Ok, settle down now. We have a lot to talk about with both boys and girls hoops taking to the stage this week. As you can see, Bounce will be bringing you two separate columns each Sunday: one of the gentlemen and one for the ladies.
I mean, you can read both of them no matter who you are, one will just focus on boys hoops and the other on girls hoops. But here, it is all about what the gentlemen did this holiday week.
• Carroll boys are immediately on the warpath this season and it starts with two wins against Norwell and Penn. A major catalyst is clearly Jalen Jackson, who flexed some extended muscle all summer and it is translating to the high school court as the season starts. Jackson posted 19 points, 11 rebounds and six assists against Norwell and then scored 33 points with 10 more rebounds on Saturday in the win over Penn.
While Norwell isn’t the foe they were last season, they were chasing Carroll shooters all game on Tuesday. As a team, the Chargers shot 19 three pointers but were led by a combined 8-of-11 from deep from Cody Burkey and Charlie Rudolph. The pair torched the nets and spread the floor wide open for Carroll. The pair finished with 17 and 11 points respectively.
Saturday’s win over Penn marked the 300th in the career of Carroll coach Marty Beasley in the last 22 seasons with 231 of them coming leading the Chargers for the past 16. Prior to coming to Carroll, Beasley led Garrett’s team but with the Chargers, he has 11 winning seasons. A 2-0 start to 2020 bodes well for number twelve.
• Well, this is what they were waiting for, right? North Side headed to Mississinewa on Thanksgiving Eve on really short notice, up against a team that won 19 games last season. North Side, if you remember, won just once in 2019-20. Simple logic dictates how this was going to go.
But you know, the Legends have been waiting for Brauntae Johnson for a reason. The freshman just went for 26 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and four assists in his high school debut. And all you silly football purists were thrilled over his football exploits. Maybe this is a good time to tell you, football is certainly his second best sport. Johnson is going to be a star, get used to him doing this and don’t be surprised if he has North Side back into title contention sooner or later.
There are plenty of experienced pieces in the North Side lineup, guys that are into their third year contributing. Ryan Collins hit five threes in the win over Mississinewa, Rodney Woods scored 13 points and Jordan Green had 10. It shouldn’t be overshadowed what a quality win this was for North Side, not just because of the opponent, but for the come up of their program. North Side is now 1-0 for the first time since 2017; in the time since, they had won just three total games.
• Who had Snider to be falling down the ladder in the SAC? Well it may be a couple of rungs, but the Panthers aren’t out of it by any stretch of the imagination. They stuck with and stuck to a really good Merrillville team on Saturday, picking up the win for the third straight season over a Pirates program that is always strong and aggressive.
Bounce got some heat this preseason for my ranking of Karson Jenkins and not ranking Aidan Lambert. I won’t name any names of potential assistant coaches anywhere, BUT I will remind you that we had Snider ranked as our #10 program overall. Time will tell how the Panthers trend, but game one is a critical success. One of my thoughts on Lambert in the preseason, despite a tremendous summer where he showcased his athleticism, was that I wanted to see how he was in major varsity minutes and he didn’t disappoint out of the gate with 27 points and nine rebounds. Jenkins too made the most of his expanded role with 26 points, five assists and three steals.
As Snider keeps pushing on with such a new look, also watch out for Elijah Brown. The sophomore had eight points to start the season but has a major athletic upside.
• It seems fair to place this here as I am focusing on two NE8 teams with what I’m saying. 2020 has been a mess. The 2020-21 basketball season has already followed suit with that. Cancellations, postponements, last second changes have and will continue to riddle schedules.
But it is refreshing when teams come to play because we really don’t know if or when this high school basketball season could be taken away. And don’t get Bounce wrong, I don’t want it taken away from me but this is all about the players and the kids playing the game. Last spring, some really talented seniors on the boys side saw their careers end in the middle of state title runs. Nobody wants to see that happen again. So while this is no knock on any team or athletic faculty, it is praise for teams who go out and play however they can for as long as they can. Huntington North’s girls went out on Tuesday and faced the area’s #1 team Homestead with the names of five varsity players crossed out in their book. Leo‘s boys traveled to South Side on Saturday also missing a slew of important pieces. They just wanted to play.
And there have been many others, I just wanted to mention those two because they were missing quite a bit against quality opponents. North Side boys opened their season on a day’s notice at Mississinewa just to get to play after their weekend game got cancelled. And there are so many other instances I am leaving out. But the point is, yay for the coaches and the administrators who are working their tails off to get the kids to play no matter what tough circumstances they may have to play under. End rant.
• Leo may have been massively shorthanded for their season opener on Saturday, but it didn’t really change the dynamic at the top. Blake Davison hit 11 of 14 shots, scored 30 points with 11 rebounds and the Lions pretty well rolled by South Side. The Archers used a big fourth quarter to get within 10 at the final buzzer, but it was mostly all Leo.
Leo came into the game without six varsity players in the lineup, but leaned on Davison, Zack Troyer (14 points, 10 rebounds) and DJ Allen as usual suspects. But credit to the other guys who stepped up, including Cameron Groves and Ayden Ruble who played composed in the starting lineup. Brayden Kennedy also stepped in to give quality moments and freshman Jackson McGee scored five points in the win. It says a lot about Leo’s future depth that they can have guys with little to no varsity experience step in and contribute in a variety of ways when needed against a quality opponent.
• As Chris Benedict patrolled the Whitko sideline on Wednesday at Columbia City, which had to have been odd, new Eagle coach Matt Schauss accomplished a unique feat. Schauss became the first Columbia City coach not named Benedict to beat Whitko in the past 30 seasons. Sure, Benedict himself was the coach at Columbia City for 18 of those seasons, but still unique none the less.
It was a fantastic night inside the new gym when Schauss’ Eagles took home the win. Mason Baker really impressed me with the depth in his game and what he has done since last season to improve, including 15 points on Wednesday night. He has a bigger frame, but somehow moves around so much better and his defense on Brett Sickafoose was huge throughout the game, especially in the second half. What has to get a little more credit is Andrew Hedrick, who really pulled up his boot straps after making a mental mistake on a play call out of a late timeout. Instead of letting it get to him, he executed perfectly on the final play and had plenty of room to knock down the game winner.
• DeKalb also made sure to show their strength in what looks to be a really deep NE8 conference. They beat Northrop on Wednesday; it was their first win over the Bruins since 2014. The traditional Thanksgiving Eve game saw Northrop battle back from a deep early deficit behind 24 points from Khamani Smith. But there just was zero match for Connor Penrod inside. In what could be a sign of things to come for every opponent this season, Penrod’s length and overpowering ability became a major concern.
While Penrod finished with a team best 22 points and nine rebounds and ever evolving Cole Richmond had 18 points and five rebounds, it was big three pointers from Nolan Nack that were the most clutch in closing out Northrop. Nack finished with 13 points and had many pointing to him as a bit of a savior in the 65-58 victory.
• The Karl Grau coaching era for Bluffton boys kicked off with a 1-1 record this week, but it was Hayden Nern who really seems to be out to make a point. Let’s not lie, there were some in Fort Wayne who questioned Nern’s high ranking in Bounce’s preseason Top 50. Why would a kid from Bluffton be so high? Do you have your answer now?
Nern just averaged 31 points and seven rebounds this week, while shooting 75 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from three point range. On Saturday, even though Bluffton lost to Blackford, it was Nern going make for make through the entire contest with Blackford’s scoring legend Luke Brown. He didn’t just hold his own, he played on Brown’s level including hitting four of six triples.
So probably stop doubting Hayden Nern? I did a long time ago.
• I had remark to me on Saturday that they forgot how much fun Connor Essegian and Sawyer Yoder are to watch. Well consider yourself reminded sir. The Central Noble Cougar duo started off a little slow on Saturday in their season opener against Canterbury, but eventually they exploded with scoring.
Yoder was throwing down dunks, Essegian was doing a little bit of everything and the Cougars eventually rolled by Canterbury 65-45 despite trailing after the first quarter. Essegian scored 31 points, using only one three pointer to get there, and is now fifth all time in Central Noble scoring while sitting just four points away from 22nd in Noble County history in scoring. Yoder finished with 18 points.
• Just like with football and girls hoops, don’t let Warsaw‘s distance from our Fort Wayne hub make you ignore how good the Tigers are. This week, they picked up wins over Indianapolis Shortridge and Warsaw to kick off their season. Luke Adamiec was 8 of 12 from the field with 17 points on Wednesday and the Tigers got scoring from eight guys in beating Shortridge. On Saturday, the Tigers held Columbia City’s Greg Bolt to just three points and beat the Eagles 50-45. This time, it was 12 points each from Ben Bergen and Judah Simfukwe that led a really balanced effort. Russ Winchester added seven rebounds on Saturday.
Another guy to watch: sophomore Jaxson Gould had a balanced effort against Shortridge with 10 points, seven assists, six rebounds and six steals. Warsaw is a team to keep an eye on, even if they don’t play in the four main area conferences.
Be sure to vote in this week’s FAN CHOICE for Performance of the Week poll.. 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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