Lately, there have been some great battles in the Northeast 8 and Saturday night will be another of those big ones. It also seems that Ossian’s Castle has been host to some of these great games.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs of New Haven make the trip to the always rowdy and packed Castle at Norwell in our Outside the Huddle Game of the Weekend on Saturday night.
1. CONFERENCE TITLE LEAD
No trophies will be given out on Saturday night, but at the midrange point of the NE8 schedule, the winner here is going to be the favorite at 4-0. Columbia City sits right there too at 3-0 and this is a conference where a lot of weird stuff can happen. That said, this a big momentum win for either team, who will be able to claim that they beat the other and Leo. That’s a great resume and would give plenty of confidence that the winner of New Haven/Norwell remains the conference favorite.
2. LONG RANGE THREATS
Last time a big conference foe was in The Castle, Leo couldn’t find any kind of rhythm and all the credit to Norwell for that. They were well prepared for the Lions arsenal of shooters and stuck with them throughout the game. I highly doubt this comes down to a shooting contest, but if it does, whoever can hit consistently is in great shape. They both have threats but who is the biggest threat?
3. TEMPO OF THE GAME
There has to be the question of if Norwell can keep pace with the quick pace that New Haven pushes out. The Bulldogs are going to get up and down, led on the break by Jamarr Hutchins and Thomas Latham and they can move up the court with almost anyone in the area. Is Norwell one of those teams that can keep up? The Knights are going to be willing to try in some occasions, but is playing at that pace playing in New Haven’s hands?
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
JAKAR WILLIAMS, NEW HAVEN
The Bulldogs have a lot of options to throw at Will Geiger, but Williams is probably the best bet because he’s a physical force at the rim. They are going to need to try and out strong Geiger and Williams is very, very strong.
ELI RILEY, NORWELL
There are several options to spread out the floor for the Knights when it comes to shooting the ball. But for now, let’s expect experience to help and that comes in the way that Riley moves without the ball in his hands, especially with how teams double down on Luke McBride. If he can get his shots off, Riley is important.
DONOVYNN LEWIS, NEW HAVEN
He is proving himself to be a monster threat no matter where the game goes. The Castle is a place notoriously hard for visiting shooters to find their stroke, so Lewis should be able to lean on the fact he’s become far more than just a shooter that he was labeled as earlier in his career. All energy all of the time, Lewis is certainly New Haven’s individual X-factor.
WILL GEIGER, NORWELL
Let’s just call it how it is. Geiger is a force and can get his against any team with any level of comfort. The biggest key to this game, even if it’s not listed below, is how Geiger can perform on Saturday night. This is a big spotlight moment for Geiger, let’s see how he performs.
KEYS TO VICTORY – NEW HAVEN
1. DEFEND BELOW THE BLOCK
Go back to our Leo/Norwell Game of the Weekend preview and you’ll see that this same key existed. Leo failed. Will Geiger had his way too much. New Haven can’t let that happen. Throw different guys at him, more than one guy at a time, whatever it takes. Do not let Geiger get below the block if you want to hold him back.
2. DIVERSIFY THE OFFENSE
New Haven’s biggest strength is their offensive diversity. They have a lot of guys who can chip in and they don’t know need all of them to blow the doors off. Hutchins, Latham, Lewis, Williams, DeAndre Wright and Darrion Brooks are all capable of contributing. Don’t be to single focused and Norwell will have to spread themselves out.
KEYS TO VICTORY – NORWELL
1. REMEMBER YOUR TRAINING
No, this isn’t some Jedi moment; instead, it just means remember what got you here. There is no reason to deviate too far from game plan or what Norwell has done to this point this season. They’ve beat some of the area’s better teams because they scout well and prepare better.
2. DON’T GET COMFORTABLE
Leo was able pull back in their game with Norwell when the Knights got a little too complacent. The Knights have a big ability, especially at home, to get on a good run and have positive momentum. Norwell needs to keep pushing that momentum for 32 minutes. If the Knights get New Haven out of the game, they need to make sure to never let them back in.
This is another one of those hard to predict games. Call it a toss up, I wouldn’t be even halfway shocked to see this game going either way. New Haven’s aggression and speed is a tough stop, but some teams have stopped it by taking responsibility for the tempo. Can Norwell do that? Can we remember that this is The Castle we are playing? I welcome the hate New Haven. Bounce picks Norwell