- Central Noble
- West Noble
- Prairie Heights
*Hamilton’s conference games won’t count toward the NECC race. So Hamilton will be exempt this year
As we transition to hoops season, this is my preseason girls basketball power poll for the NECC. Fairfield returns a lot of major pieces from last season led by Brea Garber, but the bench remains some questions to how many reliable options can be expanded off the bench. They’ll be favored but not necessarily a unanimous favorite.
Central Noble several key kids led by Madison Vice and Meghan Kiebel, as well as a talented sophomore class. Angola has the same with Kylie Caswell, Lexi Stillman, and a nice sophomore and junior class of their own. Garrett lost some depth from last season, but they have Bailey Kelham and Bishop Dwenger transfer Maddy Schenkel to lead the way.
Eastside’s “mucky ball” defense will keep them competitive in the NECC, but will sophomore Paige Traxler and senior Grace Kreischer help to get some offensive consistency and help them stay hungry for some hardware? Lakeland returns and even adds talent led by Peyton Hartsough and Alivia Rasler, as well as Northwood/Northridge transfer Olivia Oman who can fire shots with range. But with no Faith Riehl this season, can they get that production out of their frontcourt?
There are all kinds of questions we still don’t know about the NECC right now.
SuperSam’s 5 Picks of the Week
Because it’s the first week, my breakdowns will be much more brief.
11/3/22 Garrett @ Woodlan
This is my NECC Game of the Week for the ANEC, and it’s one super interesting matchup between two talented teams. Garrett has Kelham and Schenkel, but other kids like Aida Haynes, Brooklyn Jacobs, Emma LaPato, and Kelsey Bergman still give Garrett some toughness and athleticism to make this a tough team to play against.
On the other hand, Woodlan has 7 strong seniors led by one of the area’s most dominant power forwards in Avah Smith. This is also the farewell season for Gary Cobb as he looks to make this season extra special.
So you have the talent and shooting of Garrett vs the size and wingspan of Woodlan. This is why it’s such a tough game.
Players to Watch
Garrett: Maddy Schenkel Sr. PG
Woodlan: Taylor Knuebuhler Jr F
I’ll take Garrett by 3
11/4/22 Lakeland @ DeKalb
This is one game that isn’t a football game as this quietly gets some interesting headlines with Lakeland’s senior class, and the emerging core at DeKalb with Ashley and Delaney Cox, along with Lillie Cone. These are two different styles of basketball as Lakeland plays a more aggressive style of basketball and will attack the paint hard, while DeKalb seems to try to be more patient and control the clock more efficiently.
Neither of these teams are very consistent, but someone has to come out with the win. While not having Riehl hurts Lakeland’s post presence, there are some nice kids for the Lakers including a freshman Lila Katelyn Ryan. Because I’ve seen more good things out of Lakeland so far, I like the Lakers in a close one.
Players to Watch
Lakeland: Peyton Hartsough Sr. Combo Guard
DeKalb: Delaney Cox Sr. Forward
Lakeland by 6
Eastside @ Adams Central
There’s a nice little rivalry in the NECC-ACAC crossover as the Blazers make the drive south to the Hanger to face a inexperienced Jets team. It’s the veteran vs the youth in this matchup, but still has the makings for being a defensive showdown.
The question will be can the Jets’ “upside shooting” be enough to overcome the mistakes they’ll probably make on their first game? That will have to happen against the Blazers’ gritty defense.
Players to Watch:
Eastside: Grace Kreischer Sr. Combo Forward
Adams Central: Athena Schwartz Junior Combo Guard
Eastside by 12
Northridge @ Lakeland
This is an excellent test for Lakeland on their home opener, but mannnnn Northridge is tough and fast. If you don’t know how these kids ball in Middlebury, you’re sadly stealing your own joy. Northridge is a basketball factory in Elkhart County that has Eva Fisher leading the way, and expect Morgan Cross and Gabby Gates to have big games.
My concern with Lakeland is the ability to stretch the frontcourt into defending the high post, which Faith would have been a good option to have. Unfortunately, they’ll have to rely on a less athletic but still a relatively tough group of forwards to get the job done. That’s going to be extremely tough against Northridge’s physicality and speed.
Players to Watch:
Northridge: Eva Fisher Sr. Combo Guard
Lakeland: Alivia Rasler Sr. Combo Guard
Northridge by 14
Bishop Luers @ Central Noble
This is a great basketball game at “The Jungle” as Luers and CN have quietly been competitive games in the past, especially when they’re at CN, where Luers has never won a girls’ basketball game.
Luers aims for win number 100 under Mark Pixley, and this is a team with tremendous size led by junior Addie Shank and sophomore Reese Rhodehamel. But with a kid like South Side transfer Annika Davis, that only adds an extra weapon to Luers’ arsenal and forces CN under first year Head Coach Sam Malcolm to plan accordingly.
Central Noble is no slouch with two dynamic players in Madison Vice running the point guard slot as an incredible playmaker and defensive bulldog, and the play of Meghan Kiebel who brings tremendous competitive spirit and the ability to play everywhere on the floor.
Now, you have to respect the role players at CN. Junior Makenna Malcolm is a Garrett transfer, and she will be the “third wheel” at CN that can make big baskets and play elite defense as a guard. The underclassmen are interesting and talented. Grace Swank is a 6’0 freshman that I had the pleasure to see some games when she was in middle school, and she’s a beast at defending the rim, but I’m curious to see how her offense translates to high school basketball.
The sophomores are pretty solid with Avery Deter being the most gifted shooter of the class. Kennedy Vice is a tough nosed kid and gets tough rebounds. Kierra Bolen is one of CN’s most versatile defenders in that class.
Taylor Custer is probably the kid no one knows about, but colleges are seeing her upside, and she does have “interest” from Anderson. She does have basketball talent, and it doesn’t surprise me considering another Custer (Krista Custer) played a small role on the first two recent winning seasons in 2015-16 and 2016–17.
Man, people don’t talk enough about this game.
Players to Watch:
Luers: Addie Shank Jr. PF
CN: Madison Vice Sr. PG
CN makes it close because this team is always tough to play against, but I think Luers gets it done and gives Pixley win number 100.