in long stretch of the win over Leo, they will be in good shape and significantly prepared come playoff time. There are just five Class 1A teams on the Panthers schedule and their tests in December could be important come February.
Chloe Jolloff had a game high 22 points on Thursday and is, unsurprisingly, the benchmark at Lakewood Park. She has been since her freshman year and now a junior, she is certainly in the leading role. Could this team mirror her freshman season be it this season or next? That first year for Jolloff, which the Panthers won a Sectional title, saw an upperclass with a lot of experience and then the high talent of Jolloff showing off. Now, the Panthers have two juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen. There is a lot of growing experience in the mix. Does that mean they can end up trending closer to the 17-6 title group than last season’s 8-13 group? At this same point last year, they were 5-6.
Taylor Gerke (main image), who had 15 points on Tuesday, is an aggressive presence that can play inside and out and a pair of sophomores in Frannie Talarico and Sophie Burris certainly showed flashes on Thursday of a willingness to take big shots and get after the ball defensively.
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 at this link: FAN VOTE: Girls hoops Performance of the Week for Dec. 2-7
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