When you have one team 8-0 in a ten game conference schedule, is there much doubt in to who should win the NECC Tournament?
The matchups along the way though are going to be fun, because while Angola has already clinched a share of the conference crown and will likely win it outright, there are some teams they have already beaten who are going to be chomping at the bit to get a rematch.
See a complete bracket, with Bounce’s predictions, at the bottom of this article.
ANGOLA (14-2, 8-0 NECC)
It has been nearly two months to the day since Angola last lost a game. Run either of their two losses back now and they’d have a really good chance to win those games. How does Angola win this tournament? More like, how do they not win it? It would take a monumental collapse, this team is well coached, well trained and execute even better. Hanna Knoll and Lauren Leach are the conference’s best duo and there are a lot of other great contributions down the line. Ally Lorntz has been playing very comfortable basketball lately and there are probably just too many Hornets playing well.
Potential Tournament Star: You can probably take potential out of this. Hanna Knoll is the star of the area, let alone this conference or tournament. She is steadily the best two-way player each night. Her offense is great, her defense is probably more important.
GARRETT (12-4, 4-3 NECC)
You could name several teams here, but the Railroaders have a lot to prove after losses to Angola, Fairfield and Eastside. They have as much top player depth as anyone in the conference and we may not have seen them hit on all cylinders in a single game yet. If we do, with Morgan Ostrowski’s inside game, Nataley Armstrong’s court vision, Faith Owen’s underrated offensive explosiveness and Bailey Kelham’s all around game, this team could be the one to upset Angola.
Potential Tournament Star: Plenty of options here, but lets go with Ostrowski for what she can do at the rim. She has length to change shots and has the capability to rebound with and above anyone in the area.
EASTSIDE (13-3, 4-3 NECC)
The Blazer have made an amazing season but have had a couple letdowns including losing to Fairfield in their most recent game. Eastside probably doesn’t need to do anything different than they have to be a tournament contender. That said, they do need to stay out of foul trouble to remain viable.
Potential Tournament Star: Just like with Garrett, Eastside could make an impact at the rim. Ally King has the aggression and intelligence at the rim to be a difference maker if Eastside wants an Angola rematch and a run at the title.
CENTRAL NOBLE (9-6, 5-2 ACAC)
Defensive effort is going to lead Central Noble if they hope to defend their title. The scoring drop-off from last season doesn’t feel as big with how Bridgette Gray has stepped up and newcomers like Madi Vice and Meghan Kiebel have quickly become big names for the Cougars. They don’t want to get into a scoring duel with the top teams, but if they can get consistent stops defensively, they could make some waves.
Potential Tournament Star: Bridgette Gray has the inside track on this because she has been here and seen this all twice (although, CN went to just one title game in her career). Gray knows what it takes to win out this tough week and has the aggression and two-way chops to back it up.
FAIRFIELD (9-7, 4-3 NECC)
The Falcons are getting quality wins despite being in the middle of the conference offensively and still being awfully young. Their back to back wins over Garrett and Eastside gives them momentum for days and they will get a bye with no Hamilton on the girls side. Fairfield has every reason to be among the most confident teams playing in this tournament.
Potential Tournament Star: Brea Garber was the most instrumental player in those Garrett/Eastside wins. She doesn’t have the tournament experience you’d want out of a potential star, but her lack of experience really hasn’t slowed her down yet either.
LAKELAND (11-7, 5-3 NECC)
A loss to Angola is the Lakers’ only loss since November 26. They are 10-1 in that time and next to Angola, the hottest team in this conference right now. That gives them hope that they can make a run at a title. They will need a pretty solid veteran core to be playing strong, including Bailey Hartsough and Beth Stroop.
Potential Tournament Star: Bailey Hartsough is the most recent NECC standout athlete to reach the 1,000 point/1,000 kill club as a two sport star. She has been back on a torrid pace lately.
PRAIRIE HEIGHTS (9-8, 5-4 NECC)
The Panthers are a lot like Lakeland in how they turned around their season from a dismal start. They have been successful against other teams on the bottom of the bracket so they to be happy with their draw here. The Panthers have to control their own tempo and know when and when not to get out on the break. If their press can create instant offense, they could be in good shape.
Potential Tournament Star: If Prairie Heights’ tournament is about controlling tempo, then this has to be Alexis German’s spot. The recent member of the 1,000 point club can play with a variety of tempos.
WEST NOBLE (6-10, 2-5 NECC)
This is a team that we’ve learned is still a year away from reaching full potential. If the Chargers want to make noise in this tournament, the juniors and sophomores have to quickly figure out how to play even better above their age and with more confidence and maturity.
Potential Tournament Star: Jazmyn Smith has the athleticism to be a game changer and the length, even as a wing, that West Noble is going to need to compete with teams that have bigger and more developed post players.
FREMONT (8-8, 3-5 NECC)
The Eagles struggle in close games, so they are going to need to get out big early on teams to get wins and advance in this tournament. They are capable of scoring a decent amount of points, so that is a possibility for them.
Potential Tournament Star: Jada Rhonehouse is the star of this team and will really have to show maturity as a sophomore in her second trip through this tournament.
CHURUBUSCO (4-11, 1-6 NECC)
The Eagles have played steady in a lot of portions of a lot of games. How consistently can they play at a high level? Myah Bear has the leadership and poise to take that lead, but she is going to need other Eagles to do the same.
Potential Tournament Star: Mariah Hosted is coming off a stellar game in a loss to Fremont. She has had a couple of those this year and will be Churubusco’s best bet of starring in this tournament, win or loss.
WESTVIEW (3-13, 0-7 NECC)
A tournament title is probably out of the Warriors’ wheelhouse as no path to get to the finals even will be an easy one. They are young, lack experience and give up the second most amount of points per game in this tournament.
Potential Tournament Star: Gloria Miller will be another of the quality posts in this tournament. Getting to see her duel down low will be a highlight for Westview watchers.
BOUNCE’S FULL PREDICTIONS
Be the first to comment