- Fairfield 2-0
- Central Noble 1-0
- Garrett 0-1
- Angola 0-0
- Eastside 1-0
- Churubusco 2-1
- Lakeland 0-2
- Westview 0-1
- Fremont 0-0
- Prairie Heights 0-1
- West Noble 0-1
We are officially one week into the season, and the headlines surrounding the NECC still leave us with so many questions on the rest of the conference’s ability to contend with Fairfield. Here’s a brief recap on Week 1 of NECC girls’ basketball.
It began with the Fighting Gaerte’s and the Busco Lady Eagles as they showed tremendous promise in all three games, even in their 55-49 loss to Bishop Dwenger and Giselle Eke. The 43-40 win @ Lakewood Park two nights later shows that Busco is capable of winning close games. Garrett had an opening week classic on SummitCitySports as Hunter Sosenheimer called the action of what ended up being an impressive 37-36 Woodlan win that felt like a postseason game. While Bailey Kelham is maybe the best all-around scorer in the NECC, can the rest of the team find their mojo in time for Angola two weeks from today?
Fairfield is 2-0 following dominant wins where they won by an average margin of 34.5 points. However, Jimtown has not been relevant in a dozen years, and Northfield is in a rebuild. The tougher games start this week, most notably with a heated rival in the Goshen Lady Redhawks. Shoutout to Eastside on an impressive 58-46 win at Adams Central led by Grace Kreischer with 24 points, 14 boards, and 4 blocks. Grace is one kid that deserves more love, and I think the hype in Butler is just getting started.
Here’s a look at my notable picks
SuperSam’s 5 NECC Picks of the Week
As we get to December, the breakdowns will be much more in depth with more detail. However, we are still in what I call the “acquaintance phase” of the girls’ basketball. There are plenty of teams we just don’t know that well right now. So, I will do my best to forecast these next five games.
Last week, I went 2-3, which is subpar by my standards. But hopefully I bounce back with my superpower basketball knowledge.
Tuesday Nov. 8
Angola @ 1-0 Carroll
When it comes to this matchup, you know both teams will always have the athletes and talent to compete with anybody on paper. The last time these two teams met, Angola actually had to play that game without Head Coach Nick Burlingame as Carroll held on to a 62-58 win at Angola.
Make no mistake. Carroll looks a whole lot better than we’re giving them credit for. Despite graduation and transfers impacting the roster and depth, Carroll hardly missed a beat against Columbia City as they won a very entertaining offensive slugfest 67-61. Kayla Gibbs and Taylor Fordyce both had 20 points, and Jersey Paul had 15, but the defense made plays when they had to, and the freshmen and sophomores contributed nicely against a very talented Lady Eagles’ squad. Can Angola be able to successfully run their press on this Carroll team?
Angola clearly has the athletes led by Kylie Caswell and Macy Oberlin, where you can see an improved chemistry with each other. But last year’s team was decimated with injuries and inconsistency. The end to last season showed some hope of what they can be this season, and Nick speaks highly of this season’s team, calling them “selfless and more cohesive”. Whether that leads to more success is here and there, but he does have a solid sophomore class to complement the key players well.
That being said, their Novembers are always stacked with very strong teams. Carroll’s firing on all cylinders.
Players to Watch
Angola: Ava Rinard Sophomore Small Forward
Carroll: Jersey Paul Sophomore Shooting Guard
Carroll by 14
Thursday Nov. 10
1-0 East Noble @ 1-0 Central Noble (Battle of Noble County)
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the Battle of Noble County is a low-key fun game to watch for the fans up in the rural part of the 260. Central Noble has two legit star talents in the Siena Heights commit, Madison Vice, and the fiery competitor in Meghan Kiebel. Kiebel had 20 points and 8 boards in a very impressive 46-39 win over Bishop Luers and holding Addie Shank to 10 points and 18 boards and Annika Davis to 5 points.
I like the toughness and compete level of Makenna Malcolm at guard, as well as the size and defensive awareness of 6’0 freshman Grace Swank (this is CN’s first true center for GBB since Meleah (Leatherman) Kunkel). Now we will see how they can take that confidence into this matchup with county rival East Noble.
East Noble dominated Westview 53-37 led by Kya Mosley’s 13 points and 9 boards, Bailea Bortner’s 13, and Bree Walmsley was flirting a triple double with 6 points, 6 boards, and 6 assists. However, this is a big step up in competition, which bodes nicely for their preparation for the brutality of NE8 basketball. Fun Fact: Shawn Kimmel was the varsity assistant coach during CN’s lone state championship in 2017-18.
Players to Watch:
EN: Bailea Bortner Junior Shooting Guard
CN: Meghan Kiebel Senior Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Central Noble by 10
Saturday Nov. 12
1-0 Goshen @ 2-0 Fairfield
Separated by just six miles apart, the Battle of Goshen is always a very competitive rivalry, and Fairfield loves to play their neighboring NLC rivals to get them prepared for NECC basketball. Shaun Hill’s team came away with a 46-22 win over LaPorte where they had 36 rebounds, 11 steals, and 3 blocks against the Slicers. Junior Kyra Hill, the sister of Illinois Girls’ basketball player and Goshen alum Brynn Shoup-Hill, is a fascinating player as a combo 6’2 forward that also can play center. Hill had 12 points (3-14 from the field), 5-5 from the FT line, 12 boards, 3 assists, and 2 blocks.
Fairfield is getting some solid contributions from freshman Eva Herbert, senior Bailey Willard, and junior Kaylee Dillon (all without Morgan Gawthrop who hasn’t played a game yet due to an ankle injury). But when it comes down to making big plays at the biggest of spotlights, it starts and ends with the IWU commit, Brea Garber. Garber now has 975 career points following her 21-point effort at Northfield Saturday. Garber also had 4 boards, 6 assists, and 5 steals, making her the most talented big girl from the NECC.
The question will be: Does Goshen’s frontcourt have an answer for the physicality and toughness of Fairfield? We will find out.
Players to Watch
Goshen: Kyra Hill Junior Combo Forward
Fairfield: Brea Garber Senior Combo Forward
Fairfield by 7
1-0 Northridge @ 0-1 Garrett
It is shocking these two have never met in girls’ basketball, but we will get to see these two grind it out at Paul Bateman Gymnasium between two excellent programs. The Raiders, out of Middlebury, IN, are an Elkhart County basketball factory where championships are the standard for the Raiders’ basketball programs.
Northridge completely dominated Lakeland in every facet during their 60-29 win that Saturday night: 47% from the field, 80% from the FT line, 13 assists, 35 rebounds, 11 steals, and 2 blocks, Eva Fisher led a balanced scoring attack with 19 points, 3-6 from 3, 4 boards, 4 assists, and 6 deflections. A Critical matchup will come down to the battle between Kelsey Bergman of Garrett and Morgan Cross from Northridge in the post.
Garrett, on the other hand, looked mostly like a team playing their first game of the season with players that were new to their roles under Bob Lapadot. Despite an egregious 18 turnovers, Garrett nearly completed a 9-point comeback in a 37-36 loss at Woodlan Last Thursday night.
Bailey Kelham was in her zone that night with 24 points, 10-15 shooting (67% from the field), 4-5 from downtown, 7 boards, and 4 (Yes! 4) Blocks against Woodlan. The defense played well as a team, but the offense was a whole another story. Outside of Kelham, the rest of the team scored 12 points, 4-20 shooting (20% from the field), and 0-9 from downtown.
With Garrett, health is so important to get these players to buy in and feeling comfortable to Bob Lapadot’s scheme, but you have to love their efforts on defense.
Players to Watch
Northridge: Morgan Cross Junior Combo Guard
Garrett: Kelsey Bergman Junior Power Forward/Center
Northridge by 6
1-0 Norwell @ Angola (NECC Game of the Week)
It is really hard to forecast how this game will go because we don’t really know how much Angola has improved until they get to tonight’s game with Carroll. Despite Norwell winning all four meetings with Angola, these games are always down to the wire.
Norwell looked extremely impressive in their 61-47 win over a talented Warsaw Tigers’ squad. Kennedy Fuelling and Makenzie Fuess combined for 46 of their 61 points as they flexed their muscles and sent a message to the 260 that this is ONE SCARY BACKCOURT DUO. But what’s more impressive was their aggression on defense (with their 1-3-1) makes that transition game that much more effective. By the way, shoutout to Warsaw sophomore Brooke Winchester and freshman Brooke Zartman aka the Zart Dart as they led the way against Norwell with 19 and 18 points respectively and a combined 21 rebounds.
As for Angola, this is a team that needs to have a better showing on offense in order to make their press and the 1-2-2 trap defense to perform at its highest. At times last year, they just looked sloppy on offense, and that puts too much pressure on their defense to be exceptional every time.
While Kylie Caswell and Macy Oberlin are crucial to Angola’s success, I am curious to see how Bailey Holman and Ava RInard fit into this lineup.
Players to Watch:
Norwell: Kennedy Fuelling Junior Shooting Guard
Angola: Kylie Caswell Junior Combo Guard