Another weekend ends, another fun day with Bounce.
Some weeks, my Sunday column will be two and we will separate the boys and girls from each other. But some weeks, like this week, we will have a longer Sunday column that touches on both.
Let’s do it!
STATEMENTS MADE FOR TOP BOYS TEAMS
Statement #1 comes from a team that hasn’t been our #1 area team in terms of power polls this season. Central Noble got themselves involved with the Tipoff Classic at Southport for a reason. This Cougar team was ready to prove that they could compete at a high level with their Mr. Basketball candidate. So a dominating win over Class 1A top-ranked Barr-Reeve (also the defending 1A state champs) is just the cherry on top. Connor Essegian had another high level game. with 25 points and eight rebounds, and there has to be major credit to Logan Gard, who hit 9 of the 10 shots he took with 20 points.
Someone close to Bounce posed this question to me on Saturday: are the Cougars a legit state title contender? Their Sectional And Regional are no joke, but after Saturday, we have to think that Central Noble, rightfully, has the state’s attention.
Make no mistake though, our usual #1 team made a statement too, something they keep doing this season. Homestead‘s win over Westfield was a big one Saturday but bigger with two guys with 20-plus points. We know that Fletcher Loyer (22 points) is always going to get his. He is one of the most top end scorers in the state, but if Andrew Leeper (20 points) can continue that pace, this Spartan team looks really hard to beat.
Blackhawk Christian‘s win over Lafayette Central Catholic was big too as we saw Lewis Jones lead a balanced scoring effort for the first time this season.
Leo didn’t have to wow much in their lone game of the week, but they beat Bishop Luers by 37 with just a tough hard pace. Kudos to Luers for doing the best job this season at trying to slow Caedmon Bontrager down low. I thought that the Knights were more than admirable with how they played on Bontrager. All season, the down low play of he and DJ Allen has helped Leo out of any funk they have been in. To beat Luers, although Bontrager still played very well and got to the line a lot, Leo needed some other scorers to shine. They ended Tuesday night being led by 14 points each from Brody Hiteshew and Luke Lagrange. Leo is still unbeaten on the year, getting statewide acknowledgment in the process, but if they can push that scoring depth and guys keep stepping up, Leo is going to end up much better than anyone may have thought they’d be.
TOP END GIRLS TEAMS THRIVE
Homestead did what they do this week, but it was highlighted by Ayanna Patterson nearly throwing down a two handed dunk on a breakaway against Bishop Dwenger on Friday. I don’t know if everyone understands how monumental it would be for area basketball and area girls basketball if Patterson can finish one of those this season. She had her best statistical game of the season, but that moment, it causes goosebumps for me. She is soooooo close.
Oh yeah, the Spartans also spent the week beating Class 3A powerhouse South Bend Washington. So while Patterson almost made an individual statement, that team statement against South Bend was a lot louder.
Garrett and Columbia City both scored major wins by beating Norwell this weekend. The Knights are not an easy out ever, any season. So for both of those teams to pick up 20-plus point wins against Norwell is pretty monumental itself. Morgan Ostrowski had a monster week for Garrett, especially against Norwell with her 23 points and 12 rebounds in that one. But Norwell doesn’t lose by 20 much and the last time that two teams did it it back to back games was 2016 with losses to Homestead and Bishop Dwenger.
For Snider this past week, things started strong with a dominating performance over a solid Angola team. Just another win to solidify that any early struggles this season for Snider were just that. And this isn’t early anymore, hence a lack of struggle. Despite shooting 1 of 8 from the foul line in the first half against the Hornets, Snider still had a 31 point lead. Jyah LoVett, who is clearly becoming one of the best area scorers, had 20 in the first half alone and finished with a game high 24.
Don’t forget that Carroll had a big week too. Their win over Warsaw was an assertive one that shows how high end that the Chargers can play. But perhaps more interesting was Taylor Fordyce‘s 22 points Friday in the win over Concordia because it is one of the few times we have see that Carroll can have a high end scorer. Most of the year, we’ve seen balance in their scoring but sometimes you just need someone to step up and score bigger.
THE CITY’S TWO OLDEST SCHOOLS
It was somewhat shocking that North Side and South Side headed into Friday’s rivalry doubleheader with a combined four team basketball record of just 1-19. But it really seems the weekend could have been the catalyst both teams needed.
North Side girls came in with the only program win after beating New Haven earlier in the week. The Legends are working to rebuild their program so that first win was crucial. Kaleah Williams‘ 21 points and 6 rebounds led the Legends in the win over the Bulldogs before falling to South on Friday.
The South Side girls hit some major milestones on Friday against their rivals. Juanita Goodwell coached her 303rd game with the Archers, which according to the school makes her, unofficially, second among South Side basketball coaches in games they have been on the sideline for. Senior Olivia Smith entered the night just 12 points away from hitting the 1,000 point mark for her career and hit that mark in South Side’s first girls hoops win of the season. Smith ended with 31 points in the win over North Side.
On Friday, in the boys game for the Reichert-Hey Trophy, it was Ashton Johnson getting in the last laugh of his career against the Archers’ rival. South picked up their first boys win of the season too by dispatching North Side. Omarion Washington continued to be a name we should be watching as he more than carried his weight with 25 points.
North Side bounced back on Saturday with their first win of the season, beating Marion. Along the way, we got to see one of those elite games from Brauntae Johnson, who was just three assists shy of a triple double with 30 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, while adding four blocks. Brashawn Bassett too was at the top of his game with 17 points while Jordan Green added 10 points and 8 rebounds. While on the subject of North, even though it was in a losing effort on Friday, how about Rodney Woods throwing down the poster jam of the year so far? The Legends have struggled in the win-loss column but make no mistake, when things are running on all cylinders, they remain of the most dangerous teams in the area.
Logan Brace had 13 rebounds in a loss to Dekalb on Saturday. He now sits 3rd all-time at Fremont in rebounding with 500 in his career. He sits 99 rebounds away from Mike Sellers as the program’s all-time leading rebounder….I can’t let another week pass by without mentioning Prairie Heights junior Chase Bachelor. At 21.2 points per game through his first five games, he has been one of the best scorers in the area. Bachelor was a freshman two years ago on that high end Panthers team and has been baptized by fire in his career. Keep him on your radar….Speaking of big scorers in the NECC, Ben Keil of Lakeland could make some games interesting down the stretch. While his stats weren’t in for us to include him in the Performance of the Week poll, he had big back to back games with 35 and 24 points this week.
Despite Warsaw‘s close loss to Carroll on Wednesday, you have to. be impressed by Abby Sanner, who had arguably the best double double of the season. Sanner scored 21 points and totaled 19 rebounds…Sydney Gorman of Wayne had 21 points against Whitko by tying the program record with seven made three pointers.
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