Bounce’s Boys Hoops Power Poll for February 17

Homestead’s Andrew Leeper during January 11’s game at Blackhawk Christian.

We are in the stretch run of the regular season, yet there is still a lot of movement among the teams that Bounce considers the best in northeast Indiana.

Who slots in where in mid-February? Let’s take a look.

No. 1 – Homestead Spartans

Records: 17-5, 7-1 SAC

Previous rank: 3

Why #1?: The Spartans have won seven straight games since falling to Snider in mid-January including victories against Columbia City, Lawrence North, New Haven while at full strength and an impressive road dub in ‘The Cage’ at Concordia Lutheran without Fletcher Loyer.

Homestead has some issues, exposed here and there over the course of the season. But in a year in which there are no truly dominant programs in the area, the Spartans have been the most consistent and have the most impressive victories on their resume.

Why not higher?: It doesn’t get better.

Best win: Carmel

No. 2 – Norwell Knights

Records: 17-3, 6-1 NE8

Previous rank: 4

Why #2?: Congratulations to the Knights, who last weekend clinched their second NE8 championship in three years.

Coach Mike McBride’s young group has been sensational of late, with nine straight victories since a loss to Leo in early January.

Norwell has a key final three regular-season games on tap, with Jay County, Concordia Lutheran and Homestead left to play before the postseason.

Why not higher?: Norwell and Homestead have yet to play this season, but that changes a week from Friday.

Best win: Crown Point

No. 3 – Snider Panthers

Records: 13-6, 6-2 SAC

Previous rank: 3

Why #3?: Some will argue with this ranking, pointing to the fact that the Panthers are 2-3 in their last five, including a 40-point trouncing at the hands of Lawrence North last weekend.

But the only area loss during this recent run was Bishop Dwenger, which Snider played short-handed as Karson Jenkins had to sit due to a violation of team rules.

Speaking of, kudos to Coach Jeremy Rauch, who put discipline and life lessons over the SAC race in what was a pivotal game.

A sneaky good Saturday matinee is on tap for Snider this week as Class 2A No. 2 Monroe Central pays a visit.

Why not higher?: Yes, Snider knocked off our top team in this poll, but the Panthers have losses to Carmel and Lawrence North in recent weeks by a combined 72 points, two teams that Homestead beat. Basically, Bounce is putting more stock into the entire resume for teams than just one matchup between each other.

Best win: Homestead

No. 4 – Blackhawk Christian Braves

Records: 16-3

Previous rank: 8

Why #4?: The Braves are rounding into form, with a hard-fought road win at state-ranked Tindley and a rout of Marion the team’s last two dubs.

Sandwiched in between was a loss to Snider, a game that could have gone either way down the stretch. If anything, it was a character-building experience for a team that has a great shot at advancing deep into the 2A playoffs.

Luke Sefton and Josh Furst have been exceptional and are on the radar of the University of Saint Francis for hoops.

Why not higher?: All three of Blackhawk Christian’s losses this year have come to area squads – Homestead, Snider and Bishop Dwenger. Coincidentally, none are in Class 2A. Just sayin’

Best win: Brownstown Central

No. 5 – South Side Archers

Records: 11-7, 5-3 SAC

Previous rank: Not ranked

Why #5?: South Side ha a tough two-week stretch in January, dropping three of four, including a pair of league games to Concordia Lutheran and Bishop Dwenger.

But February has been fruitful for Coach J.J. Foster’s squad. Winners of five straight, the Archers appear to be peaking at the right time. Its most recent win really turned some heads – a 15-point win at Central Noble on Tuesday.

Omarion Washington is the leading scorer as a junior, but many of the other primary contributors are seniors. The urgency that comes from knowing this is the final run for a lot of this team is fueling its recent success.

Why not higher?: Well, seven losses are still a lot. And the Archers have had difficulty against teams that can slow their offense down, although the recent win over Huntington North was encouraging in that regard.

Best win: Central Noble

No. 6 – Central Noble Cougars

Records: 20-2, 8-1 NECC

Previous rank: No. 1

Why #6?: The Cougars take a steep drop from Bounce’s last power poll. Why?

Well the schedule has been lacking. While wins have still been piling up, Central Noble is 0-2 in its last two games involving teams with winning records.

The sectional looks highly winnable, although Eastside will be a challenge again. But that regional, with a potential showdown with Blackhawk Christian…

Why not higher?: Quality of opponents is lacking.

Best win: Barr-Reeve

No. 7 – Columbia City Eagles

Records: 15-5, 5-2 NE8

Previous rank: Not ranked

Why #7?: The NE8 has been bonkos this season, with Columbia City being that oft-forgotten team when it comes to talking about the best squads in the league.

But Coach Matt Schauss’ team has grabbed some attention of late by winning seven of their last nine games,including a victory over Leo last weekend. The lone two defeats over the span have been to Homestead and Norwell, the top two teams this week, per Bounce.

Why not higher?: The offense of the Eagles struggles at times, which worries Bounce as the postseason looms. Columbia City is averaging 60.8 points in its wins and 45.4 points in its losses. s 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: Leo

No. 8 – Eastside Blazers

Records: 19-1, 8-0 NECC

Previous rank: 2

Why #8?: A considerable drop for the Blazers this week, although due to no fault of their own.

The Central Noble loss to South Side hurt not just the Cougars in Bounce’s mind, but also the Blazers. Just how good is the NECC REALLY? Could it stand up to the top teams the area has to offer? If we go by the Central Noble-South Side game, the answer is no.

Why not higher?: See above.

Best win: Central Noble

No. 9 – Leo Lions

Records: 14-3, 4-2 NE8

Previous rank: 6

Why #9?: A surprising loss to Columbia City has led to Bounce dropping the Lions considerably in the rankings. Leo has had three different stretches involving three or more road games this year, including a recent four-game trip. Leo’s three losses this year have all come on the road. Too bad the sectional is at Garrett instead of Leo.

Why not higher?: The last two losses for Leo have come to NE8 foes. This No. 9 ranking seems low for Leo, but circumstances above forced Bounce to make some tough decisions.

Best win: Norwell

No. 10 – Bishop Dwenger Saints

Records: 10-8, 4-4 SAC

Previous rank: Not ranked

Why #10?: Trying to figure out the Saints this season has caused quite the headaches for Bounce.

On one hand, Bishop Dwenger has beaten the likes of Warsaw, Blackhawk Christian and Snider.

On the other, the Saints have losses to Bishop Luers and North Side.

One thing is for sure, the Saints are long and strong with a touch of speed. They are at best when they can sit in the half court and break you down.

Kudos to Dwenger for once again being that team no one wants to play because it is so pesky.

Why not higher?: Some questionable losses in 2022.

Best win: Snider

In the Conversation

Concordia Lutheran (10-9)

Huntington North 13-7)

Jay County (17-2)

Fairfield (12-6)

Warsaw (14-6)

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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