Now we go into Class 3A where there are some very interesting matchups in the regional round.
Twin Lakes (26-0) vs Garrett (14-11) @ Bellmont
The first game to discuss comes in Decatur where the defending regional champions, Garrett, will once again be an underdog to face 3A #1 Twin Lakes out of Monticello, IN.
For Garrett, they’re coming off an impressive sectional run where the team showed the best form of Railroader basketball with their lunch pail defense and some gritty team basketball. Bailey Kelham was racking up 2K numbers in sectional play averaging 23.7 points, 7.7 boards, 1.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.7 blocks in those three games.
In the process of doing this, Kelham is now the highest scoring player regardless of gender in the history of Garrett High School at 1,752 career points. However, they’ll need more than a scoring surge to contend with the Mighty Lady Indians who score 62.3 and allow less than 39 points per game. Twin Lakes has a trio of double-digit scorers in Olivia Nickerson, Addie Bowsman, and Addi Ward.
Nickerson is their top shooter and scorer averaging 19 points and shooting 42% from 3. Addie Bowsman, only a sophomore, averages 17.5 points, 5.5 boards, and rack up 7.2 assists per game on 51% from the floor as a pure point guard.
As a team, Twin Lakes racks up 33.4 boards per game led by Kora Pass and her 7.5 boards per game. This is the one area Garrett should be able to compete with on paper as they generate 31.9 boards per game. Look for a good dose of not just Kelham, but also Kelsey Bergman to be active in the paint (as long as they can stay out of foul trouble).
The biggest x-factor is Garrett’s ability to shoot the basketball. This season they’re shooting just 30% from the floor and 24% from 3. However, the sectional championship game brought a different type of confidence as Garrett shot 41% from the floor and 35% from 3 in the 50-49 thrilling win over 20-5 Woodlan. Don’t sleep on Aida Haynes, Senior guard, that is coming off a huge 13 points against Woodlan last weekend.
Twin Lakes not only shoots 38% from 3, but they average 7.3 3’s per game. To me, that’s what will decide if this game is close. Because Garrett is a tough defensive team to score on, I see them have a very motivated start..but can they keep it up for 4 quarters with an unbeaten team?? We’ll find out.
Twin Lakes by 16
Hamilton Heights (19-5) vs Norwell (21-3) @ Bellmont
While this is a neutral site for both teams, you can almost call this home away from home for Norwell as Bellmont is only a 25 min drive west of Ossian.
What you’ll see here is two teams that space the floor extremely well and are very capable of shooting the 3-ball with consistency. Their guards will impact this game in more ways than one would think.
Let’s start off with Norwell as the Knights, despite not having a single Senior on the roster, overcame a very determined, veteran Northwestern team in a 55-54 thriller…thanks in part to a freshman Vanessa Rosswurm, who drained a last min 3 to secure the win.
But when you look at Norwell Girls’ Basketball, there’s a baller Fuelling up the stats, and a Fuess that’s risen to the occasions as the beast on the other side of that back court. Fuelling, who is the program’s newest 1,000-point scorer, has led the NE8 in scoring averaging 22.6 points per game as the matchup’s most lethal shooter off dribble or away from the ball. She’s everyone on the floor, and the range is through the roof.
For Fuess, she’s doing pretty darn good job averaging 16 points per game. But beyond that, they have some solid role players that get the job done. Besides the aforementioned Rosswurm, Annabelle Johnson and Haley Green are scrappy, veteran kids that bring leadership despite being just juniors. Ryland Graft has contributed with some tough plays, and then you have their true post-player in Dekota Hubble who crashes the boards and keeps the offense flowing inside.
For me, Hubble is the x-factor in this game because this Hamilton Heights team isn’t particularly known as a team that enforces a lot of interior presence. As a matter of fact, they’ve taken more threes than twos this season.
The Lady Huskies are a perennial 3A power located just north of Noblesville. This is the ONLY team that was successful in eliminating Renna Schwieterman and the Jay County Patriots. The Huskies are looking for just their second regional in program history and the first in 10 years.
The Huskies shoot 34% from 3 led by their sensational junior combo guard Camryn Runner, and the name does all of the talking. She averages 18.9 points per game and 7.1 boards on 46% shooting and 37% from 3. Beyond that, it’s a team with solid depth that helps Runner contribute the feistiness of this guard-oriented offense. Defensively, they’re even better allowing just 33.9 points per game (22nd in the state). That defense will go up against the state’s 4th best offense in Norwell.
Despite shooting a mediocre 42% from the floor by Norwell standards, they shot 37% from 3, grabbed 24 rebounds, and limited a juggernaut Tiger offense (led by McKenna Layden) to 20% from 3. Rebounding and being able to defend the perimeter using that 1-3-1 press will be the difference in this game.
This could be a classic of a showdown at Bellmont..however, I just have a feeling the Norwell Knights will find a way to make it back to Semistate.
Norwell by 3
Fairfield (24-2) vs Highland (17-6) @ Jimtown
Coming off the program’s first ever sectional three-peat, the Falcons are poised to get back to Semistate and try to get to their first ever state finals in the final postseason run for Brea Garber and this strong 2023 senior class.
The Falcons coasted sectional play winning both of their games by a combined 73 points. But from here on out, things will get tougher, and that begins with Highland located 34 min southeast of Chicago, IL. This is their first regional game in 16 years and looking for their first regional title in 20 years.
Highland has a balanced offense that can compete with Fairfield’s juggernaut offense. Three players average double figures for the Trojans led by freshman guard Jordan Steele (11.3) and junior Aaliyah Keil (11). This is a pretty solid shooting team from distance shooting 33% from deep led by senior Payton Reid.
Where Fairfield will have an advantage is not just postseason experience, but also the ability to use their length and scoring versatility to create mismatches and distribute the ball in different ways. No one on this program does it at an exceptional level than Brea Garber. The 6’1 combo forward committed to play ball at Indiana Wesleyan, she averages 15.1 points per game, but it’s the other things away from scoring that makes her an elite basketball player. She can dribble, shoot, and make plays.
The other girls around her solidify strong roles in going to the basket and understanding their shot selection. Bailey Willard, who averages 9.7 points, is their sharp shooter from deep. DO NOT LEAVE HER WIDE OPEN. Morgan Gawthrop, who averages 11.8 points per game, is the Falcons’ energy player that has a diverse offense but knows how to get it done on the defensive side. Kaylee Dillon, who averages just over 8 points, is usually one of their most overlooked players that gets the tough defensive assignments and makes big plays.
X-factor players to watch are senior Delaney Geiger and freshman Eva Herbert. Geiger takes on the role as a physical presence that disrupts flow inside and getting the extra boards. Herbert has similar skillsets to several of the other kids mentioned, but also has the wingspan and shooting ability to make huge plays, even as just a freshman.
Can Highland force Fairfield to take one-and-done possessions? Can the Trojans solve Fairfield’s 2-3 zone defense? If they can’t, Fairfield will be in a good spot.
Fairfield by 14
Mishawaka Marian by 4 over Tippy Valley