bounceinset_21THE GIRLS SEASON ENDS

We all knew that our six area teams would each have a tough trek through the Regional round. The north half of the state is actually pretty loaded this season. Yet, I certainly was hopeful that we could get a team into the semi state round. That ended with Norwell‘s loss to Benton Central and Homestead‘s loss to Northwestern on Saturday night in Regional finals. The Spartans finished with a program second all-time best 26 wins. Homestead actually led at 7-4 and 12-9 against the juggernaut Northwestern team.

No such luck this season.

Somehow, the girls basketball season has abruptly ended and what a fun season it was. We saw some domination, some great conference races and the rise of players and programs that we didn’t expect to be so good so soon. There certainly was something for everybody during this girls basketball season. Outside the Huddle will be wrapping the season up on our end in the coming weeks, but for now let us all remember the season fondly. And congrats to the teams who were able to be champions of some sort this season: Homestead, Carroll, Norwell, Columbia City, Woodlan, Adams Central, Angola, Garrett and Blackhawk Christian.

RELATED: Girls’ regional hoops roundup

RELATED BOUNCE: High activity pays dividends in Norwell’s Regional morning victory over Winchester

SAC

• Where to even start with this conference? CHAOS! We head into the last week of SAC play with four teams tied at 6-2 in conference after South Side beat Bishop Luers and the Knights turned around to beat Snider last week. All four of those teams could win a share of the conference or even win it outright pending what happens in three games this Friday: Bishop Luers vs. North Side, Snider vs. South Side and Homestead vs. Carroll. To save room here, Bounce will break those chances down in Bounce’s Picks on Monday but let’s just say, if you are one of those first place teams (Luers, Snider, Homestead and Carroll), you just have to win and see how it shakes out. Thank goodness for the good people at Summit City Sports so that we can keep an eye on all those games Friday night.

RELATED BOUNCE: Any dark age of Bishop Luers basketball is officially over after win vs. Snider

Friday’s game between Bishop Luers and Snider was an instant classic and in the running for the best game of the year. Both teams led by double figure points, both teams stormed back and there were some really impressive offensive performances from Snider’s Dillon Duff and Michael Eley and Bishop Luers’ Naylon Thompson. Perhaps the difference in the end was Luers’ Demarcus Hudson and Jalen Causey avoiding a fifth foul each for the last quarter to stay in and be game changers down the stretch.

• Speaking of those games last week, South Side threw the biggest wrench into it all with their upset over Luers on Tuesday. Beating the Archers on their home court is always hard and they reminded everyone of that in a game that was maybe overlooked. While the high profile Archers did what was expected of them, it is the play of Dawan Parker lately that is making South stronger, both against Luers and in Saturday’s overtime win against Huntington North. Parker is playing extremely well and aggressive down the stretch of the season.

• Here is a weird stat for you: Concordia hit 20 total shots (including free throws) in Friday’s loss to Homestead but only two of them were from two point range. The Cadets shot 2-of-18 from inside the arc in the loss with both makes coming from Brayden Pearson.

Carroll had a solid week of depth in their scoring again in wins over North Side and Northrop. Richie Gross and Ryan Preston each surpassed 20 points against the Legends, while Jalen Jackson posted an 11 points/11 assist double double. In a win over Northrop, Gross again scored 20 while four more scored in double figures including 12 points each from Ray Vollmer, Jackson and Preston.

Fly
Bishop Luers’ Christian Fly springs across the court to the Knights’ student section on February 14 after Luers beat then-SAC first place Snider.

NE8

• What a week for the Norwell boys; haven’t we been saying that a lot lately? After a dominant win over Heritage on Tuesday behind 24 points from Will Geiger and 17 from Eli Riley, the Knights clinched an outright NE8 title on Friday. Geiger added 21 points and 8 rebounds on Friday in the win over Huntington North that made sure the Knights wouldn’t share the conference title. Also on Friday, Geiger became the all-time leading rebounder in school history, passing Darin Archbold.

• Talking about Huntington North briefly, we should point out that this team that is 6th in the NE8 has put some fight into both New Haven and Norwell games the last two weeks and took South Side to overtime on Saturday too. The Vikings are in a rebuild, but have a lot of energy in the second half of the season. Zach Hubbart has really emerged as a consistent presence next to Deven Newcomb.

ACAC

Adams Central gets the county bragging rights this year with an upset of South Adams on Friday. It was the Flying Jets defense that limited every Starfire not named James Arnold in the 57-46 win at the Stardome. Lucas Van De Weg is one of those steady handed guards that doesn’t get enough credit but his 16 points and 6 assist effort along with his defensive credibility was tough.

Jay County beat Heritage on Friday in a game many didn’t pay attention to, but Jay County was very efficient from the free throw line. Ethan Dirksen shot 13-of-13 from the line, second all time now in program history to Jack Houck’s 14-of-14 mark according to Bounce’s buddy Chris Schanz. The team shot 19-of-21 from the charity stripe.

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Garrett’s Nataley Armstrong goes up with a shot against Benton Central on February 15 during a Class 3A Regional game at Bellmont.

SOMETHING TO BUILD ON FOR GARRETT GIRLS

There is disappointment, but the Regional experience really does matter for the Garrett girls. It has been said before, but very few schools ever get to capture a Sectional title with a core of sophomores and a freshman. That may all sound like a hollow runner up trophy after their loss to Benton Central in Saturday morning’s Class 3A Regional, but it isn’t.

With more years will come added maturity, but more importantly the Railroaders will have a sense of refinement closer to what Benton Central was able to showcase. Garrett has all of the pieces to be a really good basketball program in the coming years and to have a Sectional title so early in that time frame is something not many get to claim. Watching Garrett from the early season and into Saturday’s loss, there has been vast improvement in their skill set and toughness; there was a lot of fight in them against Benton Central. An early and quick deficit and Bailey Kelham foul trouble only seemed to motivate them more in the second quarter and Nataley Armstrong about played her legs off trying to make things happen.

Garrett wanted a Regional win and a Regional title. But don’t shortchange this experience for them this year, at least a season earlier than they were expected to be on the stage they were Saturday at Bellmont. This is a fun team to watch, a solid team to watch and, in time, will be one of the top teams in the area for consistent runs.

NECC

• The road to the NECC title still runs through Topeka and kudos to Westview for making that happen after graduating so much last spring. The Warriors’ win over Prairie Heights on Friday was absolutely huge, even if the Panther faithful didn’t like that prediction of mine. An evenly matched game came down to the fourth quarter and Westview’s poise allowed them to close out big behind double digit scoring from four different players. yes, we heap praise on Charlie Yoder – rightfully so, as he inches closer to 2,000 career points – but Blake Egli, Drew Litwiller and Brady Yoder all stepped up Friday as the team shot 53 percent from the field. They control the NECC now with one conference game left and a win in that one against Fremont would clinch at least a share of yet another conference title. Westview went 10-of-10 in the final 90 seconds from the free throw line.

• That team that is there to still share with Westview is Churubusco. The Eagles, as expected, plowed through last place Hamilton on Friday by hitting the century mark scoring for the second time this season with 108 points including 25 from Jackson Paul. They will finish in conference with 6th place Fairfield, 8th place Eastside and 11th place Garrett. As long as they avoid letdown and upset, the Eagles should be in line to share the NECC but we also won’t know that until the last day of the regular season on February 28.

Central Noble‘s win over Whitko on Tuesday did a lot in proving that the Cougars could overcome troubles. The Wildcats did everything they needed to do in terms of shooting the basketball, hitting 14 three pointers on 36 attempts. But Central Noble remained calm and consistent in fighting that off behind 29 points from Connor Essegian and 22 from Sawyer Yoder. The Cougars need to be able to stave off big runs and shots into the postseason; this was a nice step. Essegian (6th all-time in programs scoring already) also now has 483 points this season and will be looking to hit 500 points in a season this week; the only two Central Noble players to ever do that? All-time leading boys scorer Mike Young and all-time leading girls scorer Sydney Freeman,

• What to think about Angola this point? I am not quite sure. The Hornets have now lost three straight since the exit of coach Ed Bentley and after Friday’s loss to Bellmont, it was reported that the coaches and players were not available for any media comment. This is a team who has some great wins this season and could contend in their Sectional with their load of talent that they have even showcased this past week against Leo and the Braves, so let’s hope the Hornets can get things straight soon.

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Norwell’s Lauren Bales shoots a three pointer on February 15 against Winchester in Class 3A Regional morning play at Bellmont.

AREA

• Did you know that Blackhawk Christian can be really consistent? Lets talk 65 percent from the field and 74 percent from two point range on Tuesday in an absolute shellacking of Snider. Outside of Jake Boyer‘s 0-for-1 shooting, the lowest shooting percentage for the Braves on Tuesday was 57.1 percent coming from Callan Wood‘s 4-for-7 outing and that is not a bad look. Marcus Davidson was clutch from outside, hitting 5-of-8 three pointers and Caleb Furst shot 85.7 percent from the field. Snider did a lot of things right in that game, but how do you beat any team, especially Blackhawk Christian, when they shoot like that?

• What a great week for the Benton Bucks homeschool team. They beat Trinity on Tuesday behind 33 points from Jake Lock. The Bucks then upset the Indianapolis Northwest Warriors on Friday with Lock scoring with three seconds left to give the Bucks a 46-44 win. The Bucks ended the week as the varsity state runner up by losing 56-54 to the defending national champion Indianapolis Wildcats.

• As Lakewood Park looks towards the postseason, their scoring depth has come alive too. They beat Bethany Christian on Thursday with three guys in double figures, led by Caedmon Bontrager‘s 29 points. On Saturday in a win over South Bend Career Academy, Bontrager’s 22 points and Aiden Fetters‘ 19 led four players in double figure scoring. Scoring depth is huge in Class 1A postseasons.

VOTE

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 Feb. 10-15

FAN VOTE: Girls hoops Performance of the Week for Regionals

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

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