- Columbia City 6-1
- Norwell 7-1
- Huntington North 3-1
- Bellmont 7-1
- DeKalb 4-3
- Leo 5-4
- East Noble 2-4
- New Haven 1-6
This week begins NE8 play for girls’ basketball as we get to see how things play for this year’s version of NE8 girls’ basketball. Columbia City averaged 75 points on Thanksgiving week as they cruised to wins over Goshen and Bishop Luers behind a career week from Addison Baxter (career high 33 Friday vs Bishop Luers).
Norwell saw the return of sharpshooter Kennedy Fuelling, and just four days after Makenzie Fuess set the single-game scoring record for the program (37 points), Kennedy tops that off with 40 points and 11-18 from 3 in the 84-55 win over Concordia Lutheran. Norwell also went into Grant County and pulled away with a 51-43 win over Eastbrook.
But the story from last week came last Tuesday’s game at Homestead, where Taylor Double (pictured above) scored a career-high 28 points and Marissa Trout banked in a half-court heave at the buzzer to win 58-55 in OT. It was the Vikings’ first win against the Spartans since 2010, and the first at Homestead since 2006. Trout’s game-winner was the top play on Sportscenter that night.
Now, we will get to find out who will come through this week with first impressions in NE8 play.
SuperSam’s 5 NE8 Girls’ Basketball Picks of the Week
2-4 East Noble @ 4-4 Lakeland
East Noble will be playing their first game since November 22, and it is a short drive up to Lagrange County to face the Lady Lakers. Since Olivia Oman made her season debut at Lakewood Park, Lakeland is 4-1 and averaging 51.4 points a game.
During Lakeland’s previous outing against Leo Saturday, Peyton Hartsough (a future Huntington Lady Forester) dropped 27 points, 7 boards, 5 steals, and 5 assists against Leo. Lakeland, as a team, shot 44% from the floor, and recorded 16 assists. Lakeland is averaging 14.1 assists per game this season.
For East Noble, the rebuild is still in its early stages, but you can see things are starting to round into form for the Knights. While the losses at times have been painful, they are starting to show some fight against quality competition.
Now, can they use these lessons to make this an interesting battle with Lakeland? East Noble does have some size that can at least frustrate some of Lakeland’s smaller frontcourt. However, offensive execution and turnovers are key here.
Players to Watch
EN: Bree Walmsley Senior Combo Guard
Lakeland: Alivia Rasler Senior Point Guard
Lakeland by 14
5-4 Leo @ 3-4 Concordia
After a 5-1 start, hard times are starting to become a recurring theme for this young Leo roster. Half of Leo’s losses came by just five points (59-54 Woodlan and 47-42 South Adams). Leo is shooting 38% from the floor and 39% from 3. However, since last Tuesday, Leo is shooting less than 32% from the floor in all three games.
After being held to 4 points against South Adams, Leah May (IWU Softball commit) drained four three-pointers and scored 18 points in the 53-41 loss at Lakeland. She is a crucial player to lead a young, scrappy Leo offense against an athletic Concordia frontcourt.
The key defensive matchup will be senior Haylee Schott vs junior Annaka Nelson. Schott is averaging 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game as she will be one of several girls that will attempt to slow down the Huntington commit. Nelson had a big-time performance at Norwell with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals in a losing effort. She is the engine that makes them go, especially on defense.
Players to Watch
Leo: Haylee Schott Senior Center
Concordia: Annaka Nelson Senior Power Forward/Center (Huntington Commit)
Concordia by 1
7-1 Norwell @ 3-1 Huntington North
This is THE game of the week outside of the SAC as Norwell and Huntington North look to battle it out for a chance at NE8 supremacy. Last season saw a historic three teams clinching a share of a NE8 championship.
Last year’s meeting went down to the wire as Norwell rallied from a halftime deficit to beat the Vikings 49-47 at the Castle. Norwell has mostly steamrolled their competition winning all but one game by 14 points or more. That offensive showing will need to do its part to frustrate a younger but efficient Huntington defense.
The Vikings are not a fluke. They have played a difficult (SAC-like) schedule, beating Snider, Carmel, and Homestead. The Vikings lone letdown was a 55-32 loss to undefeated Carroll, where Head Coach Matt Hinds expressed disappointment in his team’s ability to close out the lane that night. That to which they were able to mostly resolve at Homestead.
Now coming off that win, can the Vikings sustain this momentum in NE8 play? Their past three meeting suggest Huntington North is capable of beating Norwell, but Coach Thornton’s 1-3-1 press is giving opposing offenses all kinds of trouble. But when there is trouble, you have to make that double, and for the Marian commit, Taylor Double, she is a nightmare for any opponent to defend.
The role players are something to watch for as being the x-factors in this potential classic.
Players to Watch
Norwell: Kennedy Fuelling Junior Combo Guard
HN: Grace Fields Junior Guard/Forward
Norwell by 3
7-1 Bellmont @ 4-3 DeKalb
With that Norwell-HN game being the lone NE8 game being played, the rest of the conference will start their NE8 play the next day, beginning with Bellmont and DeKalb. The Lady Braves have dominated through their first eight games, winning all seven games by double digits and holding five teams to below 40 points.
Bellmont’s success lies in team basketball and intense defense led by their senior floor general, Sydney Keane. Junior Hailey Cole stretches the floor with her 5’10 size being an advantage to pound it inside, while being able to expand with the 3-ball. The Bleke girls are (well) the Bleke girls when it comes to their versatility and defensive prowess. This is not a team with a lot of big-time scorers, but they are a complete team.
DeKalb, on the other hand, is a little more on the star-heavy side as the Barons are starting to stretch it out with the modernized perimeter shooting presence. This is a team that will take threes, and they are usually capable to make seven or even 10 threes in a game.
However, DeKalb has hit a wall in their last two games as they were held to less than 25 points against unbeaten teams: Central Noble and Northrop. Consistency has not always been there so far, but with girls like Delaney and Ashley Cox and Lillie Cone on the floor, you can’t count them out. If the Barons can contain Bellmont’s length inside, this could surprise some people.
Players to Watch
Bellmont: Hailey Cole Junior Combo Forward
DeKalb: Lillie Cone Senior Combo Guard
Bellmont by 20
5-4 Leo @ 6-1 Columbia City
On paper, this is going to be a brutal matchup for Leo to succeed in on paper. But if Leo has something going for them, it is their length and toughness from the frontcourt, which could frustrate the Lady Eagles’ guards early.
With that in mind, this is Columbia City we’re talking about here. Their fast tempo style of basketball forces opponents to engage in some form of a track meet, and it creates all kinds of chaos for defenses. The Eagles are averaging 64.6 points per game and allowing just 39.9. This is a team that can shoot in all three zones, inside or out, and they have the athletes to crash the boards.
Despite the early season struggles of filling the role of Bekah Marshall, Columbia City has almost effortlessly been able to overcome these struggles with a young roster. Addison Baxter is the chef of this offense (and defense) and is widely regarded as one of the most sought-after recruits in the 2025 class. To put it bluntly, Baxter is a game changer.
Then you have Kyndra Sheets, a perimeter shooter with strong basketball IQ and some tough defense. Molly Baker spaces the floor as their “stretch four” in the paint, and the Tonkel sisters: Tessa and Anisa provide balance and toughness.
If Leo is unable to cool down their shooters, it could be a long night.
Players to Watch
Leo: Leah May Senior Guard
Columbia City: Addison Baxter Sophomore Combo Guard