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Prep hoops: 5 things we will learn this weekend

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For complete coverage of high school basketball, follow The News-Sentinel crew via Twitter at www.Twitter.com/prephoops_ns and Justin Kenny at www.Twitter.com/jkenny_ns

Pair of SAC teams try and stay undefeated; IU commit Blackmon Jr. visits South Side

Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 12:01 am

With all due respect to Old Man Winter and his ridiculous snowstorm and low temperatures he sent this week, it is time to refocus on what really matters in January – the start of the second half of the prep basketball season.

While the girls season is well into its second half, the boys campaign is just heating up.

This week has had next to zero on-court action, with the winter storm forcing the cancellation of some compelling nonconference games throughout the area.

But here's hoping for a weekend of hoops that goes off without a hitch, with the SAC boys-girls doubleheaders Friday and the NHC and ACAC girls league play Friday followed by the boys Saturday.

Here are five things to watch over the next few days:

1. Will the Bishop Dwenger boys stay undefeated in the SAC?

The last time the Saints began a season 3-0 in the conference was 2006-07. That team lost just once in the league and won the SAC crown with an 8-1 record.

Could this year's team be on the same pace? While too soon to tell, the Saints have a chance to get to 3-0 in the SAC with a victory over Bishop Luers (4-2) on Friday night at home.

Class 3A No. 13 Bishop Dwenger (5-1) has not overwhelmed its opponents this season as much as it has out-executed and fundamentally beaten down the opposition. Senior Michael Fiacable has been the Saints' passionate leader, but not necessarily on the scoreboard. Grady Eifert is the best player in the city whom nobody has heard of, and Kyle Hartman, Jeff Mugg and Ryan Christman are all capable of going off offensively.

Bishop Luers has had a good start to a rebuilding year, but the Knights have played just one team with an above-.500 record, and that was a 41-point loss to North Side in the SportONE SAC Holiday Basketball Tournament.

2. Will the North Side boys stay undefeated in the SAC?

If there is a team that the majority of the Redskins' varsity roster feels that they “owe,” it may just be Wayne. The Generals have knocked off North Side three of the last four meetings, including two straight a year ago, first in the SAC holiday tournament then a league defeat just over a week later.

But Wayne also has some motivation for Friday's game between the two squads. The Generals lost to Northrop in their SAC opener before responding with a victory over Snider, a team that turned around and beat coach Aaron Rehrer's squad in the holiday tournament.

North Side (11-1) can beat teams inside and out, which presents a problem for Wayne, a team lacking of any real depth and size on the inside. The perimeter battles will be heated with the Redskins going up against the three Mitchells – Levi, Justin and Jescus.

A defeat of North Side, considered by many to be the conference favorite, would open up a wealth of possibilities over the final month of the SAC slate. Wayne (5-2) would like nothing more than to be the team to hand the Redskins that loss.

3. How will the SAC fare in back-to-backs?

Not only will SAC boys teams compete in league play Friday night, but five squads will turn around and play nonconference games Saturday, all at home.

Highlighting the schedule is Class 3A No. 2 Bowman Academy (9-2), a team led by a pair of Division I prospects in senior forward Justin King and junior forward Davon Dillard.

The Bruins (4-5) lost to Bowman Academy last year by just one point, but it could be tough to replicate that performance with the amount of inexperience Northrop has. But the youth is starting to grow up, and there is no better barometer than taking on arguably the best team in Class 3A outside of maybe Greensburg.

The traveling circus of Marion boys basketball comes to South Side on Saturday night. The Archers may be wise to back off their up-tempo style at least for one night. If they run, Indiana recruit James Blackmon Jr. could go off for 60 points, and that's not an exaggeration.

Another interesting matchup will be Blackhawk Christian at Concordia Lutheran, with the Braves putting a scare into North Side earlier this year and defeating Class 4A New Castle in late December.

Other nonconference games Saturday include Indianapolis Broad Ripple at North Side and Muncie South at Bishop Luers.

4. Which boys team gets early 2014 momentum in the NHC, Carroll or Norwell?

The Chargers quietly put together a one-loss December that included a Carroll Shootout championship after Christmas. The lone defeat came by four to Homestead, which is not a bad loss at all.

Now, Carroll (7-3) will put its five-game winning streak – its largest since 2011 – on the line Saturday night at Norwell in a key NHC showdown.

The Knights enter the weekend with a 5-3 record, with a pair of losses to Class 4A teams at the Bob Wettig Tournament and an overtime defeat to Bishop Dwenger. In other words, Norwell is stronger than people give it credit for.

Carroll blew the Knights out of the gym last year in a 22-point rout at Carroll Fieldhouse, but this game will be at Norwell with a good crowd expected.

This game could come down to how well each team shares the offensive load. Both squads have guys capable of going off, but this should be a back-and-forth game where the extra pass could make all the difference.

5. Who wins the girls SAC holiday tournament title game rematch?

When South Side and Concordia Lutheran face off Friday night in "The Cage," it will have been just 13 days between meetings after the Archers won the SAC holiday tournament crown with a 59-51 victory Dec. 28.

Now the Cadets (10-3) will look for a way to knock off South Side and stay undefeated in the SAC.

The Archers (9-4) straight outworked Concordia in the holiday tournament final, particularly in the paint on the boards. Second-chance points were decidedly in favor of coach Juanita Goodwell's team.

Concordia also needs to find some secondary scoring. DeJour Young and Courtney Smith are phenomenal players, but they need some help on the offensive end. They can do a lot, but they cannot do it all.