As expected, the hierarchy in Bounce’s Power Poll changes almost daily. After another week-plus of chaos in the region, this frog will attempt to piece together a top 10.
First up is a big decision by Bounce, and likely a shocker to many.
No. 1 – Central Noble Cougars
Records: 15-2, 5-2 NECC
Previous rank: 1
Why #1?: Why indeed.
Central Noble lost to Eastside last week on the road as the Blazers avenged a defeat in the NECC Tournament title game.
Conventional wisdom would lead Bounce to drop the Cougars from the top spot. But Central Noble played the majority of the game against Eastside with one of the top two players in the entire area – Connor Essegian.
Does Eastside beat the Cougars if Essegian is healthy and on the floor for the entirety of the contest? Bounce doesn’t think so.
Why not higher?: It doesn’t get better.
Best win: Eastside
No. 2 – Eastside Blazers
Records: 16-1, 6-0 NECC
Previous rank: Not ranked
Why #2?: Woah, what a jump for the Blazers. Look, a bump to No. 2 is the least that this frog can do considering he refuses to move Central Noble out of the top position in this poll.
The remaining schedule is laying out in a way that the Blazers should easily eclipse 20 victories in the regular season. A third showdown with Central Noble looms in sectional play.
Why not higher?: Because Eastside did not beat a Central Noble at full strength.
Best win: Central Noble
No. 3 – Homestead Spartans
Records: 13-5, 4-1 SAC
Previous rank: 3
Why #3?: A 3-0 week last week helped the Spartans erase some of the bad memories from the defeat to Snider earlier this month. How Homestead learned from that loss remains to be seen.
Perhaps Bounce is still a bit too high on Sparty. He WANTS to buy in to the supporting cast surrounding Fletcher Loyer, but can it get it done when it counts against good teams?
So far, the answer has been no. But the potential is there.
Why not higher?: The loss to Snider looms large.
Best win: Carmel
No. 4 – Norwell Knights
Records: 13-3, 3-1 NE8
Previous rank: 8
Why #4?: Welcome the Knights to the party towards the top of the ever-evolving weekly Power Poll.
Four straight wins, including a tight victory over New Haven, has the Knights playing some of the best basketball in the area. Even back-to-back losses to Class 4A No. 1 Chesterton and Leo showed just how good Norwell can play, considering both were decided by single digits.
This team is still learning how to finish games but it continues to look better and better with each outing.
Why not higher?: The way things are playing out both in Ossian and elsewhere, Norwell could be set for a bigger jump next week.
Best win: Crown Point
No. 5 – New Haven Bulldogs
Records: 7-7, 3-1 NE8
Previous rank: No. 6
Why #5?: Since a loss to Snider on Jan. 4, New Haven has gone 4-1, which this season constitutes quite the run for anyone considering the parity.
The lone loss was a two-point decision last week to Norwell, but the ‘Dogs rebounded well by beating up Concordia Lutheran one night later.
Three straight road games at Columbia City, Homestead and Huntington North loom large for New Haven.
Why not higher?: Uh, perhaps the seven losses? And you’re still in the top five.
Best win: Leo
No. 6 – Leo Lions
Records: 9-2, 2-1 NE8
Previous rank: No. 7
Why #6?: A tough road trip against Norwell, New Haven and Snider ended with a 2-1 record, capped by a 13-point victory over the Panthers last week.
With defeats now to the Bulldogs and Northrop, we know what Leo’s kryptonite is, teams that can run the floor and wear out the Lions, forcing them to play up tempo instead of setting up in the half-court. Guard play will be of paramount importance in the playoffs, an area where Leo must improve.
Why not higher?: Leo has had to earn a fair of its wins on the road. Two months into the season and the Lions have still played just three home games.
Best win: Norwell
No. 7 – Snider Panthers
Records: 9-3, 4-1 SAC
Previous rank: 2
Why #7?: Bounce knows that disrespect is fuel for Snider, so a five-spot drop in his Power Poll may light a fire.
The Panthers have plenty of talent, but they are also wildly inconsistent. The team that went to Homestead and won wasn’t the same squad that got beat by 13 on its home floor by Leo. And while good, a senior-less Concordia Lutheran team shouldn’t look like the more composed team down the stretch as the Panthers escaped with a three-point win last Friday.
Why not higher?: As good as the offense is, allowing 67 points per game is going to be tough to overcome against the really good teams in Class 4A that loom in regional action and beyond.
Best win: Homestead
No. 8 – Blackhawk Christian Braves
Previous rank: 4
Why #8?: Bounce had to do a double take on Tuesday night when he saw the score.
The Braves lost to…who?
Bishop Dwenger got the best of Blackhawk Christian, which isn’t altogether surprising when you look back and remember just how tough the Saints have played the Braves in recent years.
With its length and size, Dwenger is a bad matchup for the Braves, and it showed on Tuesday.
Why not higher?: The Braves have lost two of their last four games.
Best win: North Daviess
No. 9 – Northrop Bruins
Records: 8-7, 2-2 SAC
Previous rank: 9
Why #9?: Following a four-game losing streak, the Bruins have won two straight in convincing fashion over Wayne and Canterbury.
While not huge wins, it shows that Northrop can bounce back from adversity and sets up what could be an interesting game against Homestead on Friday.
Why not higher?: Seven regular-season losses.
Best win: Lawrenceburg
No. 10 – Jay County Patriots
Records: 12-2, 3-0 ACAC
Previous rank: No. 10
Why #10?: The Patriots remain at No. 10 for the second straight week as it continues to make mincemeat of the rest of the ACAC.
Five straight wins over league foes has help bad the win-loss record, but just how good is JC really?A visit to Norwell on Feb. 18 will be telling.
Why not higher?: Lacking that eye-catching area dub.
Best win: Southwestern
In the Conversation
Concordia Lutheran (6-7)
South Side (6-5)
Huntington North (10-5)
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