While we have turned the calendar to 2022, Outside the Huddle is still taking some time to look back on the year that was in northeast Indiana football and basketball.
Today, we examine overall success on the court and on the gridiron and identify four schools that had the most success in both.
What a year 2021 was for the Chargers.
It began when the Carroll girls’ basketball team was able to slay the dragon that was Homestead, ending the Spartans’ five-year run at the top of the SAC.
A four-point win over Homestead in double OT way back in December of 2020 proved to be the pivotal game for Coach Mark Redding’s squad. It was echoed by a 66-58 victory over the Spartans in the regional championship as Carroll went 25-3 overall.
On the boys’ hoops side, not many expected last year to be the final one in which Marty Beasley would helm the Chargers. It ended up being so as Beasley left for DeKalb, but not before he coached Carroll to an 18-7 record with its lone SAC loss come to Homestead. The postseason was fruitful as well, with the Chargers capturing a sectional championship.
And of course it was a historic season for Carroll on the gridiron. Not only did it open its brand-new dynamic football facility on campus, it captured a share of its first-ever SAC regular-season championship and a sectional crown for the first time in seven years in a 10-2 season.
While the Spartans’ girls basketball team failed to win the SAC for the first time since joining the league in 2015, it did earn its third-consecutive sectional title and seventh in eight years. All told, Homestead won 18 or more games for the 12th straight season under Coach Rod Parker.
Their start to the 2021-22 season has been fruitful too as Ayanna Patterson is a Miss Basketball candidate and the Spartans are again one of the best teams in the state.
Meanwhile, Coach Chris Johnson’s boys team won its first 25 games of the season, barreled through the SAC and entered the postseason as the top-ranked team in both the AP and IBCA polls with Indiana All-Star Luke Goode and and Junior All-Star Fletcher Loyer.
After winning the SAC in back-to-back seasons, it was a step back for the Spartans on the gridiron in 2021. That said, it was the eighth-straight winning campaign for Homestead with the highlight being a 16-point victory over Bishop Dwenger.
Former Panther Akilah Sims made an immediate impact as coach of the girls’ basketball program last season as Snider improved from five to 13 wins from the year before, a resurgence that has only continued this campaign.
Coach Jeremy Rauch and the Panthers notched a third-straight double-digit win season on the boys’ side of the hardwood at the end of the 2021 season. They started the 2021-22 season strong too as Aidan Lambert has emerged as an Indians All-Star candidate with games of 40 and 51 points.
On the football field, a slow start with last-second win over North Side and a loss to Carroll over the first two weeks gave way to seven wins in seven weeks for Coach Kurt Tippmann’s squad, good enough to earn a share of the SAC championship. A Week 9 victory over Bishop Luers was the highlight, handing the Knights their first loss of the year.
The Knights won their second-straight Northeast 8 title and third in four years in 2020-21, rolling through the league without a loss. Overall, Coach Eric Thornton’s squad won 23 games and won sectional and regional championships.
A very young Norwell boys basketball team reached double digits in victories in 2020-21. It was the fifth time in five years that Coach Mike McBride reached the 10-plus win plateau since taking over the Knights.
Norwell’s most successful season on the gridiron since 2006, at least in terms of wins, came in 2021 with an 11-victory campaign. It was the second-consecutive double-digit win season for the Knights under Coach Josh Gerber, with notable wins over East Noble, Columbia City and Concordia Lutheran on the way to a sectional title for the first time since 2014.