BOUNCE: What you need to take away from the prep hoops week of February 15-21

Carroll’s Jalen Jackson scores during February 19’s game against Homestead. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

OVERLOOK DWENGER AT YOUR OWN RISK

Seeing is often believing. And its become clear that not enough people have seen the Bishop Dwenger Saints this year because there was a lot of doubt about them coming into this week. But boy did they ever respond.

It was one of the best weeks of any single team this season as the Saints started the week by knocking off the #3 team in our area, Leo, on Wednesday. Not only did Bishop Dwenger beat them, they did it impressively and overwhelmingly for parts of the game. The Lions made a comeback as we knew they would, but Dwenger held strong. More impressive that their double digit early lead was the ability to hang on at the end of the game.

A lot of guys stepped up in that win and not just names like Brenden Lytle, Owen Shively and Xavier Nolan that we are used to. The play down the stretch against Leo of CJ Pieper, Sam Campbell and Preston Ross was impressive. Lytle finished with 22 points and six steals while Pieper had 14 points, going 10 of 10 from the free throw line.

The team parlayed that momentum into a Friday night game with Northrop that went down to the wire. Right until the end of regulation when Pieper intentionally missed the second of his free throws in the closing seconds, down two points. Pieper then rebounded his own miss and put it back to tie the game and force overtime, where the Saints would close out Northrop.

On Saturday, it was more of the same as they pushed by New Haven for another signature win and their third overall victory of the week. Lytle again led the way with 13 points in the low scoring 49-43 win. Joe Kelly was the player to step up in this one, tallying a career high 10 points.

Carroll’s Taylor Fordyce drives by a Crown Point player during February 20’s Class 4A semi state game at LaPorte.

WRAPPING UP GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON

Girls basketball season has officially come to an end as Norwell and Carroll‘s seasons ended on Saturday at LaPorte.

This has been a wild and seemingly quick season for all of high school basketball and it makes sense that the two teams who were the top two teams early stayed the course and were the last two to finish the season. Norwell and Carroll were the class of the area and as sad as it is to see them both fall short, it is great to have area teams back into the semi state round after last season’s absence.

The most impressive part though is that these two programs are built to sustain. Norwell has some rebuilding to do because of how much they leaned on this senior class for four seasons. But the foundation is there in what coach Eric Thornton does. So when you look at handing the reigns to Kennedy Fuelling, Mackinzie Toliver and Skyla Tomasek, there is a lot of confidence that they will be well prepared to handle the weight of being the hunted in the Northeast 8.

The same can be said for Carroll despite also losing longtime value in Emily Parrett and Delane Sheets. Coach Mark Redding‘s style, which also includes sometimes using those hockey style subs/line changes, means that plenty of different girls get court time. They don’t just go out there to linger, they go to contribute. So while replacing those two isn’t easy, Carroll returns six huge pieces next season as they try to repeat their success and maybe even make it that extra step.

Outside the Huddle will wrap up girls basketball season in the coming weeks with Bounce’s personal awards conference by conference. We will also present you the chance to vote, as always, to pick YOUR Player of the Year. Finally, we will close the season with the official Outside the Huddle picks for Player of the Year and Coach of the Year. Watch for that schedule coming out soon.

Norwell’s Skyla Tomasek curls under a South Bend Washington defender during February 20’s Class 3A semi state game at LaPorte.

CENTRAL NOBLE’S LAYOFF RESPONSE

Central Noble had to take on every team’s worst nightmare at this point in the season as we heads towards the postseason: a 16 day layoff.

They returned from that break on Wednesday against Whitko. It was a banner night for the Cougars who showed little rust in topping the Wildcats behind Connor Essegian‘s 28 points. But the biggest moment of the night came from Sawyer Yoder, along his way to a 20 point outing. Yoder scored his 1,000th career point with a three point in the second half. Yoder has become the ninth Central Noble basketball player to ever surpass 1,000 career points and the fifth in the past four seasons.

The Cougars then turned around on Friday to beat Fremont behind Essegian’s 31 points, beat Lakeland on Saturday morning with Essegian’s 25 and Yoder’s 23 and finally beat Prairie Heights on Saturday night as Essegian scored another 25.

Four days, four games, four wins. That is uniquely impressive even if there hasn’t been a half a month layoff beforehand. Saturday, getting two wins in the NECC was huge. Two game days don’t happen unless you are in a tournament or a shootout. Central Noble just did it with regular season wins and I am incredibly impressed as this team pushes towards the postseason. Central Noble is incredibly dangerous and when you factor in that Essegian scored 109 points just in the last four days, he is certainly in the argument as the best player in the area right now.

Blackhawk Christian’s Zane Burke scores during February 20’s game at Indianapolis Crispus Attucks. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

MOVING UP THE RANKS ALL-TIME

Brayden Bontrager stands alone at the top of Lakeland boys basketball scoring. He inched closer on Wednesday, moving into 12th all-time in LaGrange County with his performance against Churubusco. In the second quarter of Thursday’s game against Northridge, Bontrager became the program’s top scoring boys basketball player ever.

Just into the second quarter, Bontrager hit a three pointer to surpass brother Camron Bontrager‘s program record. Brayden Bontrager moved to 1,529 career points and had the chance to celebrate on his home court with his family, including his brother. Bontrager finished the night with a game high 31 points despite Lakeland falling to Northridge in overtime. He added to his total on senior night Friday with 23 more points.

Also on Thursday, Naylon Thompson became the second best scorer in Bishop Luers history. That is quite the treat when you think about all of the great players the Knights have had in the past 15 years.

Thompson surpassed Evan Blackmon for second on that great Knights list and will sit behind first place Deshaun Thomas. Certainly, nobody is going to be passing Thomas’ 3,018 points anytime soon, but second is a great place to settle into. Thompson left the game sitting at 1,319 points for his career after scoring 16 points.

Norwell’s Kaylee Fuelling drives to the rim during February 20’s Class 3A semi state game against South Bend Washington, played at LaPorte.

APPETIZERS

Woodlan‘s Joe Reidy had a standout week, again. He scored 20 points, had 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 blocks on Wednesday in a 50-42 win over South Adams. On Friday, he turned around with 33 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks and 4 steals in a 64-50 win over Adams Central….Thomas Latham surpassed 1,000 career points on Friday in New Haven‘s 89-56 win over Heritage. Latham is now the sixth leading scorer in New Haven history….Despite a pair of losses on Friday/Saturday, Carroll‘s Jalen Jackson had a great weekend. He scored 22 in the loss to Homestead Friday and turned around to score 36 on Saturday in a loss to North Central.


VOTE

Get your FAN VOTE in for the top boys basketball performance of the past week.

Which semi state performance on the girls side was the best of the week? Vote 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

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