With boys basketball postseason coming around quickly, Bounce is here to quick preview and discuss the area Sectionals, moving on to Class 4A.
SECTIONAL 5 AT DEKALB
Projected Winner: Snider
The buy in must be significant and when it is, Snider is a hard team to beat.
This is a season where almost everybody has “a guy” but hardly anyone has two of them. Snider does, Snider has two of them. Karson Jenkins has been an absolute revelation all year with his scoring upside whether it is from long range, beautiful in the mid range or at the rim. Is it safe to say that Snider would struggle to win without him? I’d say so.
Aidan Lambert hasn’t had the consistency that Jenkins has but is still very much one of the top players in the SAC. He is a human highlight reel that has most defenders in the palm of his hand. On one end, they don’t want to get beat off the dribble and dunked on. Other the other end, everyone knows he is a streaky, if not capable shooter capable of getting hot so you can’t stay too far back.
From there, you see a number drop-off but the energy can still permeate big. Sophomore Ke’ron Billingsley could also have a big week.
Senior player you can’t miss: Connor Penrod, DeKalb
DeKalb is rebuilding and that is a difficult place for any senior to be. But Penrod has continued to shine as he finds his own space in the Baron offense. Penrod is capable of big games any game and that makes him dangerous this week, especially on Friday depending on who DeKalb will see.
But no matter the semi final matchup, Penrod’s length and determination at the rim is worth watching closely. He is an exciting senior and has stood the test of time through many changes in the program and the lineup.
Don’t be surprised if: Northrop finds their groove
Is Northrop back on a righteous path after the incident with North Side? A blowout loss to Blackhawk Christian raises some concerns about that, but it doesn’t erase that this team has shown excellent depth in many situations this season.
Jalen Jackson is arguably the best player in this field and while I am all for the argument, I am on Jackson’s. side. He is going to get his and we all know that, but it doesn’t make what he does almost every night less exciting for this team or onlookers. For Northrop to win this thing though, there has to be substantial help from those around him.
Again, we’ve seen that this year but not as consistently as I’d like to see. Devin Campos and Jayden Schmenk are huge helps at setting tone and pace and they really provide a lot defensively for this team that helps create instant offense. To get by East Noble’s Chris Hood in the first round and ultimately win this thing come Saturday, Dalman Alexander needs to use his length to impose his will. All of these things are possible and a Northrop title is very much in the realm of possibility as they have to be right there in champion expectations.
SCHEDULE AT DEKALB
Snider (15-7) vs. North Side (10-10), 6 p.m.
East Noble (10-12) vs. Northrop (12-10), 7:30 p.m.
DeKalb (10-12) vs. Snider/North Side, 6 p.m.
Carroll (2-20) vs. East Noble/Northrop, 7:30 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.
SECTIONAL 6 AT Huntington North
Projected Winner: Homestead
Only team in the area ranked in the single class poll of the best teams in the state and some people think the Spartans could be state contenders this season with a Mr. Basketball nominee up front leading the way.
We could rave all day about how special Fletcher Loyer is and it is certainly warranted. He is a star, he’s a big time scorer and there is a reason that colleges went gaga over him before he committed to Purdue. Fletcher Loyer alone could will the Spartans through a lot of things and there have been times he has.
But with the pedigree that Homestead and coach Chris Johnson have, you have to expect the Spartans to be at their best, ready and willing, for the postseason. Look no further than their regular season finale win over Norwell; all things clicked. Their defense defended the rim, they chased Norwell shooters around and off the perimeter making open shots almost impossible to come by and they got into passing lanes to use their defense to create instant offense.That Homestead is hard to beat in this area or any other.
That will take the entire starting five and some depth to make work, starting with the Leeper brothers Grant and Andrew. They both have shown a lot of strength intermittently so the more steady they can be, the more dangerous, physical and powerful that Homestead will be this week.
Senior player you can’t miss: Jakar Williams, New Haven
The last month or so of Williams’ senior year has been explosive. It really started with his game against Homestead in a loss and has carried over almost nightly, win or lose. Williams has a high motor and anyone who has seen his crossover appeal on the football field and basketball court knows it.
Williams plays with a hunger for success and he knows the feeling, being a key part of the Bulldogs’ Sectional title just two seasons ago. If nothing else, ou are going to get Williams’ best effort and that is fun to watch. But this is a kid who doesn’t want to be just fun to watch, he wants to win and he’s going to put New Haven on his back if needed to get there.
No matter who New Haven gets on Friday night, Williams is going to try and drop 35 to 50 on them.
Don’t be surprised if: Huntington North reigns at home
Tempo is a tricky mistress and the Vikings have that. Everyone knows they have that and everyone knows if they can’t speed Huntington North up, they will be in trouble. The last thing you want is a Viking paced game.
But here is what can get lost: a Viking paced game doesn’t mean slow it down and limit the points even if Craig Teagle coached teams find great success in that platform. The reality is that Huntington North finds success because they can slow it down and they can speed it up. Huntington North dictates tempo well and that is when they win, not just when that tempo is low and slow.
Zach Hubartt and Will Hotchkiss are a duo that we don’t talk about enough in the area because they run that tempo. They have become trusted hands of Teagle and perhaps the best trusted duo since the Vikings last raised a Sectional title trophy. So if they can impose that tempo, the Vikings are certainly as dangerous as any team in this Sectional. Oh yeah, the fact it is on their home court certainly doesn’t hurt.
SCHEDULE AT HUNTINGTON NORTH
Huntington North (14-9) vs. Homestead (19-5), 6 p.m.
South Side (12-10) vs. Columbia City (17-5), 7:30 p.m.
New Haven (11-12) vs. Huntington North/Homestead, 6 p.m.
Wayne (4-17) vs. South Side/Columbia City, 7:30 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.