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 ladies did this holiday week.
• It seems fair to make this point 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 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.
• For the Norwell girls to avoid losing their first game Tuesday, they had to hand Concordia their first loss. That was something that was always going to be easier said than done because of how good Concordia has been, especially on the interior. That didn’t change this week with Chanteese Craig scoring 21 points with 13 rebounds and three blocks agains the Knights. But Norwell swung back with aggressive rebounding and intensity at the rim.
The Knights still didn’t win the rebound war, but got five from Skyla Tomasek, six from Kaylee Fuelling, seven from Maiah Shelton and 12 monster rebounds from Grace Bradtmueller. Norwell did what they had to do in the game, weren’t afraid to attack the rim but also knew when to withdraw and take some shots from deep to keep Concordia off balance. Arguably, this could have been the best game so far in this young season and coming out on top is great for Norwell’s momentum.
• While the big game this week on the girls side of Jay County and Woodlan is off because of Warrior players in quarantine, it was refreshing to see South Adams get over the hump and beat Leo. After losing two games by a total of seven points, it is always nice to see a team get in that win column,
“We got off to a quick start tonight. The girls were aggressive on both ends of the floor. Offensively, we were attacking the basket and moving the ball really well. Defensively, our pressure was giving them problems. The girls were doing a great job anticipating. I was really pleased to see us finish the game out and get the win,” Starfire coach Brett Freeman said in his post game e-mail. “We’ve played good enough to win in every game, but had a few things that cost us. We still have plenty of room for improvement. I know we’ll work hard moving forward to tighten things up and get better.”
Each game, it has been interesting to see how much better freshman Macy Pries is getting. A year ago, it was Peyton Pries who was one of the ACAC’s breakout players. Now Macy is pacing the way most games and had 18 points in the win over Leo; though Peyton did add 13 points. Must be something in the water.
• Elsewhere in the ACAC, we got to see a full strength Adams Central and there have to be some teams in the conference that were hoping that wouldn’t happen for a while. McKenna Dietsch returned on Saturday from injury and casually pumped in 18 points with three steals in a win over Southern Wells. But, we all knew she was going to do that, didn’t we?
What makes the Flying Jets substantially more dangerous at this juncture is how much everyone else has gotten better in her absence. Sage Hammond had 15 points, seven rebounds and five steals in the win and the overall scoring is pretty spread out. Adams Central took some losses without Dietsch in the lineup, but could those few games of extra work for her teammates have helped out in the long run?
• My word, let’s take another moment to appreciate Taylor Gerke‘s work for Garrett. There were so many good things to look back on in Tuesday’s win over Angola. Yes, it established an early lead in the NECC by beating a team that just doesn’t lose NECC games. Yes, the Railroaders’ front five we very balanced in most areas.
But offensively, Gerke just had her way and did pretty much whatever she wanted. Her momentum getting to the rim was unstoppable and if Angola didn’t want her to hit a layup, they had to foul her. She just put those freebies from the line away too. She coasted out, spread the floor and hit big triples. She had a pair of steals, a trio of rebounds and four really nice assists, hitting her teammates in stride time after time.
When you return what Garrett returned, you don’t expect the newbie to just expose the defending champs like she did. Gerke is officially another major threat in the Garrett lineup and not just a small one either.
But Garrett wasn’t done with a big win against the other top team in the NECC. On Saturday, they went a little wild against Prairie Heights. Bailey Kelham finished that game with 31 points after hitting six three pointers, Faith Owen added 17 with five more threes and Morgan Ostrowski blocked five shots. The big news coming out of Saturday’s win though was Nataley Armstrong, who registered 13 more assists in the contest. Armstrong now has 294 career assists, as just a junior, becoming the school’s all-time assist leader in the game.
• What if I told you that Angola girls basketball was going to be just fine? Yes, a loss to Garrett on Tuesday was a setback in attempting to defend their NECC title, but there was a lot good to look at. Hanna Knoll was Hanna Knoll, hit big shots and lead them offensively. Megan Nisun showed a lot of aggression to battle against Garrett’s own aggression. And the Hornets are relying a lot on a young group, a group that is going to make some mistake and take some bad shots. But that same group learned even as the game went along. Although Garrett posted a sizable lead early, Angola kept it even the rest of the way.
This is a very tenacious team. And pairing a large group of underclassmen with championship level, experienced juniors and seniors may take some time to meld. But we haven’t seen the last of Angola versus Garrett I don’t think. While the Railroaders looked like a well oiled machine, the idea that Angola won’t get there too is just ludicrous. Rounds 2 and 3 coming up in the conference tournament and Sectional rounds? Probably count on that.
Wayne’s Emilia Diaz registered 7 steals on Tuesday in a loss to defending co-NE8 champion Columbia City…. At 7-1, the Blackhawk Christian girls have already tied or surpassed their win total from four different seasons out of the last 10….New Haven girls hoops got their first win of the season on Tuesday over unbeaten and ranked Bluffton, 44-40….Chloe Jolloff posted her second triple double IN A ROW on Tuesday with 31 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a Lakewood Park win over North Side….Jay County‘s Madisen Dirksen recorded a 28 point/11 rebounds game on Friday in a 59-55 win over Winchester….Meghan Kiebel (24 points) and Madi Vice (23 points) had their best career games on Saturday for Central Noble in a win over Whitko.
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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