BOUNCE: What you need to take away from the prep hoops week of December 20-23

Eastside’s Gabe Trevino goes up for a shot during a December 23 game against Heritage in the old Eastside gym. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

So this is a weird time and a weird week. But still Bounce will press on with his final weekly column of 2021.

Wait, how is it the end of 2021?


On December 23, Eastside gave us all a throwback in time as they hosted Heritage for a girl-boy double header inside the confines of the old Eastside gym. There is something fun about stepping back in time to play in this gym. so it is always really cool when Eastside does so.

If you have never been in this gym, but are the type that would rave about the old Hoosiers gym in Knightstown, then you are missing out. Thursday’s festivities included a lot of fun whether it was the throwback type including an Elvis impersonator singing the national anthem or honoring the school’s baseball team from their state finalist finish last spring/summer.

The games? Those were good too. The Eastside girls picked up a blowout 66-30 win led by Skye Kessler. It was the Blazers’ sixth win in a row, which is critical as they head towards the impending NECC Tournament. Luck and skill always play a part of in season conference tournaments, but so too does momentum. This win and the diversity that Eastside has found lately in scoring is big.

Eastside boy’s win in the old gym improves the Blazers record to 9-0, which is a record start in the program’s history. Their 55-42 win over Heritage gets them to that 9-0 spot with just two games left, both in conference, before the NECC Tournament. We are looking forward to impending Eastside battles with Central Noble and Fremont. Last season, these Blazers were constantly trying to play spoiler and now they have to be considered a top team to beat in the conference. Their run to 9-0 makes you wonder: could the Blazers be the favorite heading into 2022?

Eastside’s Mataya Bireley races up court with the ball during a December 23 game against Heritage in the old Eastside gym. (Photo by Leverage Photography)


It is worth the discussion now that we are in the timeline of when a SAC Holiday Tournament would take place: will it ever be back?

My quick answer: I hope not.

I had the chance to listen to Snider coach Jeremy Rauch and Homestead coach Rod Parker answer questions on the radio this past week about that tournament. Both were solid in this: they miss it. But just because we all miss the pageantry and the basketball heavy days that could take place at Wayne in recent years doesn’t mean we are all clamoring to have it back. Listen, it was fun while it lasted, but it has opened up so many other opportunities. Snider boys will play at the Huntington North Tournament while Homestead girls will get a bit of an unprecedented break to head into the second half of the season.

There are plenty of holiday tournaments around; like Rauch said in the interview: holiday tournaments aren’t going anywhere. Carroll and Homestead held an event together last week, as did Concordia, Fremont boys are headed to Ohio to play and we will always have things like last weekend’s shootout at Grace or the Hall of Fame Classic when local teams are invited.

What I’d like instead is a new Northeast Indiana Holiday Tournament. Could you imagine seeing some of the top teams playing each other each year in matchups we’d never normally get. Carroll versus Garrett girls, Homestead versus Central Noble boys, Snider versus Eastside boys, Columbia City versus Homestead girls. Just think of how much fun that would be as a couple day tournament or even a single day shootout.

One thing we know, it is always changing and there will always be a new tournament somewhere to latch on to.

Columbia City’s Bekah Marshall works against the Concordia Lutheran defense during a December 20 game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)


There is a school of thought that Bounce is among others who are forgetting about Columbia City and/or some of the players on their girls basketball team.

Stop it.

Bounce is about as woke as I can be. And who isn’t at this point? The Eagles are unbeatable and unbeaten heading into 2022 and they are the last area team to be such.

Last week, when Bounce put out some midseason awards and heavily mentioned two Eagles: Molly Baker and Addison Baxter, it was even said I was forgetting certainly Eagles. That is just silly talk. Girls basketball is loaded in this area this year but just because Kyndra Sheets and Bekah Marshall weren’t named last week doesn’t mean they are not firmly on my radar. It was just a focus into Baker and Baxter and their explosion onto the scene.

The reality is that Columbia City is every good from top to bottom. This is a program that is winning by almost 30 points per game and are 6-0 against the SAC. Trust me when I say that no even semi-expert in the area is forgetting about Columbia City or any of their talented roster.

This last week, with wins over Columbia City and Northfield, it showed the gap between the Eagles and other teams, outscoring them 145-45. Five players scored in double figures against Concordia, led by Sheets’ 23 as well as double digits from Marshall, Baxter, Tessa Tonkel and Danielle Dunham, all while holding the Cadets to single digits in each quarter.

Against Northfield, Tonkel led the way with 17 points.

Snider’s Aidan Lambert goes up for a shot agains the Merrillville defense during December 18’s game as part of the Champions of Character Classic at Grace. (Photo by Leverage Photography)


I was unable to put finger to keyboard last weekend, but it is time to talk more about Aidan Lambert after his 51 point output in last weekend’s win over Merrillville for Snider.

I remember watching Lambert during a Monday night league in June of 2019. He was part wide eyed and part heavily determined as a sophomore that was fighting for a spot in a loaded Panther lineup. He did earn the time eventually and was usually about the third guy off the bench during a Sectional title run that was cut short due to the Coivd-19 pandemic.

Then along the way, he just emerged as naturally as any star this area has seen in a long time. People weren’t talking about Lambert that sophomore year. More talked about him going into last season, noting that how well he could step up that big step would help dictate how good the Panthers were during his junior season. Coming into this season, he had a ton of hype as one of the best players in the area. His summer was amazing as he played wherever he could, whenever he could. His in game and dunk contest slams put him majorly on the map.

But who had Lambert, three games into his senior season, with scoring efforts of 40 and 51 in the bag already? Nobody did. If they say they did, they lie to you.

Lambert’s glow up has been nothing short of remarkable. He has gone from an afterthought bench player just two years ago to one of the biggest stars in the northern half of the state. He is, right now, one of the best scorers period in Indiana. That is an insane bump up, kids just don’t do that. Lambert has done it and although I have already raved about him this season, until he actually slows down, I am going to keep at it.


Addie Shank of Bishop Luers posted a career night on Tuesday with 23 points and 11 rebounds against Marion. The sophomore continues to prove that she may end up being the best player in the SAC by the time she is a senior….Two more hugely impressive double doubles this week from Homestead‘s Ayanna Patterson (17 points/17 rebounds vs. Hamilton Southeastern) and Warsaw‘s Abby Sanner (17 points/15 rebounds vs. Lake Central). Those are two big time wins and two dominating inside performances….Garrett junior Bailey Kelham surpassed the 1,000 career point mark on Wednesday against Bishop Dwenger. Kelham scored 28 points to hit the mark.


Concordia sophomore Cole Hayworth continues to be a bright spot for the Cadets. On Tuesday during Concordia’s one day shootout, he showed how consistent he can keep being, including an 8 of 11 game shooting against South Bend Washington. Hayworth is strong at the rim and will continue to be one to watch….Cannen Houser scored 27 on Tuesday during the Carroll-Homestead Classic, showing off perhaps his best offensive prowess of the season for the Chargers….While Ethan Poling from Adams Central looked to be the star in the Battle of Adams County with 22 points, it was a balanced effort on Tuesday from Bellmont to lead the way. Andrew James had 18 while the Braves for 16 points each from Isaiah Wellman and John Ulman.


Vote on this week’s girls basketball Performance of the Week.

Vote on this week’s boys basketball Performance of the Week.

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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