SHOOTER: Trip to Albion for Central Noble turns into an Angola lovefest

Angola senior Regan Peppler works the ball towards the basket as Central Noble sophomore Sam Brumbaugh defends during Friday's game in Albion. (By Justin Kenny of
Angola junior Gabriela McHugh gets a shot off over Central Noble's Meleah Leatherman during Friday's game in Albion. (By Justin Kenny of
Senior Ali Cranston of Angola dribbles to the hoop against Central Noble on Friday. (By Justin Kenny of
Central Noble's Meleah Leatherman was held in check for most of Friday's game against Angola. The junior finished with nine points. (By Justin Kenny of

ALBION — It’s not all about the city teams when it comes to what interests this frog on the hardwood.

Question: How many people out there realize that Central Noble was a game away from the state championship a season ago?

I went up to Albion on Friday night to check out the undefeated Cougars, who lost to Oak Hill in the semistate last year, and left being much more impressed with their opponent.

Angola’s 46-30 victory over previously-undefeated Central Noble was an eye-opener, especially after the Hornets were maimed in a 20-point loss to Fairfield just three days before.

It’s not too hard to figure out what makes or breaks Angola under coach Brandon Appleton.

Friday’s win came down to defense.

Tuesday’s loss came down to defense, or lack thereof.

“We forgot about playing defense,” said Appleton about what the problem was in the Fairfield debacle. “We forgot about what has made us who we are.”

Angola (9-2) regained that knowledge on Friday. Central Noble’s big junior duo of Sydney Freeman and Meleah Leatherman were hounded at every opportunity on Friday. Neither were never able to get into a rhythm offensively. Freeman led all scorers with 15 points, but half of those were scored on easy lay-ups in the second quarter when the Hornets struggled with lazy passes that turned into turnovers.

Leatherman was held to nine points, battling double teams and busy Angola defensive hands every time she touched the ball.

One year after being held to 25 points in a seven-point loss to the Hornets, Central Noble (6-1) managed just 30 in another defeat.

“We know their two big horses,” Appleton said. “Our plan was to do whatever we could do to slow them down and to make their life tough. Our girls executed that.”

Meanwhile, Angola did enough offensively to get the job done, led by sophomore Ally Lorntz, who scored 11 points.

“We got some girls that can put the ball in the basket, but a lot of what we do is predicated on how we play defensively,” Appleton said.

The Hornets (9-2) may already have a loss in the Northeast Corner Conference, but there is plenty of basketball ahead. With Central Noble’s loss, Fairfield is the lone undefeated team left in the league. Angola won the conference going a perfect 11-0 last season, but Appleton does not expect anyone to do that this year.

“We knew going into this season…going undefeated was going to be real difficult,” Appleton said. “So coming out here on the road and showing we hate to lose (is big).

“Hopefully, somebody can knock Fairfield off.”

You can be this frog will be keeping a close eye on Angola, Central Noble and the rest of the NECC the rest of the way. Who knows, he may hop outside the Fort Wayne city limits again a time or two this season.