This Saturday represents arguably the best day all season of boys hoops – regionals. Four teams, three games, one title.
OTH is breaking down each regional involving area programs.
Up next is Class 3A.
NEW CASTLE REGIONAL
Projected Winner: NorthWood
For the third straight season, NorthWood finds itself in the regional round of the tournament. Can it win its first regional championship since 2007?
Bounce believes the third time is the charm. The Panthers are incredibly stingy, allowing just a touch over 42 points per game. The offense is not necessarily powerful, but it has a handful of guys who can beat you, including senior Chaz Yoder, who provides a lot of the energy and leadership of this group.
Yoder is complemented by Cade Brenner, who has range from the inside-out and is not afraid to mix it up on the boards. Junior Ian Raasch can get to the bucket and is also an unheralded rebounder.
NorthWood is built a lot like Leo was a year ago, a motley crew for tough, well-rounded players who are exceptional together as a unit.
The Panthers are at their best late in close games, as they are 8-0 in games decided by nine or less points.
Is NorthWood the best team overall? There is a heavy argument to be made. At the very least, they are structured and experienced and on what can always be a wild Saturday, that matters.
Senior player you can’t miss: Caedmon Bontrager, Leo
Bontrager has been huge in his lone season with the Lions, giving the team a dynamic that few squads possess – a 6-8 forward who can finish at the rim, slash to the hoop and run the floor.
The senior alone could be the key piece for the Lions as they look to win a second regional crown in as many years. In fact, the margin is so slim in Bounce’s mind between NorthWood and Leo that Bontrager’s presence could be the difference in the evening final if the two teams face off.
Don’t be surprised if: Norwell rises up
In early January, Leo and Norwell traded blows in a Northeast 8 showdown that went the Lions’ way by seven points.
The Knights have lost just once since – to Homestead. A team that many consider perhaps a year away is getting another shot at the Lions, with the group playing arguably better basketball that it was two months ago. Leo also has a bad taste in its mouth as it watched Norwell take the NE8 regular-season title, something many thought was the Lions’ to lose at the start of the season.
This one should be good in the semifinal round, and don’t be surprised if the Knights get some payback.
Luke McBride is rightfully the focus. after putting in 25 points and having 11 rebounds in last weekend’s Sectional title game, but Luke Graft has certainly been surging and he had 22 points in that same game. Norwell is tough, some may even possibly say the favorite on Saturday morning.
Yorktown (10-14) vs. NorthWood (24-2), 10 a.m.
Leo (19-5) vs. Norwell (22-4), noon
Final, 8 p.m.
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