Here are five things that Fort Wayne-area prep basketball fans will learn this weekend.
1. A girls' sectional champion at Homestead
Cali Casaburo's 3-point heroics led Homestead to a one-point victory over South Side in late-December. The two programs are on a collision course to meet in the sectional finals on Saturday night. Combined, the teams have combined for just four losses since that game on Dec. 20. Both need to win on Friday night in the semifinals to set up the title game showdown, but that could be a mere technicality. The Spartans and Archers have combined to win the last six sectionals, and that trend should continue. Just a suggestion for South Side, however, make sure to cover Casaburo off the bench.
2. A girls sectional champion at Bishop Dwenger
By composite record, the field at the Class 3A Bishop Dwenger Sectional is the toughest in the state. Barring any semifinal upsets, Concordia Lutheran and Angola will meet on Saturday night for the sectional title. The Hornets have not won a crown in 10 years, while the Cadets have been regulars when it comes to deep runs in the postseason. Concordia looked shaky in the first half against Leo on Tuesday but turned it around after half. Angola senior Rachel Rinehart against the quick backcourt of the Cadets will be a great matchup.
3. Can the SAC raise its non-conference profile?
There is no question that the balance in the SAC this season has been the best it has been in recent years, but how do the teams match up out-of-conference? The truth is, decent but not spectacular. Entering today's games, the SAC is 15th amongst conferences in the state in overall record at 35-26, good for a 57 percent winning percentage. That ranks below the NHC, which is ninth with a mark of 48-29 (62 percent). Sure, the SAC beats up on each other every Friday night, but you obviously need to beat other teams to make deep runs in the tournament. The SAC is without a team in the state finals since 2009, the longest drought since class basketball was adopted prior to the 1997-98 season. There is elite talent in the SAC, but are there elite teams?
4. Is James Blackmon Jr. still unstoppable?
The junior is averaging over 36 points per game this season for Bishop Luers, and he has shown no signs of slowing down. He is emerging more and more as a player who will be a pure scoring threat at the next level. Indiana is attempting to recruit a pure point guard in the Class of 2014 to partner up with Blackmon Jr. as the backcourt of the future for the Hoosiers. This year's six-player haul is loaded with height, with just one player (Stanford Robinson out of Nevada), the lone prospect not listed as a forward or center. Yogi Ferrell will likely not last four years at Indiana, so the point guard position will be up for grabs in 2014 or at the latest 2015. Barring any recruiting setbacks, JBJ is clearly a 2-guard at the prep and collegiate levels. His shooting ability continues to improve and he could be downright scary as a senior next year, if he isn't scary already. The Knights play twice in the coming days, can JBJ keep up his impressive scoring pace?
5. Can Bluffton share in the spoils?
Heritage took some of the sizzle out of today's Leo-Bluffton showdown in knocking off the Tigers last Saturday, but there is still plenty of intrigue around this game. If the Lions win, they go undefeated in the ACAC and win the league outright, while if Bluffton wins, the teams tie for the title with identical 6-1 league records. The Tigers have beaten Leo four of the last five meetings and have been stout at home recently in the series. This one could go either way, but should be close throughout.