Here are five things surrounding prep basketball in the Fort Wayne area that fans will learn this weekend:
1. Will an underdog win the SAC Holiday Tourney? This tournament never seems to have the two highest-ranked teams playing in the championship. Over the course of a few days, a lot of things can happen when the eight schools of the SAC get together. South Side under former coach Ryan Bond used to consistently come out of nowhere and compete for the title, while Harding, even when not a high seed, was always a tough out. Do not be surprised to see a few upsets along the way to Saturday's final, weather permitting of course.
2. Who wins the Carroll Shootout? One of the biggest hoops events of the season, let alone the holidays, begins on Friday and concludes Saturday. Altogether, 24 games will be played, 12 each day, with a winner being crowned on Saturday night. Among the teams competing are Columbia City, Homestead, Marion and Blackhawk Christian. If you want to watch hoops for two days straight, get out to Carroll this weekend.
3. How do the Bruins look against elite competition? If Northrop is going to compete for a state championship, it is going to have to step out of the area and beat some big-time programs away from home in the postseason. Coach Barak Coolman's team gets a chance to do just that on Friday at the Hall of Fame Classic in New Castle. Northrop (6-1) will take on Trey Lyles and fifth-ranked Indianapolis Tech in the first game, then play either Cathedral or Jay County in game two. We will know a lot more about the makeup of this year's Northrop squad after Friday.
4. Is the ACAC better than it looks? So far this season, teams from the NHC and SAC are a combined 48-27 out of conference. Meanwhile, the ACAC has gone just 17-25, one of the lowest-ranked leagues in the entire state. The conference has a chance to up those numbers this weekend with no league games but plenty of interleague games. Just two teams, Adams Central and Woodlan, are currently above .500 out of eight in the conference. We will see if that number is higher in a few days
5. Can New Haven bounce back? The Bulldogs dropped a close one to Northrop last week, and will have had to wait eight days to return to competition when it takes part in the Noblesville Tournament on Saturday. This four-team tournament is loaded with talent, with undefeated teams South Bend Adams and Hammond Noll taking part as well as Noblesville, a team that knocked off Homestead earlier this season. Keep an eye on the scores coming out of this one, they should be very telling.