That is it. The regular season for high school basketball season is over.
Cliche thought/question: how?
This season zoomed by and now we head straight into the postseason with Sectional games starting for the boys on Tuesday. You can catch our breakdowns of the area Sectionals all weekend long. Some yesterday, some today, some tomorrow.
But for now, lets look back at the light schedule for the final week of the regular season that included some great performances and, finally, the crowing of the co-NECC champions; the only conference to have co-champions on the boys side this season.
• How does Bishop Luers step up in the absence of Demarcus Hudson (lost to injury for the rest of the season)? Ask New Haven. We all wondered how much Hudson’s absence would hurt Luers but the initial look shows that his teammates have stepped in and stepped up for the team. That has been something that the Knights have been preaching all year: WE over ME and they have meant it. Naylon Thompson scored 21 in the 15th Luers win of the year, but scoring from six others, including 12 each from Jalen Causey and John Peterson helped make the big regular season closing win possible.
• Why is it so quiet that Carroll is piling up quality wins heading into Sectional play? Especially since they are doing it without Jalen Jackson in the lineup. The question, after Friday’s home win over Warsaw, is how do you defend the Chargers when so many different guys are proving capable night in and night out. Lately, Richie Gross has become a standout, but Friday it was Cody Burkey‘s 12 points out front. That and the emergence of junior Zach Castator have most of us not knowing which way the Chargers will attack from.
• Donald S. Weeks Gymnasium in Columbia City went out with a win on Friday night. The final game to be played in the old house at the current school saw the Eagles top Concordia by, impressively holding Brayden Pearson to 4-of-14 shooting. Mitchell Wilson (19 points), of course, was the leading scorer on the last night in the gym, but Gregory Bolt again busted out a solid night with his 14 points, including some nifty post moves. A poignant end at Donald S. Weeks.
• Possibly the most interesting note out of the NE8 this week is Leo‘s win over Dekalb on Tuesday. It was expected, but the Lions did it while shooting just six three pointers. This was a team who we knew to be dangerous from behind the arc, but with their shooting woes they really have changed to put an emphasis to getting to the basket. The found great success with that against DeKalb, out shooting the Barons from two point range by 12 baskets and by shooting 10 more free throws. They shot more on Friday in a win over Woodlan, but they aren’t relying as much on that perceived shooting prowess.
Also reminded Friday that Blake Davison can indeed dunk. He put up 17 first half points in a win over Woodlan including throwing one down that briefly damaged the rim before referee Scott Geist fixed it with some strong pull-ups on the net that was an impressive intermission.
• Speaking of that Leo/DeKalb game: talk about that mans stat line from Connor Penrod. 15 points and 17 rebounds from the DeKalb sophomore stands out just as impressively as the other team’s win. And folks, trust me when I say that he is only getting better.
• Speaking of big post games and Leo opponents, Joe Reidy of Woodlan looked like a machine on Friday night in a loss to the Lions. Reidy scored a co-game high 20 points, added 16 rebounds and three blocked shots. In a possible preview of a Sectional game, the Warriors were pretty flat in the second half after closing a big deficit to just six points. They didn’t have the extra effort down the stretch that Leo did, but Reidy’s major performance is a big perk to have when you may have to face that same team again soon.
• South Adams has as much going for them heading into the postseason as anyone in the ACAC. Back to back big games this week started with a win over Union City and 27 points from Trey Schoch. They ended the week on Friday by beating Eastbrook behind 29 points, 7 rebounds and 6 steals from James Arnold. They may be far from the favorite in their Sectional, but they certainly do not lack fight.
• Westview has won another NECC title and that is a major stroke in a complicated conference. Their win over Fremont on Tuesday not only clinched them a share of the title, it also gave them their first perfect road record in 10 seasons. Then was Friday and senior night and Charlie Yoder deciding he needed another record. Yoder broke the school’s single game record by scoring 52 points in a win over Concord. The state’s 35th best scorer ever (2,107 points) outscored Concord by himself, 52-47. It made sense that he took one more record from Gary Yoder, the previous single game scoring leader, and did so in front of a home crowd on senior night.
• Also with that NECC title: Churubusco. The Eagles staved off a hungry Eastside on Friday night to claim a share of the conference title with their 8th win in a row. A championship and a win streak is never bad to take into Sectionals. Landen Jordan added another double double, but it was Hunter Perlich‘s 19 points that paced the Eagles. Add scoring depth on top of everything else and Churubusco has a lot going for them at the right time right now.
• While Central Noble ended the regular season on the outside of the NECC title, kudos to them for what they’ve accomplished with a still young core. On Tuesday, they beat Lakewood Park for their 19th win this season and the official most winning team in program history, surpassing 18 wins for the first time ever; a total that would reach 20 on Friday. On Friday, Connor Essegian became the fastest player in Noble County history to reach the 1,000 career point mark by doing so as a sophomore. Essegian scored his team’s first 10 points on the way to a win over Fairfield where Essegian scored a game high 25.
• Angola probably doesn’t feel like they need to convince anyone of their ability heading into the Sectional round, but they made another stride Tuesday. East Noble is a tough team to slow and top, yet Angola did enough of it to get a 51-48 win behind Joel Knox‘s 20 points and Dyer Ball‘s 15. This was, from all accounts, a very tough played game. The Hornets are starting to click again. This was a really nice win for them, as was Friday’s 51-38 win over Lakeland where Ball went 10-of-10 inside on his way to 24 points.
• Ryan Abbott reached a coaching milestone on Tuesday. The Eastside coach recored his 100th win as the Blazers beat Adams Central in a turn back the clock night in the historic old Eastside gym.
• Have Blackhawk Christian’s boys slid right into that same spot in our minds as the Homestead girls? Where maybe we don’t pay them enough attention because we just expect them to win? The Braves are very good again and finished their regular season with year another win over an athletic and hard nosed SAC opponent, beating Northrop on Thursday. The Braves head into the postseason just as put together as last season’s Class 1A state champions. Marcus Davidson led the way with 24 points against Northrop, but as usual, there were so many contributions from the Braves. Fun to watch is an understatement; let us remember that a loss to Homestead remains their only in area loss this year.
• Whitko and Manchester had an interesting slugfest on Tuesday. The Wildcats busted the game open to start the second half with a 20-4 third quarter, but the Squires fought back hard. In the end, Whitko took the win 55-50 behind 31 points from the always dangerous Brett Sickafoose. These are two really fun teams that are, unfortunately for them, stuck in the way wrong Sectional.
• It seems like every week I am talking about bigger and bigger games from Caedmon Bontrager. The Lakewood Park sophomore upped his effort in a win over Adams Central on Friday with 34…yes 34, points and 12 rebounds. Bontrager should be in your mind as one of the most athletic post presences in the area, regardless of class or lack of conference. Sometimes, a Class 1A team is a hard sell to tell Bounce’s fans to go watch. Go watch Caedmon Bontrager. Next week, next year…just see this kid in action because he has a high IQ and when he decides to add edge, he’s too hard to stop.
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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