Outside the Huddle’s resident frog Bounce is previewing every area sectional and giving our thoughts on who to watch.
We continue our look at Class 4A with the sectional at East Noble.
The Chargers do not have an easy road to a sectional title, but they still remain the favorite in Bounce’s mind.
Chances are, Carroll will have to beat three SAC teams to advance to regional – two of which believe they should have taken down the Chargers in the regular season in North Side and Snider.
Even with three consecutive losses to end the regular season, Coach Marty Beasley’s team will be prepared this week. A brutal February schedule is exactly what Beasley likes for his teams, throwing everything at his squad in preparation for the playoffs.
Jalen Jackson is the leading scorer for the Chargers and the team has plenty of talent and offensive ammunition. But the defensive side of the ball is where Carroll sets itself apart.
Winners of nine of their last 10 games, the Legends have seemingly hit their stride at the right time.
While North has a reasonably young roster, some experienced players like junior Rodney Woods and senior Isaiah Moore have come up big in key moments.
The Legends are a team that want another shot at Carroll, as the Chargers were able to fight back from eight points down and win late on some heroics by Ryan Preston.
Another team that feels like it had Carroll on the ropes, the Panthers led by as many as 14 points in the first half against the Chargers, but let them escape.
When on, Snider is as good of a team in the area from three-point range – that includes Homestead. The Panthers have launched 555 three-point shots on the season, with three different players having hit 30 or more triples.
The issue for Snider has been the inability to put together a full 32 minutes of basketball. If it can do that this week, it can win this sectional.
The Bruins limp into the playoffs having lost eight of their last 10 games, including a 23-point loss to the first-round foe – Carroll.
Yet this team has shown potential. During a four-game winning streak in January, Northrop was able to knock off the likes of North Side (13 wins) and Bellmont (15 wins). So the Bruins have proven it can make plays and win games over solid foes.
Another team that has struggled of late, with the Knights having just one win in the month of February.
The draw was kind to East Noble, giving it a bye and the winner of Snider and DeKalb. But the Knights lost to both by double digits in the regular season, so outside of a significant turnaround, it will be tough to make it to Saturday’s final.
The Barons have had their moments this year, not just with wins but also battling good teams to the end like Leo, Bellmont and New Haven.
The problem this week is that DeKalb lost by 27 to Snider, its first-round foe on Tuesday to kick off this sectional.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jaylen Jackson, Carroll: A change-of-pace player to Carroll’s typical deliberate style, Jackson is Carroll’s leading scorer and best playmaker. The junior’s best asset is that he is big time in the big games – dropping 36 against North Central, 35 against Snider and 22 against Homestead.
Tae Johnson, North Side: As electrifying as he is on the football field, the freshman Johnson is even more smooth and impressive on the basketball court. Johnson’s transition game is exceptional and he seems to float in the air on his take to the hoop. As the Legends’ leading scorer, he is counted on to stretch a defense and get to the free throw line, where he hits at a 74 percent clip.
Jade Moore, Snider: The Panthers have a plentiful supply of long-range snipers. One that doesn’t get as much respect as Karson Jenkins is Moore, who is shooting 45 percent from three on 155(!) attempts. The senior has hit four or more three-pointers in a game nine times this season, including finishing an astounding 9-of-13 from range against Marion in the regular-season finale.
SECTIONAL 5 AT EAST NOBLE
Carroll (15-6) vs. Northrop (6-12), 6 p.m.
DeKalb (9-10) vs. Snider (10-10), 8 p.m.
North Side (12-9) vs. Carroll/Northrop, 6 p.m.
East Noble (8-14) vs. DeKalb/Snider, 8 p.m.
Championship, 7 p.m.