We truly are in the dog days of the boys basketball season.
While we are in the midst of crowning conference champions (congratulations Bluffton and Norwell), we have truly settled in when it comes to identifying the hierarchy of teams in the area.
Because of that, there has been very little movement in Bounce’s Power Poll in the last few weeks, particularly among the top five.
So we are mixing it up this week, identifying the unsung hero on each team in the top 10.
1. NORWELL (16-1, 6-0 NE8)
UNSUNG HERO: Jon Colbert, freshman
Colbert is part of the heralded freshman class at Norwell that has been a big part of the Knights’ success this season. While classmate Luke McBride has gotten a lot of attention due to his shooting prowess, Colbert gives Norwell some grittiness off the bench. While not a true post, the frosh can go inside and be physical, while also being intelligent in his shot selection. He gives Norwell energy and efficiency as a key reserve.
NORWELL RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 4-0
2. SNIDER (15-3, 6-1 SAC)
UNSUNG HERO: Karson Jenkins, sophomore
Let the glasses be an indicator that this kid can shoot. He currently leads the Panthers in three-point shooting, hitting 40 percent of his attempts from range.
As Snider looks to peak at the right time in the next few weeks, Jenkins has shown he is heating up. He has finished in double figures in four of the last six games, including 16 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the field in a win at Carroll.
For the season, the sophomore is averaging 6.2 points per game.
SNIDER RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 6-1
3. BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN (16-3)
UNSUNG HERO: Callan Wood, junior
Wood had his best game of the season against Woodlan on the first of February, dropping 17 points in a win over the Warriors. But the junior has been a factor all season with hard-nosed physicality and willingness to do anything to help the Braves win.
In fact, Blackhawk Christian coach Marc Davidson sang Wood’s praises earlier this season.
“I think Callan Wood and Andrew McIntosh are two of the most hard-nosed players we have ever had,” said Davidson.
Wood does the dirty work that does not get noticed when surrounded by the likes of Caleb Furst, Zane Burke and Marcus Davidson. Even so, he is averaging over 7 points per game.
BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 2-1
4. BISHOP LUERS (10-5, 5-1 SAC)
UNSUNG HERO: Nick Thompson, freshman
The younger brother to Naylon hasn’t been asked to be a premier scorer for the Knights, but he has done his part and been a solid contributor for a team that has caught many by surprise.
Thompson recently put up 10 points against Bishop Dwenger and 11 points against Norwell, showing that he could be finding his groove on the offensive end. That said, the 6-foot-1 guard merely has to be that guy who can keep defenses honest and unable to double-team the likes of brother Naylon Thompson and senior Demarcus Hudson.
BISHOP LUERS RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 1-4
5. CARROLL (13-3, 4-2 SAC)
UNSUNG HERO: Ray Vollmer, senior
On a team dominated by underclassmen, Vollmer is the go-to veteran presence on the floor for the Chargers. He averages 6 points and 3 rebounds a game, but his greater impact is in the huddle and on the defensive end.
Carroll’s success this season is in large part to a defense allowing just 43 points per game. Vollmer leads by example with his effort and tenacity on the defensive end, something that is infectious throughout the roster.
But don’t discount Vollmer offensively. He hit four 3’s against Snider in the one-point loss on Jan. 31.
CARROLL RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 2-3
6. NEW HAVEN (12-5, 5-1 NE8)
UNSUNG HERO: Dre Wright, junior
Wright brings that football mentality to the basketball court. And why shouldn’t he? The junior was one of the better linebackers in the Northeast 8 last fall.
At 6-2 and 215 pounds, Wright is built for the rigors of the post, where positioning and physicality reign. He is not afraid to mix it up with guys taller and wider than him, but he is rarely beaten when it comes to strength.
New Haven has its share of scorers. Wright is a perfect complement.
NEW HAVEN RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 0-4
7. HOMESTEAD (11-7, 4-2 SAC)
UNSUNG HERO: Jake Archbold, senior
After stepping away from hoops as a junior, Archbold returned to the court for the Spartans in his final prep season of eligibility. He immediately recaptured his superlative of being the best on-ball defender on the Homestead roster.
Archbold is never going to be the leading scorer in a game, but he is going to do the dirty work that needs to be done. He is scrappy and has great court awareness, both attributes that have carried over from the football field.
The senior averages 3.5 points per game, but means more to the Spartans than what you can see in a box score.
HOMESTEAD RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 5-2
8. WESTVIEW (15-3, 8-1 NECC)
UNSUNG HERO: Blake Egli, senior
While Charlie Yoder rolls towards 2,000 career points, his classmate Egli has done an exceptional job taking some of the scoring load off of the star.
Egli is a knockdown shooter who gets lost at times when opposing defenses center on Yoder and others. The senior makes them pay, as he did last weekend against Plymouth when he hit 4-of-6 from range.
WESTVIEW RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 1-1
9. CHURUBUSCO (9-6, 6-1 NECC)
UNSUNG HERO: Luke McClure, junior
Lost in the hype of guys like Jackson Paul, Landen Jordan and Hunter Perlich is McClure, a 6-foot guard who is sneaky good offensively and has a good command of running the offense.
The junior averages 7 points a game, but his greater value is as a facilitator. He trails only Paul in assists per contest, putting up a little more than 3 dimes every night. That selflessness has propelled Churubusco back atop the NECC with the return of Jordan.
CHURUBUSCO RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 1-1
10. EAST NOBLE (9-7, 3-2 NE8)
UNSUNG HERO: Chris Hood, sophomore
When Brent Cox exhausted his eligibility a season ago, it left a tremendous void in the post for the Knights. Enter Hood, who has stepped up to fill that hole admirably.
While not as physical and fundamentally sound as Cox (yet), Hood gives East Noble that inside presence to crash the boards with authority. The sophomore averages a little over 6 points per game, but his greater impact is felt on both ends at the rim with his rebounding prowess. Entering this week, he averages seven rebounds a contest, with a season-high 15 in a loss to Homestead in mid-January.
EAST NOBLE RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 1-1
Other teams in the conversation (in no particular order): Prairie Heights (13-3), Central Noble (14-4), Northrop (9-10), Concordia Lutheran (9-7), Leo (10-6), Bluffton (12-5), Woodlan (11-6).
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