This was a monster week of individual performances and that led to some big time wins for area teams against each other and outside the area.
And while there is still a lot of time left for conference races to be decided, the boys too had some clarity and chaos. Norwell’s win over Leo gave some early clarity to the NE8 while Bluffton beating Woodlan gives them the ACAC advantage. In the NECC, Prairie Heights’ first loss of the season and Landen Jordan’s return to Churubusco has made this conference just as tight as it was in the preseason.
• The Snider boys are off to their best start since 2009 and they got there by powering through what was always going to be one of the toughest weeks. They put up 93 points on Tuesday, gunning by New Haven with 29 from Dillon Duff and 24 from Isaac Farnsworth. The night also saw Duff break the 1,000 point mark for his career with his first basket; just the 9th Snider player to ever do so. They then picked up a big conference win on Friday over Northrop (behind Michael Eley‘s 30 points) before finishing the week with a loss, but a fairly competitive one opposite one of the best teams in the state, Lawrence North at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. If there were questions about how Snider would bounce back from a SAC Tournament loss – and there were – they have answered them loudly with a 3-1 mark since the close of 2019.
• People keep asking Bounce if Bishop Luers is the surprise SAC team of the year. The answer is no. I had this feeling that the Knights were going to find major traction under second year coach Fonso White because of the way that he coaches this group up. But that doesn’t make their season less impressive, including this 3-0 week. They beat Marion, Concordia and Hamilton Heights (despite 41 points from Gus Etchison) and now have three legit scorers leading the way. Naylon Thompson and Demarcus Hudson have mostly continued their pace all season, but this was a week for Jalen Causey. The senior scored team highs 20 against Marion and 18 against Concordia before scoring 12 against Hamilton Heights.
• It was the three point game that was the most fruitful for Homestead on Friday. The Spartans hit 10 threes and those game, impressively, from six different guys. Here is an important lesson: when they are on, every single Spartan is dangerous. Quinn Harmon, Luke Goode, Zak Krueger and Patrick Raudenbush all hit two and Raudenbush is boasting one of the best three point shooting percentages in the area right now.
• It was only a matter of time until Treveon Jones hit big and he got it Saturday in a blockbuster win over Marion for South Side. Its fair to say for the Marion faithful that they aren’t the same without Fort Wayne native Jalen Blackmon, now out with a torn ACL for the season. That said, I don’t think it would matter who played defensively if Treveon Jones had an outing like that. Jones has been a pace pusher and athletic fire starter all season, but going 10 of 17 from the field for 30 points in the win was a perfect exclamation point for him.
• Does Qualen Pettus bring out the best in Northrop basketball? Duh. After a solid game on Friday night in a loss to Snider, Pettus put up 30 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday against Kokomo. Whats just as key? Khamani Smith‘s 22 points and seven rebounds in the Kokomo win. Since Pettus returned in the SAC Tournament, the Bruins seem like they are in a different gear.
LEO’S SETBACK MEANS THEY CAN BOUNCE BACK
While Saturday night was a setback in the Lions’ hopes atop the NE8 with a 50-45 loss to Norwell, there is so much good to take out of how Leo is playing right now. Before we get to Saturday, lets talk about Tuesday and a monster 44 point win over Canterbury. This was a fairly even, at times, matchup when they scrimmaged preseason. Not so much on Tuesday. DJ Allen is playing the best basketball of his young high school career and his 19 points, eight rebound effort on Tuesday was part of that.
Allen and Zack Troyer played very strong on Norwell’s Will Geiger on Saturday, forcing him into uncomfortable shots down in the post. The duo are difficult to get by both of and Norwell’s best success in the post game when Troyer was on the bench catching a breath.
What will Leo’s depth be like the rest of the way? Allen and Blake Davison played all 32 minutes on Saturday in the loss to Norwell. Did they have all their steam down the stretch? Andrew Tkacz also played 26 of 32 minutes and Troyer spent over 29 minutes on the floor. Leo is at their strongest when they can stay energized and I look for Carson Hart‘s improving defensive effort to be a big part of that. Leo can go deep down their bench, even if they didn’t do it for long on Saturday. I’m not sure that any other team in their conference can go as deep with as much confidence and it still sets up really interesting matchups the rest of the way. The Lions lost the advantage in the NE8 on Saturday, but they could gain it back quickly.
• Don’t look by East Noble too quickly. They lost this week to Westview and Carroll, but how they lost was impressive. The Knights are feisty and getting more contributions down the line behind Hayden Jones and Nate Dickson. Gage Ernsberger and Chris Hood have added a lot to this team as they get more and more comfortable. They may not be in the conversation at the top of the NE8, but don’t count them out on any given night. They did pick up a good NE8 win over Huntington North on Friday night.
• While there is credit going to Leo and especially to Norwell this weekend, this is still very much a race that New Haven has the angle on winning. The Bulldogs, out on the break, running and gunning, are dangerous. Even though Snider was able to beat them at that game Tuesday, who else can keep that pace? Donovynn Lewis scored 32 points in that fast game with Snider and the Bulldogs continued to be loaded with weapons.
• Keep Bluffton in mind when talking about who could win this conference. In fact, keep them at the forefront. Lets face it, this team wasn’t expected to be the best in this conference but when you have Chris Benedict on the sidelines, you aren’t going to be able to ever count Bluffton out. After taking a very good Central Noble to overtime earlier in the week, they made a major statement against a lost Woodlan team on Saturday night. They are now the team to beat in the ACAC.
A DIFFERENT CHURUBUSCO
I have watched Churubusco in person twice this year now. I feel like I was watching two wildly different teams. One lost to Prairie Heights, kind of got exposed along the way. The other beat Woodlan on Wednesday this week, and looked like world beaters.
Differing factor? Landen Jordan. The junior made his season debut against Woodlan and went ahead to put up 23 points, grab 12 rebounds, swat away a handful of shots and dunk and dunk and dunk again. Adding him was always going to add to Churubusco overall. But this team looks so much looser, smooth and confident with Jordan patrolling the post. Hunter Perlich scored 21 on Wednesday, proving that – just as we thought – the duo of Perlich and Jordan in the post is going to be a lot for any team to handle. This is not a post heavy season and having two of such a high caliber is huge. Jordan had 25 points and 15 rebounds Friday in a win over Fremont.
And then there is Jackson Paul. He has always been a pace setter and now can be a bigger facilitator. He had 10 assists (and 15 points) against Woodlan and really mastered the flow of the game with a big chase down block on Aiden Bayman. On Friday, he added nine more assists to his 23 points. Paul and Jordan play off each other so well that he is playing the best basketball, possibly of his career, this week. That is huge and at a huge time.
It also helps in games, like against Woodlan, when the depth of the Eagles comes into play. Luke McClure, Gage Kelly and Tim Knepple all hit shots and made this a tough team to spread out to cover. McClure then scored 18 points on Friday in the Fremont game. Just wait until Noah Wolfe comes back.
• Charlie Yoder is now the best scorer in the history of Westview boys basketball. It took 46 years for someone to pass Gary Yoder as the school’s all time leading scorer, but Charlie did just that on Friday night despite even seeing an early quadruple team from Hamilton. Yoder had 55 points and 28 rebounds in two Westview wins this week and now sits alone in that Westview scoring column, soon to do the same in history of LaGrange County. Charlie tied Gary on Tuesday against East Noble with 1,711 career points before passing him against Hamilton. In the Hamilton win, Yoder tied Gaylene Scott for second in the County history in scoring with 1,739 points; just 36 from tying first place. Could Yoder become one of the best scorers in the history of the state? #25 on that list, Pike’s Chris Thomas, sits at 2,156 and within reach of Yoder.
• John Bodey is now third all time in wins as a coach for Central Noble. He tied the mark on Wednesday in a win over Bluffton. Bodey also has the best winning percentage in the history of the program.
• Can you say anything other than wow about Angola? The Hornets handed Prairie Heights their first loss of the season on Friday. It was the end of the run by the area’s last unbeaten and a team that had really asserted that they were the NECC team to beat. But its not just that they did it, but how they did it. The Panthers have three of the conference’s toughest scorers, but Angola held them to just seven second half points. Prairie Heights led Angola 21-6 at the half but in the end, the Hornets were 33-28 winners. That has to scare some teams going into next week.
• This week, the Benton Bucks home school team celebrated senior Jake Lock for recently reaching 3,000 career points. That its a monster number of points for a four year career no matter where you play or what level you play on. You go try and score 3,000 points.
• Blackhawk Christian will be part of Basketball Day in Indiana this season. It was announced this week that the day, centered at Kokomo High School on February 8, will include the Braves facing off against Crispus Attucks that day at 2:30. The game will also air on Fox Sports Indiana.
Also, if you don’t follow my Twitter feed (and how dare you?), Blackhawk Christian Coach Marc Davidson won the week with his blazer on Tuesday in a win over Adams Central. When Marc is on his game, he’s the best dressed coach in Northeast Indiana. Dare you to tell him differently.
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: FAN VOTE: Boys hoops Performance of the Week for Jan. 6-11
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