With the end of the regular season looming in just a few days, Bounce thought we would take a different approach to this week’s power poll.
As every team in the area looks to the playoffs, the top squads around will need some big plays made by not just their stars, but also the guys who fly under the radar.
So this week, Bounce is highlighting those guys, the ones who deserve more attention.
No. 1 – HOMESTEAD
Records: 22-0 overall; 9-0 SAC; 5-0 vs. current Top 10
Unsung hero: Kaleb Kolpien
Everyone talks about Luke Goode, Fletcher Loyer and event Grant Simmons, but if Homestead is to keep its undefeated record intact through the 4A playoffs, it will need physicality in the post from guys like Kolpien.
The 6-foot-3 forward averages just 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, but it is his strength and toughness that are his greatest. Kolpien, along with Andrew Leeper, have been the quiet guys doing the muscle work in the post, something that will definitely come into play if the Spartans end up matching up against the likes of Carmel in regional play.
Best win: Lawrence North
No. 2 – BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN
Records: 20-3 overall; 4-1 vs. current Top 10
Unsung hero: Jacob Boyer
As a sophomore a year ago, Boyer showed flashes of his ability, but struggled to make a meaningful impact on the regular and looked like he needed a season of seasoning and an off-season of training to break through.
Enter this year, with Boyer averaging 8.7 points and six rebounds a contest. While the scoring has fallen off a bit of late, his court vision and ability to play big around the bucket has not. On a team with several scoring options, Boyer is that guy who can somehow be forgotten when defenders collapse down on Caleb Furst or close out on Zane Burke on the perimeter.
Keep an eye on Boyer throughout the 2A playoffs.
Best win: Attucks
No. 3 – CENTRAL NOBLE
Records: 22-1 overall; 9-1 NECC; 2-0 vs. current Top 10
Unsung hero: Ryan Schroeder
Connor Essegian gets the love for the Cougars, who have won 20 straight games and vault into the top 3 in Bounce’s Power Poll, the highest ranking of the year for the squad, but Schroeder deserves some recognition.
The best word to describe Schroeder is “scrappy.” The blue-collar kid brings a little bit of everything to the table and affects the game in a variety of different ways.
Schroeder makes things happen all over the floor, feeding the rock to Essegian and Sawyer Yoder in positions to succeed.
Best win: Churubusco (twice)
No. 4 – CARROLL
Records: 15-6 overall; 8-1 NECC; 3-2 vs. current Top 10
Unsung hero: Sam Strycker
The benefit of mostly-empty gymnasiums is that you get to hear players and coaches talking. Every time you watch Carroll, Strycker is the player you hear the most. The senior leads the huddle and is always helping call out things he identifies on the floor. His size at 6-4, 225 makes him a crucial piece of Carroll’s inside defense.
Strycker averages 10 points and six rebound per game, but his greatest asset may be his leadership on the floor. He has the confidence of head coach Marty Beasley to be that voice, something that is easily overlooked.
Best win: Yorktown
No. 5 – WARSAW
Records: 15-7 overall; 6-1 NLC; 0-2 vs. current Top 10
Unsung hero: Jackson Dawson
The 6-6 wing does a lot of his work inside the three-point arc, but first-year coach Matt Moore doesn’t look to the junior for consistent scoring. Instead, Dawson is that long body that can make things difficult for opposing teams in the passing lanes and the entry passes into the post.
Not only can Dawson clean the boards (4.9 rpg) and get on an occasional bucket (5.0 ppg), he sees the court exceptionally well and can make great passes when needed. He can sling the ball like a quarterback, which is fitting considering that is his position in the fall on the gridiron.
Best win: Northridge
No. 6 – LEO
Records: 18-3 overall; 7-0 NE8; 2-3 vs. current Top 10
Unsung hero: Xavier Middleton
Outside of Blake Davison, Middleton is Leo’s most consistent three-point threat and can take the defensive pressure away from the Lions’ top outside threat.
In addition, Middleton has a knack for rebounding, particularly on the offensive glass. That is saying something considering the height that Leo can employ in the post.
Leo has lost two of its last three but Bounce sees the Lions as the sectional favorite. Yes, even with Bishop Dwenger lurking.
Best win: Shenandoah
No. 7 – SNIDER
Records: 10-10 overall; 6-3 SAC; 2-5 vs. current Top 10
Unsung hero: Tylor Harding
The junior averages nearly 22 minutes per game but is scarcely mentioned outside of Snider. He is reliable, shows up every day with a positive attitude and gives 100 percent effort every day. Those sound like clichés, but coaches value those attributes as much as they do top scorers.
Harding averages just under six points and three rebounds a game, but he is adept at making the extra pass and he speaks up when necessary, a commanding presence in the huddle that is unique for a junior. He is also hitting 40 percent from three, making him a deadly threat if defenses sag off of him.
Best win: North Side
No. 8 – NORTH SIDE
Records: 12-9 overall; 5-4 SAC; 3-4 vs. current Top 10
Unsung hero: Rodney Woods
Woods has missed time this season, but when he is on the floor, North Side is on another level.
With Woods, the Legends have lost to only Homestead, Blackhawk Christian, Carroll and Marion, and North was up 17-3 on the Giants before Woods sprained his ankle.
Woods, a junior, averages 9.8 points and seven rebounds a game. But he doesn’t have to score in bunches to showcase his value. He is the best on the team at establishing position for rebounds, he defends well, can handle the ball on the break and he plays hard all the time.
Best win: Churubusco
No. 9 – BISHOP DWENGER
Records: 11-9 overall; 4-5 SAC; 1-5 vs. current Top 10
Unsung hero: C.J. Pieper
A junior workhorse for the Saints, Pieper is your prototypical Bishop Dwenger player that isn’t flashy or overpowering, but makes things happen with his effort, desire and improving skill set.
Like Brenden Lytle now and previous Saints stalwarts like Campbell Donovan and Sam Royal, Pieper brings the intangibles to a group that is peaking at just the right time.
Best win: Leo
No. 10 – CHURUBUSCO
Records: 16-4 overall; 7-2 NECC; 2-2 vs. current Top 10
Unsung hero: Luke McClure
Forget the mullet for a second (although that already clinches it for McClure). The senior is the sidekick to Jackson Paul and Laden Jordan, the two prolific upperclassmen for the Eagles.
McClure is the forgotten one in many instances. He can knock down a three (and do some talking while he is out of it), find the open guy with a slick pass and put pressure on the ball in Churubusco’s hurry-up style.
Paul provides the moxie and the moves while Jordan is a stud in the post, but it is McClure that makes it all run like a well-oiled machine.
Best win: Snider
IN THE ARGUMENT (in no particular order)
New Haven 13-7
Huntington North 11-6
South Adams 14-8
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