Here is a word Bounce is using as lot today: penultimate. That means that we have just one more week of girls basketball left before the postseason and wow did time fly.
Conference titles are wrapped up (though the NE8 isn’t quite over yet, technically) and later today – depending on when you read this – the Sectional pairings will be released.
• Northrop picked up a big win on Wednesday, downing Marion despite the Giants’ all time leading scorer Rashaya Kyle going 17-of-20 from the field. Kyle’s big night was stifled in the end with the Bruins’ 58-57 win, built up in the first quarter and sustained throughout even though Marion outscored them in the second half. The Bruins picked their spots efficiently, J’Asia Scott knocked down a trio of big triples and TiAuna White scored 29 points of her own in the win. While Northrop’s Friday win over Wayne wasn’t as headline grabbing, you have to love a stat line like Destiny Jackson‘s with 20 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and four steals.
• Carroll was the big winner of the week in my opinion. Their win at South Side on Friday gave them second place in the SAC and that is a major win for any team in a Homestead dominated world. They have had an incomplete lineup for a lot of the year, but players are stepping up when they need to. Delane Sheets‘ 16 points in the 56-41 win over South led three double digit scorers for the Chargers and eight total scorers. Depth matters. Period.
• Homestead remains perfect in their SAC regular season title history. They wrapped up a fifth straight title on Friday with an 85-15 destruction at North Side. The Spartans are focused on bigger things now, but to go 44 straight games in conference without a loss is a major mark and we shouldn’t ignore it.
• What do you do when Norwell gets five girls in double figures scoring? Hold on for the ride. That happened Tuesday to Jay County, where we saw Maiah Shelton go off (20 points, seven rebounds), but then Kaylee Fuelling, Lauren Bales, Breann Barger and Hailey Henschen all have big games too and were each in double figures scoring. The Knights shot over 49 percent from the field and out rebounded Jay County 37-24 in the process. There was a chance that Jay County could possibly contend in this one, but Norwell erased that thought with three straight 20-plus point quarters. They picked up another win Friday over New Haven with Shelton scoring another 21. As we talk about teams who are peaking at the right time with dangerous Sectionals ahead, the Knights have to be at the forefront of that conversation.
• The East Noble girls have been able to pick up some great programs win this season. They’ve been able to bully their way to wins and pick up nice upsets. Tuesday’s 42-39 win over Prairie Heights could be considered both. They held off Prairie Heights behind a big third quarter lead and saw some quality performances along the way. One Knight we don’t hear as much about is Kylie Garton, but you have to love a stat line like six steals, five assists and four rebounds.
• What do you make of Huntington North‘s low scoring wins? The Vikings scored 21 points in each of their Friday/Saturday games but put up two important wins along the way. Friday’s 21-16 win over Bellmont assured them to sit at third in the Northeast 8, with a lot to build on for the future. They picked up another important win, 21-19 over Concordia, on Saturday. The Vikings had scored just eight points in the game down to the final 2:30 of the contest before a pair of threes from Leah Campbell pushed the Vikings ahead for good with 10 seconds to play. The Vikings used a 13-0 run to close out the game. Huntington North is now tops in the state in defensive average after giving up just 17.5 points per game this weekend. While their scoring isn’t overwhelming, their defense has created a lot of huge stops this weekend and that has to be scary for teams in their future.
• Lets talk balance. Woodlan saw nine different girls contribute in the scoring column Wednesday in a big win over Fremont. We talked about this last week, but Woodlan can beat you in a lot of ways, which they proved over the ACAC Tournament. While Fremont isn’t the biggest challenge for the Warriors, you have to be able to be efficient in a variety of scenarios as we close in on the postseason and this was an example of that. Dakotah Krohn led the way with 14 on Wednesday and Taya Kitzmiller added 13 points in the 56-34 win. The Warriors clinched an outright ACAC title on Saturday with a win over South Adams behind a big 21 points from Krohn.
• South Adams couldn’t stop Woodlan on Saturday, but their win on Thursday was big. They beat Garrett 48-46 at the buzzer despite getting down 11 to start the game. There is life in the Starfires, who have just one senior, who was honored this week too for senior night. Lydia Loshe scored 21 points in the Garrett win; she has become a critical part of this program’s identity.
• Did any girl have a better individual week than Carly Holley did in a pair of Adams Central wins? She scored 18 on Tuesday and then posted 23 points on Friday in a conference win over Bluffton. She can be a major force inside and her presence helps spread out so many things for the Flying Jets.
• Bree Dossen of Heritage joined the 1,000 point club on Saturday, hitting that mark in a win over Bluffton.
IS GARRETT AN ENIGMA? ON THE VERGE OF GREAT? OR JUST RAW?
Part of Garrett‘s win over West Noble on Friday was clear as day. The other part of the game was puzzling. Check that for Garrett’s season. Most of the time, the Railroaders are monsters with four different girls capable of having the best performance of the week, FAN VOTE or otherwise. Their sophomore trio can all score and freshman Bailey Kelham has to be considered best in class right now. There is no doubt that Garrett is going to be very good for a long time to come.
But when they are off, like they were in parts of the second and third quarters on Friday, is their play just hard for me to understand or are they still just a little too raw? They had struggling moments on Thursday in a loss to South Adams and Friday they couldn’t score in moments of the game where they could have pulled away if they did.
At the end of the day though, those raw moments are fewer and further between as we go along. Garrett knows how to rally, they know how to break teams down and they are learning better every game how to win. One of the greatest highlights they had, outside of their defensive effort down the stretch Friday, was Nataley Armstrong‘s ability to break down West Noble’s solid full court press with either her dribble or her passing game. Kelham is a big scorer, Faith Owen is a knock down shooter, Morgan Ostrowski is a dominant post when she gets position. But Armstrong feeds all of it and fed it well on Friday.
• West Noble has been a team all year that wasn’t quite living up to what we expected them to be. But its fair to say that Tuesday’s win over Eastside kind of flipped them into the middle of the teams. Jazmyn Smith (main image) scored 19 points, but the impressive part was holding Eastside to zero first quarter points, outscoring the Blazers 14-0 in the frame. The Chargers have solid defensive structure and it is clear they are finally getting comfortable in it. Friday’s loss at Garrett showed that their offense needs some work, but there is time and space to build.
• Angola got to clinch the NECC title on Tuesday, 58-34 over Westview, with nine players chipping in offensively led by Kayla Fenstermaker’s 10 points. But the night was special most for junior Hanna Knoll, who early in the game scored her 1,000th career point; Knoll finished the game with eight points, one of her lower outputs of the season which is funny considering that a 1,000 point mark as a junior indicates just how high powered her scoring is consistently. She is the 13th player in school history to hit the 1,000 point mark.
• Central Noble is doing their best to jockey for that second spot in the NECC that is tied among three teams heading into the last week. The Cougars took a big step on Friday behind Bridgette Gray‘s 19 points to beat out Eastside. While the Blazers’ skid puts them out of second place contention, there are still four teams with 3 conference losses each that want to make this coming last week the best week including the Cougars, Fairfield, Garrett and Lakeland.
• Fremont senior Grace Schmucker set the program record for steals on Monday night. She had 12 steals in the win over Canterbury.
• Lakeland also had a record breaker this week with senior Beth Stroop becoming the program’s all-time leader in three pointers made. She hit her 134th triple in a win on Tuesday over Churubusco.
• Blackhawk Christian‘s win over Lakewood Park on Saturday made this the best regular season in program history. The 51-30 win was their 13th of the season.
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: Girls hoops Performance of the Week for Jan. 20-25
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