For the first time since 2007, there are no girls basketball games featuring area teams to talk about here the Sunday after the semi state round. For 12 straight years, […]
For the first time since 2007, there are no girls basketball games featuring area teams to talk about here the Sunday after the semi state round. For 12 straight years, at least one Northeast Indiana team was playing on this weekend for the chance to play for a girls hoops state title.
Not this year.
In fact, during that 12 year run, only twice did we have a single team playing at semi state: Central Noble in 2019 and Homestead in 2016. Other than that, we had 10 seasons of two to four teams participating.
It is a weird week without girls basketball. Bounce will wrap up his coverage of girls basketball for the season this week with some columns, so stay tuned for those. Also, tomorrow kicks off the FAN VOTE so you can have your say in who you think is the Player of the Year. We will wrap up our girls hoops coverage on Monday, March 9 with the naming of our official Outside the Huddle All-Area team and Player of the Year.
• What a crazy season in the SAC that is now wrapped with Bishop Luers as the SAC Champions. If you had that in the preseason, then you are either associated with the Knights or a liar. All respect to Fonso White and his crew because they worked hard, but even as an avid appreciator of the program, even I thought that it would be another year or two before White would have his team in championship consideration but they grinded to a title. On Friday, while North Side put up a fight, a Luers win was expected. Jalen Causey led the way with 19 points in the final Luers SAC win.
So it was Carroll‘s start to finish handling of Homestead, where the Spartans never led, that ended up giving Luers their title. Without Jalen Jackson in the lineup, it was senior Ray Vollmer who stepped up just as he did in the SAC Holiday Tournament. When Vollmer is consistent on offense, Carroll is just different. The Chargers won’t get a title, but a big rivalry win proves that they aren’t just going to roll over in the postseason.
The final piece of the SAC deciding night didn’t end up mattering, but Snider still put their best foot forward in a in over South Side on senior night. Junior Michael Eley led the way with 29 points during the senior’s showcase, passing 1,000 points for his career in the process.
Now the question about the SAC’s top 4 is how many of them can win Sectional titles?
• We haven’t talked much about Wayne since their early season upset of Snider, but they picked up their third win in a row on Tuesday by beating South Adams and are getting these wins with a strong scoring hierarchy. Consistently, Michael Redding is at the top and Quincy Miles is nearby, as you would expect from your seniors. But behind them, Jenard Freeman and Cam Toles are playing solid basketball and a really good foundation is being laid for the Generals. Wayne finished out their SAC schedule on Friday with a win behind 21 more points from Redding.
• I already did some raving about Michael Sievers in my column covering Tuesday’s Columbia City win over Manchester but I want to do so again. I went to see the Eagles, as you can read, for a lot of reasons but Sievers certainly made the biggest impression. I love the way he plays, the spots on the floor he works from and his stone cold demeanor in the process. There are a lot of really good workhorse, blue collar guys in this area and Sievers is one of the best of them.
• It isn’t exactly a big man’s world in the area this year but we’ve got some guys who can just flat out score in the post. Kade Fuelling‘s 27 points game for Bellmont in a Tuesday win reminded us just how good he is, even as the Braves have struggled to make enough noise to keep Fuelling at the front of our consciousness. Fuelling turned around on Friday and became the 11th Brave to ever pass 1,000 career points in a win over ACAC champion Bluffton.
• Across from Fuelling in that Tuesday, East Noble sophomore Chris Hood keeps making major improvements and and continues to be difficult for anyone at all to have to guard. Hood went on to score 19 points on Friday in a win over Wawasee.
THE ENERGY OF NORWELL IS CONTAGIOUS
Norwell picked up their 20th win on Saturday, crashing Woodlan’s senior night in a major way. It is the first 20 win seasons in eight years for the Knights and leaves them among just six boys teams in the state with either one or no losses.
What really separates the Knights as they head for an interesting final week and then a hope for Sectional run is how they play together. Norwell, again on Saturday, played fundamental and precise, but they can move and alter their pace and tempo. And then they play with uptempo energy, it spreads like wild fire through their team and their coaching staff. Led by the senior trio of Will Geiger, Drew Federspiel and Connor Torson – who rolled through Jay County on Friday on their own Senior Night – every player on this team gets better every time I see them. They are motivated to make the most of one of those, so far, storybook, seasons and they all look like they are having fun doing it.
They have been number one for OTH for a while for a reason. Norwell opened up with a 23-7 start against Woodlan and Geiger was a monster on the boards all night while Federspiel played as free as I have seen him in a while. Luke McBride also scored a double double for himself and Eli Riley blasted four threes. Norwell is getting deeper at the top and more confident. That has to be scary for Class 3A opponents.
• Senior night at Woodlan was, as mentioned above, tough on Saturday. But this has been a fun senior class that brought back a title to the Warrior program after many of them were important growing parts as underclassmen when the likes of Aaron Hahn were leading the way. Bounce has never hid his enjoyment of how Ben Reidy plays and it was good to see him get on the court, even for a few minutes on his senior night after missing the entire season with a shoulder injury. Fellow senior Mitch Mendenhall led the Warriors in scoring and there were a couple of really great plays of seniors Trevor Wiedenhoeft and Aiden Bayman when one would find another cutting across the baseline for a score; a nicely oiled machine after all these year.s
YODER IS AN ALL-TIME GREAT
Charlie Yoder deserved his own subhead this week. Sure his near triple double (30 point, nine rebound, eight assist) effort on Tuesday in a Westview win over Wawasee was impressive. But what Yoder has been able to accomplish now is even more special. That night he became just the 55th player in the history of Indiana boys high school basketball to surpass 2,000 career points. 55 doesn’t make it seem rare but when you realize the tens of thousands of players who have played in this state, it says something monumental.
Yoder could surpass Chris Thomas as the 25th best scorer in the state by the time he is done; that is reachable. He currently sits at 2,044 career points (44th in state history), after scoring 30 more on Friday in a win over Goshen, while Thomas sits at 2,156. In our area, Yoder’s all-time rank is even higher with him sitting as the 5th best player in what we consider our area all-time. Those above him are Deshaun Thomas, Logan Irwin, Seth Colclasure and Charlie McKenzie. On Friday, he passed area greats Bryson Scott, Kevin Ault and Jeff Perlich in scoring.
• While we are on the Yoder track, Westview coach Rob Yoder (aka Charlie’s dad) won his 300th game on Friday night. He is one of 46 active Indiana boys high school basketball coaches with 300 or more wins. His winning percentage of .708 in that time is the 6th best among those 46 coaches.
• Central Noble and Prairie Heights lived up to the hype on Wednesday and the Cougars managed to pick up their second win over the Panthers this season, 61-58. And it kind of came out of nowhere. Prairie Heights controlled a lot of the game and led by as many as 10 late. The Panthers showed a good deal of patience and IQ with Brandon Christlieb and Elijah Malone handling themselves well offensively. And then Central Noble reminded everyone why their shooting always has them in game. Very good press defense, a three from Myles Smith, a three from Sawyer Yoder and a really good defensive stop from Logan Gard in the post all allowed the Cougars to roll back into the game. Then, with four seconds left, of course the ball went to Connor Essegian‘s hands and while his three rimmed out, he took a foul from Malone that send him to the free throw line to close the game out. Central Noble is another one of those teams who have shown that they are never OUT of a game.
• On Friday, Central Noble won their 18th game, trying the 1976-77 and 2000-01 teams for most wins in a season. Essegian, just a sophomore, is now at 971 career points after scoring 29 on Friday, passing Ridley Zolman for fifth all-time in program scoring. Essegian also broke Mike Young’s 43 year old single season scoring record as Essegian now has 538 points on the year.
• Angola got interim coach Josh Sheets his first career win on Friday. The Hornets used a good fourth quarter to pull away from Eastside. Brian Parrish led the way with a career high 20 points in the win that stopped a three game Hornet skid. They picked up another W on Saturday against West Noble.
• Here is a name to keep in mind for Blackhawk Christian‘s very bright future: Gage Sefton. The 6-foot-3 freshman plays a really fun brand of basketball and lately he has been cracking the varsity lineup more, scoring 9 points on Tuesday in a win over Marion despite limited minutes still split with the junior varsity.
• OK Caedmon Bontrager. Scoring 27 points on Prairie Heights and Elijah Malone is good, even in a Lakewood Park loss. The Panthers again lost on the road one Friday to a tough Leo team, but Bontrager scored 23. Who can slow him when he puts his head down and grinds? I see you.
• It may be one of every few girls notes you’ll see this week, but worth mentioning. Tuesday at the boys game for Lakewood Park, Chloe Jolloff was celebrated as the new girls basketball single single season scoring leader for the team. She scored 377 points this season to make the new record. My guess is, she tries to break her own record next season.
• Whitko hits threes. I think I’ve made that much clear. On Wednesday, they buried 20 as a team in a dominating 101-57 with over North Miami. Clayton Ebbinghouse made seven of those triples and finished with 21 points. Brett Sickafoose led Whitko with 27 points in passing the century mark for the team and William Rickerd added 17 points.
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:
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