BOUNCE: What you need to take away from the prep hoops week of February 1-6

Blackhawk Christian’s Gage Sefton throws down a dunk during February 6’s game against Indianapolis Tindley. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

Bounce is taking a bit of a different approach this week. Because, well it is was a different week. The boys games were sparse compared to usual but full of big moments, great plays and perhaps some conference clarity along the way. Most of the week was focused on the girls and Sectional basketball, which now leaves just eight area teams left playing.

For a complete recap of girls Sectional scores and stats from the week, click here.

So instead of going conference by conference this week, I am going to look in at some of the moments instead as I break things down.


Saturday day was a day for buzzer beaters, if you like that sort of thing.

It started at Hamilton Southeastern where the Royals gave the state’s top ranked team, Homestead, fits throughout and kept the game close despite some really good overall player from Luke Goode and Grant Simmons. For every Homestead basket late in the fourth from the Spartans, the home team had an answer. It also got Hamilton Southeastern the ball with 5.9 seconds left, tied at 53 and going for the win.

But Homestead is number one for a reason and they continued to prove that. As Hamilton Southeastern worked for a sideline inbounds, Fletcher Loyer stepped in and just overpowered a Royal player to take the ball away. In the process, Loyer got bodied toward the sideline and had the presence of mind to take a timeout right in front of the Homestead bench. Chris Johnson then drew something up and the Spartans executed with Simmons finding Goode on an inbounds pass that saw the Illinois commit bury a triple from the near corner. Game over and Homestead stays the last unbeaten in the state and a clear number one team.

Goode finished with 21 points while Simmons had 18. Loyer, who scored just 11 while struggling with his shot most of the game, deserves tons of praise for his defensive workhorse effort on that final play. The 19-0 start ties the record for the best start in program history as well as tying the mark for most consecutive wins in program history. It was the 700th win in the history of Homestead basketball.

Oh and that shot, just #1 on SportsCenter’s top plays of the day.

Less than an hour later, back in our area, Leo had led Carroll for basically the entirety of the game but the Chargers had willed themselves back into it late. It set up a situation with two seconds to go where Leo had to go full court to try and score to win the game. Worse case scenario, they would head to overtime and try to win it there.

Zack Troyer made the long pass to DJ Allen on the far free throw line where Allen tip passed it to a cutting Ayden Ruble, who avoided the Sam Strycker defense and laid it in to win the game for the Lions, who remain with just one blemish on their own record.

Leo coach Cary Cogdell would not confirm, nor deny, to Outside the Huddle if the play was something he drew up to work that way or if it was just execution from his team. And it doesn’t really matter, does it? It got the job done and Leo has arguably their most marquee win of the season.

Davison led Leo with eight points and four steals while Carson Hart also scored eight.

Angola’s Kylie Caswell takes the ball strong to the rim during February 6’s Class 3A Sectional title game against Garrett. (Photo by Steve Bowen/Bowen Arrow Photography)


Saturday night concluded a heck of a redemption arc for the Angola girls. Two seasons ago, they were literally an overtime session away from getting to the semi state round. If it hadn’t been for Marion’s 6-foot-6 center RaShaya Kyle, the night Regional game at Columbia City in 2019 belonged to the Hornets and Hanna Knoll‘s (then) best game of her career.

They fell short. So 2020 was the makeup year. And then they fell shorter, losing in a bit of a shocker on Sectional opening night to Concordia Lutheran.

Both seasons, they graduated a lot of talent and after last season, coach Brandon Appleton left to coach the school’s boys. Bring in Nick Burlingame and a learning curve to start the 2020-21 season. It wasn’t a bad start by any means, just a learning curve of a new coach and a lot of really talented freshmen finding their roles in the program. The Hornets started 2-2 and then 5-3 with a loss to Garrett mixed in that immediately had them on their heels in the NECC. Instead of falling backwards, they dug those heels in and after the 5-3 start, they won 11 in a row including the NECC Tournament.

But they headed into a tough Sectional off two straight losses, forced to dig in their heels again. And did they ever. The Hornets opened the week vanquishing the demon that was that Concordia loss a year ago, blowing by the Cadets in the first game of Sectional play on Tuesday. Then on Saturday night they beat Garrett again and it won them a Sectional title to get right back to the Regional round and a highly anticipated meeting with Norwell that was supposed to be played early in the season but never materialized in the world of reschedules.

The arc of redemption has been solid for the Hornets. No matter what Saturday’s Regional brings this time around, Knoll and her team have certainly made their mark that nothing can keep Angola girls basketball down for long.

RELATED BOUNCE: Angola girls win Class 3A Sectional title.

Garrett’s Morgan Ostrowski goes up for a shot during a February 6 game against Angola in the Class 3A Sectional final. (Photo by Steve Bowen/Bowen Arrow Photography)


There is always a lot to say about Blackhawk Christian. They remain the favorites in Class 2A as we rocket towards the postseason. And that is something most would say about them solely based on their powerful front line of Caleb Furst, Zane Burke and Marcus Davidson. But the Braves have never succeeded just based on heavy top end success and this year has been no different with Callan Wood shooting the ball so well and Jacob Boyer stepping up to be a vital catalyst on both ends of the court.

But could sophomore Gage Sefton end up being the most valuable piece as they chase down another state title?

Sefton showed, even in super limited time last year as a freshman, that he has some very useable skill. It got him some spot time this season up until the Hall of Fame Classic where he was brought in as a solid defender and reliable ball handler. Since then, his confidence has clearly soared and so has his game. He came out with 16 points on Thursday in a win against South Side and then really shined again on Saturday in a Braves win over visiting Indianapolis Tindley. On Saturday, Sefton scored an again team second best 16 points and is really thriving in the Blackhawk Christian offense right now.

Can you imagine? Blackhawk Christian with another high level threat offensively? Would make most opponents weep. Sefton has all of the tools to be one of the next stars for the Braves. In the coming years, he will be tasked with leading in the transition away from this loaded senior class. But we are talking now and right now, Gage Sefton’s emergence in this lineup makes the Braves even scarier as how do you confidently and consistently guard every single one of these guys on the same night. Sefton’s game is smooth and fluid and that has and will continue to cause big problems for remaining Blackhawk Christian opponents.

Furst had another fantastic game himself Saturday against Tindley with 20 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks.

Blackhawk Christian coach Marc Davidson talks to his team during a timeout of February 6’s game against Indianapolis Tindley. (Photo by Leverage Photography)


Teams really are taking their best shot at Westview down the stretch of the season, but the Warriors aren’t budging. This week it was West Noble‘s turn as they got to host the NECC leader and just like Eastside the week before, pushed them into overtime.

But overtime, as it turns out, may be exactly where Westview wants to be. Oddly, the Warriors turn it up to another level when they get there. With their solo conference title hopes hanging in the balance, Westview just keeps pushing by in the extra session. On Wednesday, they went to overtime tied at 49, only to come out with a 60-56 win.

Things weren’t always beautiful in how Westview was executing but they would never let the Chargers put them away. There were chances, there really were, but Westview created chaos when they needed to. Isn’t that the standard for a champion anyway? A team that can step up when it matters most? The Warriors finished up their NECC slate with ninth place Prairie Heights and eighth place Fremont. The NECC has only been one outright by an undefeated in conference team 27 times in the past 55 seasons; 14 of those belong to Westview.

Mason Yoder again led the Warriors in the win over West Noble with 22 points while Brady Yoder added 16.

South Side’s Olivia Smith drives between Homestead defenders during February 6’s Class 4A Sectional title game. (Photo by Leslie Palmer)


I’ve said it before, you can’t afford to take a day off in the ACAC. With only six conference games, one loss could take away the conference.

After Saturday, Heritage now controls the ACAC after beating Bluffton to improve to 5-0. The Patriots, a still rather young team, are now guaranteed at least a share of the conference title with Jay County being the only conference game left on the schedule. The win came after another outstanding game form Luke Saylor, who finished with 28 points while Kiel Eldridge added a double double of 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Patriots got a little help from sometimes rival Woodlan. The Warriors showed up on Saturday and delivered a blow to Jay County’s title hopes on the stable hands of Joe Reidy. The Woodlan junior scored 29 points and had 10 rebounds in handing Jay County their first conference loss of the season.

It now comes down to Heritage, Jay County and South Adams with title hopes. If Heritage beats Jay County on Friday then nothing else will matter. But at 3-1 in conference, Jay County could still force a shared title if they can win outright. South Adams will need to win out as well as they are just 1-1 in the conference. But it also means that we won’t have a three way tie as the Starfires and Jay County play as well.

It may seem confusing, but it’s simple for Heritage. Win Friday and its all yours. Lose and then let Jay County and South Adams duke it out to try and share the prize with Heritage.

Homestead’s Ayanna Patterson takes the ball to the basket during February 6’s Class 4A Sectional final against South Side. (Photo by Leslie Palmer)


Blackhawk Christian has now won back to back Sectional titles for the first time in program history and has set a program record with 19 wins on the season. We knew what the Braves were capable of when this season started and they were getting in more games than everyone else. They were also one of the first teams to double digit wins this season.

• The NECC sends three teams to the Regional round, the most of any area conference although it had to cannibalize itself some to make it happen. The night started with seven NECC teams vying for titles with Prairie Heights and Garrett falling to conference foes in the finals.

Still, to send three to the next round is a great accomplishment and something that this stellar conference can really hang their hat on. Fairfield‘s quick return to Regionals after playing so close to getting to a state finals in 2018 is a fantastic quick rise back to the top of the heap. And Lakeland getting that first title since 1996 is a major deal. This Lakeland team basically had to get through a NECC gauntlet and beat a defending state champion to claim their crown and do so without one of their best players. As for Angola? Well, see above.

Bluffton has set the best four years in program history now by winning three of the last four Sectionals and being there in the finals every single year along that timeline. The Tigers senior class has been a big boost for this school and Emme Boots has now won three Sectional titles as a starter, which is monumental.

Norwell had their work cut out for them on Saturday. Why? Well because Bellmont is never going to give an inch at Norwell. Now the Knights head back to the Regional round where they may as well just set up a tent. Maiah Shelton broke the program’s single game scoring record on Wednesday and this senior class is poised to continue an amazing run.

And how about the Spartans. Down year for Homestead girls? Yes. Bad start to a championship game? Sure thing. But they then held South Side scoreless in the third and Ayanna Patterson has been every bit of as dominant as she is expected to be. So no matter how “down” this year was for Homestead, the Spartans are still playing on Regional Saturday. Could we see a rematch with Carroll? They both have to get to the Regional night game, but I’d like to see round two of that for sure. The Chargers got their five peat by beating Snider for the second time in as many weeks.

For a complete recap of girls Sectional scores and stats from the week, click here.

Blackhawk Christian celebrates their Class 1A Sectional title on February 6 at Fremont. (Photo by Leverage Photography)


This week we bid farewell to Concordia girls coach Dave Miller. Miller was a staple of girls basketball in this area and in the SAC. He was the longest tenured SAC coach in terms of how long he had been in the conference. Congrats on a great career coach, enjoy the retired life away from the court….Aiden Fetters continues to be strong after his return to the Lakewood Park lineup. He led the Panthers with 26 points on Friday in a close loss to Lakeland Christian….Will Shank returned for Canterbury on Saturday after hand surgery had him miss most of the season. He scored 22 points, had eight rebounds and seven assists in a loss to Fremont….Congrats to New Haven coach Bruce Stephens, who picked up career win 100 on Saturday in a win over Huntington North.


Don’t forget to vote for the best single game performance of girls basketball Sectional week by clicking here.

You can also vote on the top individual boys basketball performance of the week here.

These opinions represent those of Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH


  1. It was a great finish for Leo…but it was Zack Troyer who made that full court pass…not Blake Davison. Great win!

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