Regional Saturday is on the way and it sure looks different.
Gone are the morning semifinal games to try and win a regional title at night. Instead, each site is host to two games on the day where two different regional champions will be named. And those two teams will advance to a now-four team semistate.
So there is a chance of far more Regional champions coming out of Northeast Indiana this season. Who does Bounce thinks will be those teams?
CLASS 2A AT WINAMAC
Central Noble [24-2] vs. South Central (Union Mills) [23-3]
Could South Central (Union Mills) be the first team not named Fairfield to beat the Cougars this season? Central Noble was among the last undefeated teams in the state and after dropping back to back games to Fairfield, have now won five straight with three of those being double digit wins.
South Central has won 12 straight themselves and have won back to back Sectionals. Earlier this season, Olivia Marks became the 7th player in Satellites girls hoops history to surpass 1,000 career points. She and Hope Welsh can be high quality scorers for South Central.
Central Noble has never had a down year since their state title but nobody really knew how things would change or alter with a new head coach at the helm this season. A first year head coach, Sam Malcolm has more than proven what he has leading a team as his perimeter oriented offense has assisted in Meghan Kiebel becoming of of the best shooters in Central Noble history this season. Kiebel wasn’t an unknown by any stretch but her rating on opposing scouting reports has soared.
Madi Vice too has seen her stock go up. Vice has always been a tremendous player and has really asserted herself as one of the area’s best on both ends of the floor all season long. Vice is averaging 18.3 points, six points, five assists and 3.7 steals per game. That is not a bad stat line at all, is it? She leads the Cougars in all but one of those categories. Freshman Grace Swank and her 6.5 rebounds per game have been a big asset too.
Being back in 2A is important for Central Noble, a class they once owned. Will they own it this year? Maybe a stretch, but I do believe first year head coach Sam Malcolm isn’t done collecting hardware just yet. BOUNCE PICKS CENTRAL NOBLE
CLASS 2A AT LAPEL
Lafayette Central Catholic [19-6] vs. Bishop Luers [11-13]
Getting here has not been super easy for Bishop Luers. There were lofty expectations for this team with how much they returned and the addition of Annika Davis to the varsity ranks. At times, they looked like world beaters and at other times, they fell short in moments we expected them to shine like a six game stretch of essentially blow out losses.
Yet here we are with the Knights as champions and the momentum of that keeps them as an intriguing prospect on Saturday. If anything, it shows how the gauntlet of the SAC can sharpen even the bottom half teams for postseason runs. Sure, Luers would have liked to not finish 7th in the SAC but that Sectional title trophy probably takes the edge off.
Luers is young, they don’t have a single senior listed on their roster. Addie Shank comes in averaging 13.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game as a highly difficult matchup inside because, not only her size, but how well she can ready positioning on the floor. Annika Davis has been solid and is still working to get back into the same role she had as one of the best rising players in the area just two seasons ago. Freshman Miley Wareing is one of the best underclassmen in the SAC.
LCC just beat the 6th best team in Class 2A to get to this round with a young player of their own in Carly Barrett leading them with 22 points. Ranked 5th themselves in 2A, LCC have been able to cause real issues for opponents of a high level defensively. Kendal Rider has led that charge for LCC and if LCC doesn’t settle on either end of the court, they can be a nightmare for anyone in the state tournament.
Luers’ regular season wasn’t what they wanted or expected. But they are still young with their top players returning next season and a Sectional title is an important step. A regional? That is a much bigger challenge. BOUNCE PICKS LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC
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