Welcome to 2020 and a whole new set of games to be played. The most exciting part of January is still to come with the ACAC and NECC Tournaments going head to head soon. But this week, I am back with just one single column again as there weren’t tons of games on the schedule.
What we did see was Norwell boys take their first loss, some quality road tests and few single day tournaments and shootouts from Thursday to Saturday, including…
THE MARION CLASSIC
If you missed it, I spent most of my day on Saturday in Marion for the annual event. You can read my instant reactions there. But here are a couple of important things from each local game.
• Why Snider’s win was important: The Panthers beat Zionsville after back to back years of close Marion Classic games for coach Jeremy Rauch without a win. So breaking through in the Classic is a nice moment for this same group. But more importantly is getting a quality win off the back end of losing in the SAC Tournament finals. We needed to know if Snider remained a contender or if they’d backslide after the SAC Tournament. They didn’t look great against Zionsville, they shot the ball kind of poorly (5/25 three point, 34.1% total FG), but they got the win. Dillon Duff (pictured) didn’t have his best game, but he rebounded well and hit a HUGE go ahead triple late. And a win is momentum for a tough week ahead with New Haven, Northrop and Lawrence North on the schedule.
• Why Bishop Dwenger’s game was important: The Saints showed fight in a game they looked to be far out of early as they eventually lost to Brebeuf Jesuit. The foul calls were…questionable…and that cost the Saints a lot, but they still fought. I am really loving Hunter Burns‘ fight right now, we saw upped aggression from Ben Schreck and Tobe Eke and C.J. Pieper stepping up higher as a scorer is great for the Saints’ future, this season and beyond.
• Why North Side’s game was important: Losing to Richmond isn’t bad per say and it was kind of a poignant victory for former Legend coach Shabaz Khaliq. But the outing showed that Isaiah Moore can be a big scorer (27 points) against a team with really solid guard play. The Legends shot 51.6 percent from the field in the second half and freshman Jordan Green is looking comfortable and competent on the interior after looking somewhat detached in early games.
• Why South Side’s game was important: It is only going to benefit the Archers going forward if they can change pace better than their usual go, go, go method. With Ashton Johnson running point guard in the absence of Austin Jordan, they can do that because Johnson just doesn’t have Jordan’s speed. At his own pace, Johnson is a steady hand that the Archers can work behind. There was a lack of energy from the Archers on Saturday, but if they can have energy and still have a slow pace, that can help them against teams they can’t run with.
• Homestead picked up a nice win on the girls side in a school split at North Central on Friday. While the boys ended up losing to the Panthers, there was no way the girls were going to lose with Rylie Parker‘s effort. She was lights out from behind the arc and a closer at the free throw line. Parker ended up setting a career high with 27 points in a 62-50 win that means a lot on the road on Friday night in Indianapolis.
• The South Side girls stayed busy with three games between Friday and Saturday. Olivia Smith, nursing a calf injury, was limited to just one of the Friday games in limited minutes. The Archers fell to LaPorte on Friday but beat a rising Columbia City team. On Saturday, the Archers hosted a very good Fishers team and fell after a flat third quarter, giving them losses in three of their last four games of a very tough schedule. South was led Saturday by Jaci Jones‘ 17 points. Throughout the week, Alaya Chapman looked like a real serious post presence and a balanced South Side is a tough to beat South Side.
• Have the inexperienced East Noble Knight boys turned a corner? They got a really nice win on Friday by topping Northridge despite giving up seven three pointers in just the first half. Those threes got East Noble down 24-10 at one point but they fought back, showing grit and enhanced experience in their fifth game of the year. Hayden Jones scored 22 points and Nate Dickson had 20 in the 68-58 win.
They turned around and grabbed another win on Saturday over Concord, but this was more notable for an individual reason. Jones broke the school’s 45 year old assist record in the first half. By doing so, Jones passed Dennis Smith’s 411 career assist mark that was set in 1975. Jones gets a lot of credit for filling a lot of roles on the basketball court, but he really has made himself one of the area’s top passers in a long time and this is a great mark for him.
• Norwell‘s boys went 1-1 at the Mishawaka Marian Tournament Thursday, losing their first game of the year but bouncing back to beat South Side without Will Geiger in the second game. Geiger hurt his hand late in the Mishawaka Marian game, but the status of that hand and the length of time he may be out are unknown. It was freshman Luke McBride who stepped up in the South Side game, knocking down five triples for the late win.
• Is there anyone you can rely on to score 20-25 points per game more consistently than Columbia City‘s Mitchell Wilson? 24 on Friday, 25 on Saturday and as we head into the peak of boys basketball season, he has to be considered one of the very toughest scorers to defend.
• Taylor Double is going to mean a lot to Huntington North girls basketball for a long time. The Vikings have had a massive turnaround immediately in year one under coach Matt Hinds. Their 12 wins is their best mark in three years and they have now won seven straight including this weekend’s Warsaw Invitational where Double was named the tournament’s MVP while Reece Colclesser was named to the All-Tournament team. The Vikings are clicking so well now and there is still probably room to grow; that has to be exciting.
• Help for Woodlan? The Warrior ladies didn’t need a lot of it with a share of the conference already in hand. But Adams Central, who at their peak are so tough, got a massive win in the ACAC and Adams County on Saturday over South Adams. It handed the Starfires their second ACAC loss and took them out of share of title contention. With seven different scorers, Adams Central looked tough in the win with an aggressive 24-5 first half against South Adams. McKenna Dietsch led the way with 13 points for the Flying Jets.
• The Garrett girls made the most of their Hoosier Gym moment on Saturday. At the famed facility, they ran over Leo 70-36 behind 20 points from Bailey Kelham, 13 each from Morgan Ostrowski and Faith Owen and 10 from Nataley Armstrong, who also racked up 11 assists.
• Staying with Garrett, we don’t talk much about the boys as they try rebuilding their program but they played well on Friday in the consolation game of the Wawasee Tournament. Jayden Broadnax is developing into a consistent scoring threat for the Railroaders, leading the game with 24 points despite a 57-49 loss to Lakewood Park.
• Central Noble’s win over DeKalb on the boys side Friday night was their first win over the Barons since 1971. In other words, it has been a while. Their 6-2 start is the best Central Noble boys start since 1998. Connor Essegian scored 25 and Sawyer Yoder added 18 in the Cougar victory.
• The Prairie Heights boys are now 10-0, tied for the 8th longest unbeaten start in NECC history. The best start? Westview’s 16 games in 2010-2011.
• Canterbury went 1-1 on Friday in the Cougar Classic, but got some steady scoring from Noah Drapala and noteworthy efforts from a handful of others which helps the Cavalier depth. In a 76-50 win over Lakeland Christian, Drapala’s 26 led the way but three more double digit scoring efforts were huge. Maybe none more so than Jack Royster‘s 15 point, eight rebound effort that will be big for his mentality and the Cavaliers’ inside-out potential.
• The Blackhawk Christian girls got a nice win on Saturday, closing out strong against Prairie Heights in overtime. The Braves scored the only 6 points in the extra session for the 39-33 win.
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 these links:
These opinions represent those of Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH