How many area teams remaining perfect on the girls side? Officially none with Homestead’s out of state loss on Saturday.
What do we have? More intrigue than expected in one of the conference races. While the SAC and NECC look close to sewed up before the holidays and the ACAC is close behind, upsets in the NE8 mean things are looking quite crazy.
Here are more random thoughts from the girls side:
• The Bruins of Northrop avoided an upset Wednesday with a monster overtime effort. The Bruins need some big wins, but the big numbers they put up Wednesday have to be somewhat of a strong area to build off. Destiny Jackson has been one of the area’s best rebounders (she had 14 on Wednesday) and there are at least four girls on this team that could score major points like TiAuna White‘s 29 in that Wednesday overtime win or the 22 she scored in a close loss to Bishop Luers on Friday.
• We weren’t naive enough to think again that a strong SAC team had any chance on Friday against Homestead. No knock on anyone else at this point, the Spartans are just too good, especially when people are hitting from deep. Rylie Parker‘s six of eight shooting from deep was a clinic all of its own but Homestead’s defense was stellar, holding the Saints to just 15 points in the game. The Spartans did lose on Saturday to Notre Dame Academy (OH), their first loss of the season.
• Carroll coach Mark Redding notched his 300th career win on Friday night in a 49-31 win against Concordia. Redding has spent 25 seasons on the sidelines to rack up that mark. He is the 27th winningest active coach in the state of Indiana and the fifth in the area.
SOUTH SIDE GIRLS
The Archers became the unsurprising first team to win a Reichert-Hey Memorial Trophy on Friday when they beat de facto rival North Side by shooting 55.6 percent from the field. Yet, that game didn’t matter. Not like Saturday’s win did.
The Archers have been looking to compete on a different level come the post season and that is why they have such an adventurous schedule and, therefore, have had some really close games to sit at 6-2. Among those out of area games have been some tough ones that maybe the Archers should have won. But beating Heritage Christian 55-51 on Saturday was big in closing one of those games out. Alaya Chapman had a 12 point, 12 rebound performance while Jaci Jones also scored 12 and LaMyia Woodson scored 10.
Because they aren’t playing a ton of games against non-conference area teams right now, South Side may get a little overlooked, even by me. But let me assure you, this is a team that is preparing themselves well for the beef of the SAC schedule, the forthcoming Holiday Tournament where they are likely to be the three seed and for the games ahead in February.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF EAST NOBLE
The struggles of East Noble came to a, brief at least, end on Monday with a win the county showdown with Central Noble. The two teams hadn’t played since the 2013-2014 season and East Noble had won the last two meetings although the Cougars were the heavy favorite this year. Important note: throw it all out when you talk rivalry. East Noble led after every quarter to come away with the upset win. Avan Beiswanger scored 10 points in the win.
And then Wednesday, the Knights pushed Northrop to overtime in a game that was just presumed to be a blowout. Although East Noble fell in this one, they certainly added a level of interest into what their growth will be the rest of the year.
What makes it all more interesting? A win on Friday against Bellmont, a perennial conference kingpin. Karly Kirkpatrick and Carly Turner each had eight points in that one. There isn’t big, flashy scoring but the Knights are getting the job done. It pushed East Noble to a co-conference lead, somewhere that nobody had them projected to be at, even two games into the seven game conference schedule. After winning just four games last year, East Noble is now 5-6 and winners of three of their last four games.
• Lets talk about Bellmont again this week because they are showing flashes that they have their feet under them finally. An 11 point win at Bishop Luers is a great win for this program and Kenzie McMahon helped fuel it with a strong, physical effort while Morgan Shifferly is become a quality asset on both ends of the floor. Yes, they closed the week with a tough conference loss to East Noble, but the Squaws will want to take a lot of positives out of this week too.
• A lot of credit to Columbia City for proving me wrong and winning this week’s Game of the Weekend against our #2 team, Norwell. The Eagles have seized control of the Northeast 8 with their first win over Norwell since 2005. This is a tough team, which we knew in the preseason but we were waiting for them to prove some things. Consider Friday a MAJOR step in the right direction. The Eagles out rebounded Norwell 39-17 with nine each from Brayden Lickey and Madison Woodward. Controlling the inside allowed Hayley Urban and Carly Mabie to take control offensively, with 11 and 10 points respectively.
• I am continually impressed by Huntington North‘s improvement. Saturday, they didn’t get a big conference win like some NE8 teams did Friday but beating defending regional champion Marion is major in a lot of ways. The Giants are no joke and RaShaya Kyle is tough to slow down. Huntington North limited Giant players not named Kyle to exactly zero points in the first half and just nine points in the game to win 32-28 behind 13 points from Taylor Double and 10 from Reece Colclesser.
• On Monday, the draw for the annual ACAC tournament happened. First round matchups on Tuesday, January 14 include Heritage at Adams Central, Jay County at Woodlan and South Adams at Bluffton. The girls games begin at 6 with boys playing after. The tournament continues on Friday, January 17 and conclude January 18 with championship games played at South Adams.
• Bluffton is struggling to pick up wins and there is no doubt it that, but the Tigers are still going to have a chance in the ACAC Tournament and come the postseason. Best news for those hopes: Zoe Barger‘s monster game in a loss to Wabash on Tuesday. Bluffton fell short by two points, but Barger put in 22, more than half of the Tigers’ points; she added 18 rebounds and four blocks in the loss. She followed it up with 23 points and 14 rebounds on Friday in a loss to Woodlan. Big play like that from a presence in the paint could go a long way as the season progresses, especially for a team that needs big scoring to try and three peat come Sectional time. I respect Bluffton coach Karl Grau a ton and he was high on Barger this week for good reason; the Tigers may have gone 0-2 but its tough to say that anyone had as good of a week as Barger.
• Addison Bayman joined the 1,000 point club on Friday as Woodlan solidified their ACAC lead more with a 58-47 win over Bluffton. Bayman scored 20 points in the win and has really continued to prove her exciting worth as the conference’s top player, at least in my humble opinion.
YOUTH SHOWCASED AS EASTSIDE BEATS BUSCO
Eastside continued their phenomenal start beating Churubusco on Tuesday night. Most impressive in this game was that these two teams, which looked pretty even in the first half, are so young. The NECC is shaping up to be a conference full of talent and while this year looks clearly like Angola’s, there is a future for both of these programs under new head coaches that looked far more bleak a season ago. Sullivan and Sky Kessler are a good court reading guard duo for Eastside. The junior and sophomore duo can shoot and move their team around the court with them. With junior Ally King so tough to defend and rebound against when she plays right at the rim, it is a great inside and out feature.
Busco playing with Eastside early has to be something that coach Kellene Pepple has to be happy with. She has a strong leader in junior Mariah Hosted who plays with fire in her eyes. Junior Audrey Huelsenbeck plays far longer than her 5-foot-8 frame around the rim and can step out with confidence shooting the ball. Churubusco has just one senior and while Myah Bear helps them all over the court with her experiences, this team has battled to get to 4-6 on the season and there can be some strong NECC success in their future.
Eastside rose at the end of Tuesday’s game, but the first half showcased a matchup that we get to look forward to for years to come with just three total seniors on the court. And yes, plenty of praise to Mackensie Rieke, Paige Graber and Myah Bear for setting the tempo for their programs; it is because of them that we have that future. It was well played, evenly paced high school basketball.
• Despite Carroll’s strong showing on Wednesday, Warsaw has made the move to right their ship with another major non conference win in the area. Brielle Harrison scored 17 in the 56-54 win while sophomore Kacilyn Krebs added 15. This is another major statement for a team that has struggled against some really top notch competition while also being one of the area teams struggling with player health.
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. 9-14
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