• So hey guys, Snider girls basketball is going to be really good. And for like, a long time. It took them a couple of extra days to get their first game in and when they did, there were no signs of it being day one of the season. Snider is 2-0 now of the first time since 2016 and new coach Akilah Sims has gotten through the first week of her high school basketball coaching career perfect.
Beating Huntington North on Friday was probably the most impressive of the two wins. The Vikings gave up 42 or more points just five times last season and had a solid defensive effort of 30.7 points per game in 2019-20. So for Snider to come out of the block and put up 42 in a winning effort says a lot about how A) prepared and B) athletic that the Panthers are. But there is a bigger point to be made that everyone in the know already was aware of (but we still had to see how it played out): Snider’s Class of 2024 is loaded.
A freshman doesn’t just come in and make a major difference often. And Snider has three of them. Jordyn Poole had a game high 17 points against Huntington North and then scored 15 on Saturday in a 54-40 win over Bishop Dwenger. She’s far from alone as Destini Craig was a strong scorer Friday and then came back Saturday to lead the Panthers with 20 points on Saturday. Fellow freshman Joh’nea Donahue scored 11 points in the win over Bishop Dwenger.
This is a team with a senior leader who is very capable in all facets of the game. So when three freshmen come in and make this kind of impact, eyes shouldn’t just be open, they should be planted firmly on Snider. In fact, all 34 first half points against Dwenger on Saturday came from the freshmen trio. This is a good team who is going to dare to be great.
• Wayne‘s win over Blackford on Tuesday gave the Generals their first back-to-back seasons with opening game wins since 2008 and 2009. As Wayne continues to build back this program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2014-15, little steps like this are actually monumental. Last season’s four wins was a big step in that direction too and all signs are that coach Lacia Gorman has a great buy in from her young team.
Shabrea O’Quinn posted 17 points and 8 rebounds while freshman Sydney Gorman hit four three pointers and scored 12 points. Another freshman, Khalise Collins, had 11 points and seven rebounds
When it comes to early feel good stories, I am putting Wayne on the watch list. Sure, it is just one win but it is a win against a team they lost to last season and gave them plenty of momentum for a three game week even if this way their only win of the three games. Wayne is getting better and it does show.
• Is the future of Bishop Luers basketball in Addie Shank‘s hands? The freshman led the Knights in scoring for a second straight game on Tuesday, this time in a win over Adams Central. Shank’s length is already causing real problems for opponents with a second straight 16 point game. She added eight rebounds and three blocks on Tuesday in the win over the Flying Jets.
Also a standout for the Knights has been Janiaya Bright. She had 14 points, 4 assists and 4 steals in the win over Adams Central, then turned around to be the biggest Knights bright spot (get it…BRIGHT SPOT) in a loss Thursday to South Side. In that game, she had 11 points and six rebounds.
• It is fair to say that many have been waiting to see Lamyia Woodson dominate night in and night out. She has shown so many signs of being able to take over games, but taking the lead isn’t something we had seen consistently in past seasons as she played her role. Consider that changed as we start this season. South Side went 2-0 this week, the first 2-0 start since 2017-18 when they finished 23-5. Right there at the forefront is Woodson, who has been absolutely dominant against both a young Bishop Luers interior and a more experienced Northridge team that had just given Homestead a run for their money.
There is a serious edge to Woodson’s game to kick off her senior season, almost like she doesn’t care who gets in her way (or tries). After a 20 point, 11 rebound effort against the Knights on Wednesday, she plowed her way to a 16 point, 14 rebound effort against Northridge on Saturday. While Outside the Huddle doesn’t have a traditional “player of the week,” Woodson would be the clear frontrunner if we did.
• East Noble needs to be a model for consistency. That is a lesson learned or reminded on Tuesday. Despite falling behind 10-2 to Bishop Dwenger and coughing up the ball to the Saints’ quick hands early, the Knights bounced back hard. A lot of teams would fold after falling behind so badly early but the Knights prospered by doing what coach Shawn Kimmel preached all preseason: pacing and energy.
East Noble took a 12-0 run as the second quarter was closing and really pressured Dwenger and guard Lexi Linder during the second half. The reality was that the Saints were going to have their moments. They are a solid team that preaches consistency of their own. Linder is good outside, Maggie Cheever (10 points, 11 rebounds) is tough in the middle. But East Noble was able to create matchup trouble. They ended the third quarter on another big run, 11-2, and shut down each Dwenger shot at a comeback.
• Among the teams who are in the rebuilding process is Leo, who picked up a nice win early in the week against a pretty experienced Churubusco team. With just two seniors in the lineup, the Lions are leaning heavily on their sophomore class to bring some balance to the lineup. That means taking some lumps here and there, but wins over teams like Busco will be bright spots.
Although they took their lumps with back to back losses to start the season, Leo is now two-thirds of the way to matching last season’s win total by sitting at 2-3. In that win over Churubusco, it was two Class of 2023 players who really worked the Eagles. Haylee Schott scored 19 points and 12 rebounds while Leah May scored 17 and had nine rebounds in the victory. A day later, they won their second game of the season with a 56-42 win over Wayne marking the second time in two seasons they have won on back to back nights. Gabrielle Adams led the way with 14 points; this is Leo’s best start since 2016. Although they lost to Blackhawk Christian on Saturday, Schott still managed 16 points.
• After their first two games were postponed due to players in quarantine, Bellmont is out of the blocks strong. The NE8 is already looking like it could be the most fun conference this season and Squaw success just adds to that. Bellmont is 2-0 for the first time since 2008 thanks to wins over Woodlan and North Side.
While the victory over the Warriors stands as a more impressive win, a game like Saturday night at North Side will really get a team flowing. Bellmont was clearly a big favorite but it didn’t stop them from showing that confidence and playing to their own level in the win. With three players in double figures, led by Morgan Shifferly‘s 19 points, Bellmont’s offense is looking crisp. They have three distinctly interesting challenges ahead of the them this week too, but there is a chance for the Squaws to start 5-0 for the first time since 2002. If that is not one of the most intriguing NE8 storylines, I don’t know what would be.
• Eastside‘s aggression was on full display Tuesday with their first win of the season over a previously unbeaten Blackhawk Christian. Not surprisingly, a lot of that came from Sullivan and Skye Kessler. The duo really pushed the tempo on both ends of the floor. Skye’s hard dribble drive and Sullivan’s ability to pull up on a dime anywhere on the floor made them a challenge for the Braves defense.
But Bounce left that game with one name on his mind: Grace Kreischer. The sophomore played a major role in this one giving Eastside a second natural post to pair with Ally King. Kreischer was unafraid of the moment in a major starting role. She protected the rim well, didn’t mind going up with two hands for a volleyball style block even when in foul trouble and was a beast on the boards.
There will be plenty of times in conference play for Eastside where they are going to need an intimidating force. Kreischer may not come across that way for everyone each night, but Tuesday was a good coming out party for her. She scored six points but doesn’t need to be a major offensive scoring threat because of what else she is showing she can do. Aggression, as you may have read Tuesday, was THE takeaway for me but Kreischer was certainly a standout I wasn’t expecting.
On Thursday, the Blazers struck first in the NECC with the first conference win of any team, beating Fremont behind Sullivan Kessler’s 13 points.
• West Noble is hungry and maybe, just maybe feel like they deserve a little more respect this season. And when you, maybe, feel that way…may as well have a Mabie stand out. In this instance, it is Mackensy Mabie who is leading the charge with the West Noble roster a little short handed.
The Columbia City transfer almost single handedly ruined the opening night of basketball in her former school’s new gym on Tuesday. There wasn’t a ton of pomp and circumstance to sustain Mabie’s offensive outburst as the Eagles hosted West Noble. And what there was, Mabie ran over everyone with her 24 point game performance, one of the top scoring outputs of the young season across the area. West Noble outscored Columbia City 28-16 in the second half.
Mabie’s four point play to start the fourth quarter was clutch and she is going to be a player that could really make a splash in the NECC as we continue with this season.
• Speaking again of Blackhawk Christian, they learned a lot from their loss to Eastside on Tuesday and turned up their intensity and effort on Friday, beating a really stellar athletic performance from New Haven with one of their own. The 71-55 win was nice, but Hailee Kline again reminded the area that small schools can rule with her 29 point outing.
Kline was one of the best kept secrets in the past at times, but really shouldn’t be a secret anymore; she is really, really good. She worked New Haven a lot of ways: shot well, got to the rim and converted from the free throw line in the win. The reality is that Kline can do this almost any night against almost any opponent. What will continue to make the Braves thrive is when there is buy in and step up around her. Friday’s win was a complete game; all eight players that touched the court scored including Kline’s night and Lily Helmuth‘s 20 points (knocking down four triples).
Kline added a game high 22 points on Saturday in a win over Leo that moved the Braves to 2-1 on the week and 4-1 overall; their best five game start since 2015.
Ella Bickel is continuing to keep Heritage strong early, she hit 8-of-9 free throws on Tuesday in a 46-41 win over Prairie Heights to finish with 18 points. It pushed Heritage to start their season 3-0 for just the second time in 12 seasons….Columbia City‘s Hayley Urban became the first basketball player to score a basket in the school’s new gym Tuesday. She finished with 14 points….Warsaw used a 20-3 run in the final 3 minutes to beat Manchester by 20 points on Wednesday. The big run was highlighted by a game high 24 points from Audrey Grimm and 10 assists, 8 points and 8 rebounds from Bailie Stephens….On Thursday, Bishop Dwenger beat Bluffton in 3 of 4 quarters, but a 24-4 second quarter in Bluffton‘s favor gave them plenty of cushion for their first win over a SAC team since 2007; Bluffton was led by Emme Boots‘ 22 points and eight rebounds….New Haven‘s Kayla Williams scored a career high 28 points on Friday in a loss to Blackhawk Christian.
Be sure to vote in this week’s FAN CHOICE for Performance of the Week. Keep in mind with basketball, this isn’t a player of the week poll. We aren’t taking into consideration every single game on a player’s weekly resume. Instead, these are the best singular games of the week.
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