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SuperSam’s Best Area Basketball Games (Week of Feb. 10, 2024)

We are less than a month away until the boys basketball state tournament begins. That means conference championships are starting to wrap up for the regular season. 

A big congrats to Bellmont who won their share of the NE8 title with the 44-43 win over DeKalb last night. Here are the best that this weekend has to offer for 260 area basketball. 

Friday

(14-5, 6-1 NECC) Central Noble @ (13-4, 6-1 NECC) Lakeland 

In a 3-way tie for 1st place with Fairfield, Central Noble heads to LaGrange to take on a red-hot Lakeland team that has won 6 straight games since bowing out to Westview in OT in the NECC Tournament Quarterfinals. 

These two teams have a lot of talent on display. CN has the trio of Redick Zolman, Isaiah Gard, and recent 1000-point scorer Drew Pliett. Lakeland has all kinds of talent led by senior Nate Keil and a plethora of sophomores. It’s going to come down to which team can execute offensively, whether each team’s runs, and protect the boards. 

With that in mind, I will give the slight edge to Lakeland. 

Players to Watch

CN: Jackson Andrews Senior Point Guard

Lakeland: Keyan Arroyo Sophomore Point Guard

Lakeland by 4

(9-9, 3-3 NE8) Leo @ (13-6, 5-1 NE8) Columbia City 

This is to decide whether we will get 2 conference champions or just Bellmont. Thanks to Columbia City’s Valpo play at the buzzer to beat Bellmont, the Eagles can clinch a share of an NE8 title tonight if they are successful in beating a talented Leo team. 

The challenge is this Leo team is dangerous for their record, and are now starting to play better basketball. While most people talk about Jackson McGee and the Hiteshew brothers, lately it’s been Landon Ruoff whose been on fire averaging 19 points and 14 boards per game in the two games Leo has won lately. So that is something of note. 

It should be a loud postseason like atmosphere at the Bird Cage, and I have Columbia City closing it out with a Co-NE8 championship. 

Players to Watch

Leo: Landon Ruoff Junior Forward 

Columbia City: Matthew Mulligan Senior Guard 

Columbia City by 6

(10-10, 5-2 SAC) Homestead @ (10-8, 3-4 SAC) Concordia 

The emotional return of Will Jamison during Tuesday’s close loss at Wayne gives Homestead that emotional boost heading into state tournament preparation.

Sparty sits 2nd in the entire SAC despite the circumstances of a young team and not having Jamison’s services for the majority of the season. Homestead has played well and now will have an opportunity to get hot at the right time against a tough Concordia team that has held opponents to 49 points per game. 

I say Homestead gets it done in a tight contest. 

Players to Watch:

Homestead: Alex Graber Senior Shooting Guard 

Concordia: Cole Hayworth Senior Forward (Grace Signee)

Sparty by 3 in a SuperSam Upset Special 

(11-9, 5-3 SAC) Snider @ (14-3, 4-2 SAC) Bishop Luers

Two of the most improved teams in the SAC square off at Luers tonight as the Knights hope to stay mathematically alive in the SAC race against a Snider team that has seen a 9-win improvement from a year ago. 

Snider had an encouraging performance in the 74-73 OT loss to defending 2A State champion Blackhawk Christian Braves. They’ll have a tall task against a talented Luers team that has the Truesdale brothers. 

Players to Watch:

Snider: Trell Hogue Freshman Point Guard 

Luers: Dereon Truesdale Junior Combo Guard 

Luers by 7

Saturday 

(14-5) Blackhawk Christian @ (11-6) Heritage Christian 

An excellent road matchup for Blackhawk to get them ready for the final weeks of the regular season. They’ll need another strong game from junior Kellen Pickett who had 28 points, 18 boards, and 4 blocks in the win over Snider. 

Players to Watch

Blackhawk: Kellen Pickett Junior Forward

Heritage Christian: Luke Peters Senior Center

Blackhawk by 8

Undercard 

Girls Basketball Regionals 

4A: 

At Marion, Homestead and Snider will take part in their regional championship girls basketball games. (22-4) Homestead had a strong sectional run but will need another strong showing against freshman Lillian Graves and McCutcheon (21-4).

As for Snider (22-2), they get their rematch from their 57-51 loss to Noblesville (16-8) in the Noblesville Holliday Tournament. Both games are expected to be tight, but I have both SAC teams advancing to Semistate. 

Homestead by 3

Snider by 1 

3A: 

Norwell and Woodlan represent the 3A with an opportunity to play for a regional championship. (20-4) Norwell will look to play in their first Semistate since 2021, but a physical and talented 25-win Benton Central team awaits them at Caston. As for Woodlan (18-8) they get the top dogs in Class 3A in Camryn Runner and Hamilton Heights (23-2) at Lapel. Runner, the Evansville commit, is averaging over 27 points per game and is coming off a 28-point performance in the 37-36 sectional clinching win over ACAC champion Jay County.

I have Norwell squeaking by a talented Lady Bison team to get to Semistate. The same cannot be said for Woodlan, as I project Hamilton Heights to win pretty convincingly. This is a tough Huskies team, and likely to be Woodlan’s toughest test of the season. 

Norwell by 1

Hamilton Heights by 18

2A:

Fremont and Bishop Luers represent the 260 in this classification. Fremont is heading down to Bellmont in Decatur to take on co-TRC champions Lewis Cass. 

Fremont (16-8) is looking for their first regional title since 1999, whereas Cass (21-3) has never won a regional. Despite their talent, the big challenge for Fremont will be the physicality and rebounding of Lewis Cass, especially on defense holding teams to just over 30 points per game. 

As for Luers (16-6), it’s the long drive to Wes-Del to face a familiar foe from last year’s regional title game in Lafayette Central Catholic (15-11). On paper, both games are expected to be good ones. However, I only have a split in this one. 

Cass by 4

Luers by 3

1A:

Bethany Christian and Northfield represent Class 1A, and for the Bruins it’s an opportunity to try to get back to Gainbridge FieldHouse for the 2nd year in a row. 

Bethany Christian (18-6) is heading to Caston to face the host Lady Comets (21-3) who are playing in their first regional since 1985 and have never won a regional title for girls basketball. Isabel Scales is the do-it-all point guard for the Comets averaging 15.5 points, 8.7 boards, 3.6 assists, 4.2 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game (all team leads). Caston will be heavily favored in this game. 

As for Northfield (10-12), they’ll be bigger underdogs against Clinton Central (23-1) @ Bellmont, even though Northfield is 2-0 all-time against these Bulldogs. They’ll need Hannah Holmes (14.1 points and 11.0 boards) to be excellent in the post and the Nose somehow have to contain Senior power forward Sara Parkinson who is averaging 17.6 points and 6.5 boards per game. 

Unfortunately, I don’t see either local team getting past regionals, which would mean the end of Bethany’s bid to back to back state finals appearances. The Bruins need another insane performance from Zoe Willems and Mariah Stoltzfus to have a chance. 

Caston by 6

Clinton Central by 20

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