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SuperSam’s Top 10 Area Basketball Games (Week of Jan. 20, 2024)

Photo Taken by Fairfield Athletics

We are truly in the second half of the basketball season, which means we have some huge games that could impact conference races moving forward. With two weeks of regular season girls basketball left, and a little over a month of boys basketball regular season games left, every game matters that much more. 

Congrats to the Jay County girls and Adams Central boys’ basketball teams on winning their ACAC tournaments, and a big congrats to the Eastside girls and Fairfield boys’ teams on winning their NECC Tournaments. Let’s see what SuperSam has to say for this week’s picks. 

Girls Basketball 


(11-8, 6-1 NECC) Central Noble @ (17-3, 7-0 NECC) Fairfield

Series in the Last 20 Years: 18-7 Fairfield

What was originally a Tuesday night game was moved to Wednesday due to the weather forcing the NECC to reschedule the NECC Tournament games to last night (Monday). This matchup in Benton, IN has major implications in this conference race. 

One, Central Noble is very much in the hunt for a share of an NECC title. It’s highly unlikely we will see an outright champion if CN wins this game, but we could see upwards of a 3-team share if they can pull off an upset. That said, this Fairfield team is quite strong on both ends of the floor. 

While they had to replace some talent with a new head coach, this team continues to find success under Kyle Hartman. Sophomore Eva Herbert has emerged as a rising star in the making for the Lady Falcons, and Kaylee Dillon has had a great senior season as one of their starting guards. 

However, Fairfield will need to shoot a lot better than 18% in this game to stay within the lead in the NECC race, and they’ll need a better job boxing out in this game. 

Given how disappointed in the outcome of the NECC tournament title game, I look for Fairfield to bounce back in a big way. 

Players to Watch

CN: Grace Swank Sophomore Power Forward/Center

Fairfield: Eva Herbert Sophomore Guard/Forward 

Fairfield by 6

(11-6, 2-2 NE8) East Noble @ (12-6, 1-3 NE8) DeKalb 

Series in the Last 20 Years: 12-11 EN

The big rivalry across the Noble and DeKalb county borders is one of the greatest rivalries in Northeast Indiana historically: East Noble and DeKalb. 

Both teams have seen a resurgence on the win-loss column with the talent showcasing a bright future for both teams. East Noble, under Britain Isaacs, has experienced a team full of athletes, grit, and solid team basketball with basketball talent. The game changers have been a breakout senior season of Payton Quake, and the freshmen trio Rian David, Averi Amstutz, and Elli Will. 

On DeKalb’s end, defense has won the Barons a lot of games over the last couple seasons, but it helps that Ashley Cox is 2nd in the conference in scoring at 20 points per game and averaging nearly 10 boards. Lately, however, the Barons are starting to find some depth to help her out led by freshman Abbie Harris, Sam Slavin, and Baylee Doster. 

The keys are going to be which team can defend the rim the best and which team is able to score in the paint. Points could come at a premium in this game, but I have the Knights escaping with a close win in Waterloo. 

Players to Watch

EN: Payton Quake Senior Forward 

DeKalb: Ashley Cox Junior Point Guard 

East Noble by 3


(8-11, 2-4 SAC) Bishop Dwenger @ 2A #16 (11-6, 3-4 SAC) Bishop Luers 

Series in the Last 20 Years: 27-4 Luers

The Battle of the Bishops take place at Luers with a 6pm tip-off for girls basketball taking place between these two schools. 

Dwenger comes into this week winners in 4 of their last 7 games, including a 60-55 win over SAC rival Carroll. Dwenger is a team that strongly emphasizes in fundamentals, team defense, and being able to attack the paint. And that mindset is led by the Eke sisters: Giselle and Izzy and Mary O’Brien. Giselle is a future Saint Francis Red Flash over in Pennsylvania, and her work in the post crates several matchup problems for a lot of teams in this area. 

The big challenge however is the fact they are going against a Bishop Luers team that averages over 35 boards per game led by future Huntington Forester Addie Shank, and Miley Wareing. I look for Shank to have a big game in the glass in that game to get the guards opportunities to get shots to fall. Luers only shot 20% from the floor in the 52-48 loss to Carroll last Friday. So. look for them to improve on that. 

If Luers can win the rebound battle and shoot the ball better, I like their chances. 

Players to Watch

Dwenger: Giselle Eke Senior Center (Saint Francis PA Commit)

Luers: Addie Shank Senior Power Forward (Huntington Commit) 

Luers by 12

(11-8, 6-1 NECC) Central Noble @ 2A #7 (17-3, 6-1 NECC) Eastside

Series in the Last 20 Years: 17-9 CN

This is another massive game in the NECC race as Central Noble goes into Butler to take on the Eastside Lady Blazers. CN will look to avenge from a heartbreaking 50-48 loss in the 2nd round of the NECC Tournament at the hands of the Lady Blazers who won this tournament on Monday. 

Eastside, now coming off their first NECC tournament title in 30 years, still has a mathematical shot at winning a share of the NECC title as long as they win outright and CN takes care of business against Fairfield. Either way, it’s still a massive game that could foreshadow for what’s to come in sectionals. 

The key matchup is Grace Swank and Lily Kreischer. Kreischer now leads the NECC in scoring averaging 12.8 points per game, but she does everything on the floor from rebounding to passing to playing strong defense. Eastside needs her on the floor without getting into major foul trouble if they want to be in decent shape against a talented Central Noble team that can knock down shots. 

Swank had a massive performance last season against Eastside leading the sectional semifinal game on both ends of the floor to help the Cougars win that game and ultimately win that sectional. She must have a good all around game to have a chance. I look for Abby Pliett to continue onto her 12.6 point per game average and be a huge part in running their offense and get some 3’s to splash in. 

In the end however, the Blazing home cooking will be just a little too much for the Cougars. 

Players to Watch

CN: Grace Swank Sophomore Power Forward/Center 

Eastside: Lily Kreischer Junior Combo Forward

Eastside by 4


4A # 12 (19-2) Northridge @ 4A #4 (16-2) Snider

Series in the Last 20 Years: 6-4 Northridge

This is a spicy out of conference matchup before the sectional draw as NLC power Northridge travels to play Snider. The Lady Raiders have played a very balanced schedule both within the Elkhart area as well as the 260. This is a team with a whole lot of depth, size, and they are extremely physical. They’ll knock down shots and get after it defensively. This is a team that you got to be ready to defend every player that is on the floor. 

Snider will accept this challenge coming off an impressive 60-52 comeback win over the Homestead Spartans where Jordyn Poole shined bright in that game with 24 points, 3 assists, and 4 steals. This game will really bode down to which team does the best job executing their offense and containing their top players the best. Defense and sharing the ball are going to be crucial in this game. 

I like Snider in a pretty competitive game. 

Players to Watch

Northridge: Ella Mohamed Junior Combo Guard

Snider: Nae Nae Donahue Senior Shooting Guard (Bowling Green Commit)

Snider by 7

Boys Basketball 


(5-5, 1-2 SAC) Bishop Dwenger @ 2A #3 (11-1, 3-0 SAC) Bishop Luers

Series in the Last 35 Years: 42-23 Luers

Much like with the boys’ contest, the Battle of the Bishops continue on the boys’ end where Dwenger comes in with wins in 3 of their last 5 games. Nothing comes flashy with Coach Kostoff’s Saints, but it’s a team that plays hard and crashes the glass extremely well. 

For Luers, Coach Coffing’s Knights sit in a good spot with wins in their last 5 games after the shocking 54-52 loss to Northridge back in that Dec. 28 tournament at LaPorte. Coming off a 69-60 win at Jay County, Luers’ two star twins Dereon and Drelyn Truesdale combined for 34 points in the win. 

Expect this game to be significantly tougher than what many people might expect on paper. Dwenger knows this week is their most important one of the season other than the state tournament. If Dwenger has any chance at this SAC race, they have to play exceptional starting tonight against Wayne. 

I see this game tighter than one would expect, but Luers’ explosive talent and athleticism might be a little too much for the Saints. Saints will need strong games from Lehrman and Aslan Nolan to have a shot. 

Players to Watch

Dwenger: Caleb Lehrman Senior Center

Luers: Dereon Truesdale Junior Guard

Luers by 10

(8-9, 3-1) Homestead @ (10-4, 2-1 SAC) North Side 

Series in the Last 35 Years: 12-11 Homestead

This is a very interesting matchup that we will see at North Side. Homestead by their usual standards has been seen as a disappointing team this season. However, when you factor in what they’ve dealt with before and during the season, especially with the youth movement with Sparty, it’s very understandable to why they have dealt with a .500 season. 

In the 68-49 loss to Columbia City on Tuesday, Sparty hung around for 3 quarters only to see the experienced and battle-tested Eagles pull away in the end. If Homestead has any chance of making this a close game, it’s going to come down to fundamentals and a tough defense. Chris Johnson just recently picked up his 500th win and with good reason. You don’t underestimate excellent coaching. 

One player to watch with Sparty is Wyatt Weaver who had 32 points in the 71-53 win over Snider last Friday. 

From their days in the NHC, I have always learned to never ever underestimate Homestead. With that in mind, North Side is a very good team that Coach Andrews is coaching. People are so quick to talk about Jaxon Fugate and Eric Young Jr. Yes, they’re excellent kids on this team. But this team has so, so much more potential than that. 

Case in point to Javion Davenport who’s 4th in the area in assists with 4.2. That’s Selfless basketball in a nutshell. Maximus Goheen has max potential as a star in the making for the next 3 years. Tyvon Alexander is another freshman with all kinds of potential as well. And don’t forget Purdue football commit Jordan King can hoop too. 

The big thing is if North can play their style, be aggressive, and limit the mistakes, the Legends have more than enough firepower to win this game. 

Players to Watch

Homestead: Wyatt Weaver Junior Guard

North Side: Eric Young Jr. Senior Combo Forward

We the North by 8

(9-3) Westview @ 3A #11 (10-3) Fairfield 

Series in the Last 35 Years: 46-20 Westview

This is the NECC Game of the Week at Around the Northeast Corner, and many have debated this to be “The Greatest Rivalry in NECC History”. These are the two best basketball teams in the conference historically and this season. 

Fairfield is coming off an absolutely dominant NECC tournament despite a mentally challenging schedule and a weird string of circumstances with the schedule due to Mother Nature. Fairfield won all 4 of their games by double figures, which includes their first meeting with Westview 58-46 at the Falcons’ Nest. In that game, Mitchell Miller dropped 23 points in that game. Carson Smith had 18 in the 60-38 title game win over Angola. 

This is the same Fairfield team that knocked off North Side at Trine one month earlier and showcasing significant improvements with their movement, their shooting ability, and simply taking better care of the basketball. They’re big, physical, athletic, and they can flat out ball. The NECC has not seen a team quite like this one in close to 2 decades. It’s a strong mix of old-school and modern basketball in one.

From Miller and Smith to Tyson Frey, to Noah Mast, to Brant Garber, to Brooks Custer, etc. This is a team that if you don’t match their intensity and execution to detail, they can beat anybody. 

For Westview to be successful in this game, taking care of the basketball is a must and competing in the glass. Westview’s major caveat this season has been their ability to rebound consistently, and unfortunately offensive boards from opposing teams have been a major detriment to Westview’s title odds. It haunt them against Lakeland in the regular season, and at times has put a scare to Westview fans. They know for them to make a run at a NECC regular season title and a sectional title in March, they have to clean up those two areas. 

Otherwise, these two teams matchup pretty well. Both have talented kids that battle hard, they defend well, and they can shoot. The disadvantage is 100%  the size in the frontcourt and rebounding. 

I look for Wyatt Zepp to be a massive player in this matchup because when he’s able to unleash his fury as a player that can do everything beyond his position, it will challenge the length and size of Fairfield. Luke Helmuth was not 100% last week in the NECC tournament, I look for the team to get Helmuth involved on both ends of the floor and give this team a spark. The biggest wild card is Wiley Minix because of his shooting ability. 

Nevertheless, how can I not take Fairfield? They’ve really impressed me over the last 8 games.

Players to Watch

Westview: Wyatt Zepp Senior Forward (Concordia (MI) Commit)

Fairfield: Carson Smith Senior Combo Guard 

Fairfield by 4


(9-1) 2A #10 Adams Central @ (11-2) Manchester

Series in the Last 25 Years: 3-0 AC

If you want a matchup between two teams that score a lot of points and has two dominant power forwards that are two of the best in all of Indiana, this is your game. Adams Central and Manchester average in the upper 60’s in points per game (65 for AC and 67 for Manchester). For the most part, both teams have wiped the competition clean all season long, especially with AC annihilating the 101st ACAC Tournament. 

These two teams have two amazing basketball players and a solid mix of supporting players that deserve respect in their own right. AC in particular is unique because last season they won 20 games for the first time ever with Ethan Poling garnering most of the attention. Now it has shifted to Isaac Schultz who’s been averaging near 25 points per game this season with a roster that looks identical to the team from a year ago. 

On Manchester’s end, junior Gavin Betten leads most categories for the Squires and averaging nearly 22 points per game and 11 boards. For fans that attend the Manchester Jungle in Wabash, all eyes should be on that matchup between Schultz and Betten in the paint. 

I look for the role players to be key in this game. Trace Maller, Braylend Reber, and Micah McClure for the Jets are quietly having incredible seasons. For the Squires, that title belongs to Ethan Hendrix who is also an excellent baseball player.  Both teams average around 30 boards per game and around 18 assists per game. The big challenge however could be the pace and intensity of Adams Central’s offense and defense could create some problems for the Squires. 

This could be a high flying showcase of talent and basketball, but I give the edge to the Jets. 

Players to Watch

AC: Isaac Schultz Senior Power Forward (ONU Commit)

Manchester: Ethan Hendrix Junior Point Guard

J-E-T-S JETS by 5

(7-6, 1-1) East Noble @ (7-5, 2-1) Leo 

Series in the Last 35 Years: 10-7 Leo

This is a fascinating matching at the Lions’ Den as these two teams battle to stay in the hunt for what has been a wild and exciting NE8 boys basketball race. All 8 teams have lost at least one conference game, and aside from New Haven and Huntington North, everyone else is either 1-1 or 2-1 in conference. 

Thanks to Norwell’s 69-63 2OT win over Leo, Columbia City’s dramatic 57-54 win over Bellmont, and Bellmont’s 51-45 win over Norwell, there’s no way to truly predict what could happen next. And that’s also the case with these two teams who have started 2024 colder than an Arctic blizzard, and as cold as it sounds, it’s objectively accurate. 

Since starting the season 6-2, Leo has lost 3 of their last 4 (all 3 of these losses have come by less than 7 points). The Lions are insanely talented led by Jackson McGee averaging 20 points and Trey and Nolan Hiteshew combining for roughly 24 points a game. And you have kids like Sol Richard and Brock Schott that do their jobs very well. Leo unfortunately has an issue of closing out games.

Unfortunately after a 7-3 start, East Noble is not that much different lately. They come into this game with 3 straight losses (no wins in 2024 so far), yet this team at times has shown that when they have all the pieces healthy and playing well can be a good basketball team. Kobe Ritchie has been the straw that stirs the drink in Kendallville, but it also shows with Nate Bowker, Ryker Quake, Owen Van Gessel, and Mason Treesh. While the skid looks doom and gloom, East Noble still has a winning record and very much in the NE8 hunt considering the fact they beat Columbia City 59-56 nearly a month ago. 

The biggest wild cards in this game are which team is able to play 4 quarters of basketball. We know both teams can score inside and out. We know both teams can play hard and defend. These are two experienced basketball teams, especially with Leo. But which team is going to execute their gameplan best will succeed. Keep in mind that last season it came down to the wire for Leo to beat a 4-win EN team 65-64. Expect this game to be tight. 

That said, I gotta take Leo at home. 

Players to Watch

EN: Kobe Ritchie Junior Forward 

Leo: Jackson McGee Senior Combo Guard (Grand Valley State Commit)

Leo by 1



Wed: South Bend Washington @ Northrop: Washington by 3

Wed. Wayne @ Bishop Dwenger: Dwenger by 5

Thur. Eastbrook @ Bluffton: Eastbrook by 14

Fri. Huntington North @ Bellmont: Bellmont by 8

Fri. Leo @ East Noble: Leo by 1


Wed. Wayne @ Bishop Dwenger: Wayne by 10

Fri. Carroll @ South Side: Carroll by 3

Sat. Bellmont @ Huntington North: Bellmont by 6

Sat. Columbia City @ DeKalb: Columbia City by 2

Sat. New Haven @ Norwell: Norwell by 7

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