GIRLS PREP HOOPS: Expanded Power Poll for January 18, 2018

Homestead sophomore Sydney Graber ducks under the Bishop Luers defense for a basket during December's SAC Holiday Tournament. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)

This is a new feature breaking down news-sentinel.com’s prep basketball power polls, as decided by the news-sentinel.com high school basketball team. The news-sentinel.com boys and girls power polls run in print each Thursday on our page inside the sports section of The Journal Gazette.

#1: HOMESTEAD SPARTANS

Record: 17-2

Against Top 10: 6-1

Best win: South Side

Worst loss: Bishop Luers

Next game: Next Game: Friday vs. at North Side, 6 p.m.

Why they are ranked here: For a fleeting second on December 28, a lot of people forgot who Homestead was. The Spartans couldn’t find a way, any way, to catch back up to Bishop Luers in a big SAC Holiday Tournament loss. All they have done since then is score four straight wins over teams with a combined record of 53-27. With their win over South Side, the Spartans reasserted themselves as the team to beat in the SAC. Better for them, sophomore Sydney Graber has reestablished her role and her buzzer beater against Warsaw on Tuesday is a big momentum booster for the Spartans to have a second consistent threat with the postseason looming.

#2: SOUTH SIDE ARCHERS

Record: 16-4

Against Top 10: 7-1

Best win: Northrop (12/15)

Worst loss: Northridge

Next game: Friday vs. Carroll, 6 p.m.

Why they are ranked here: Coach Juanita Goodwell knew when she made her January 2018 schedule that the Archers were in for some tough days and nights. Since winning their SAC Holiday Tournament title, they have gone 1-4. But when it comes to this area, they remain a tangible threat to make a run during the state tournament. As long as the Archers still have the same fight left in them as they did before their tough January, they remain as arguably the toughest out in the postseason.

#3: CARROLL CHARGERS

Record: 14-5

Against Top 10: 5-4

Best win: Concordia Lutheran

Worst loss: Concordia Lutheran

Next game: Friday at South Side, 6 p.m.

Why they are ranked here: Depth has made Carroll intriguing, as has coach Mark Redding’s ability to mix and match lineups without missing much of a beat. Laney Steckler’s defense has taken off and after Friday’s rematch with Carroll (they lost 83-74 the first time this year), the Chargers have a couple of nice winnable games before the postseason.

#4: NORTHROP BRUINS

Record: 17-2

Against Top 10: 4-2

Best win: Carroll

Worst loss: South Side (12/29)

Next game: Friday at Wayne, 6 p.m.

Why they are ranked here: The Bruins can’t be beat, unless by a team named South Side. That is what we have learned thus far this season. The diversity of the Bruin offense and defense has been more than fantastic with Arielle Thatcher taking a lot of the lead, but Bre Douglas, Niomi Dube, Alicia Tiney-Williams and many others stepping up when called upon. If they can get through a Sectional that includes Carroll, the most intriguing thing left for Northrop is a rematch with South Side.

#5: CONCORDIA LUTHERAN CADETS

Record: 11-7

Against Top 10: 4-5

Best win: Carroll

Worst loss: Jay County

Next game: Friday at Snider, 6 p.m.

Why they are ranked here: Concordia got to the upper echelon of the area by scoring well early. They have fallen off the pace some by not being able to score. They have lost four in a row and scored in the 20’s in two of those losses. Concordia knows they can get a lot out of junior Carissa Garcia, who is shooting 50 percent from three-point range, but their future relies on depth offensively.

#6: NORWELL KNIGHTS

Record: 14-5

Against Top 10: 1-4

Best win: Bellmont

Worst loss: Bishop Dwenger

Next game: Friday at New Haven, 7:30 p.m.

Why they are ranked here: Any indication of Norwell’s demise was greatly exaggerated. After a couple of losses to SAC teams in December, they have firmly asserted that they are still the NE8’s best team by handling Bellmont again. On Tuesday of this week, they flexed their comeback muscles when they fell behind Jay County in the first period but dominated the rest of the game. Logan Rowles has found her early season form again and was just two rebounds away from a triple double against Jay County.

#7: BELLMONT SQUAWS

Record: 16-4

Against Top 10: 1-3

Best win: Bishop Dwenger

Worst loss: Jay County

Next game: Friday vs. Huntington North, 7:30 p.m.

Why they are ranked here: Bellmont had a ten game winning streak before losing to Norwell and seeing their hopes of a conference title end. While Norwell clearly still has their number, the Squaws spent those 10 previous games improving their depth in hopes of a run in Class 3A where they may see Norwell again in Sectional play.

#8: BISHOP DWENGER SAINTS

Record: 10-6

Against Top 10: 1-6

Best win: Norwell

Worst loss: Bellmont

Next game: Friday at Bishop Luers, 6 p.m.

Why they are ranked here: Dwenger has not had much success against the top area teams, they hope to turn that around with Bishop Luers and South Side before a Sectional that sees Concordia and Angola in their way. The Saints have a stout backcourt that has harassed a lot of opponents this year. While Ellen Ross and Olivia Sterba have built an expectation on the inside, the perimeter and pressure defense of Caitlyn Ryan, Molly Ream and Grace Wharton, among others, has given Dwenger a lot more drive late in the year.

#9: ANGOLA HORNETS

Record: 19-3

Against Top 10: 0-2

Best win: Northridge

Worst loss: Bishop Luers

Next game: Friday vs. Churubusco, 6 p.m.

Why they are ranked here: The Hornets are likely to become the area’s first 20 win team on Friday when they host Churubusco. Their schedule does not put them up against a lot of elite area teams and when they have faced them, they’ve struggled. With that said, against almost everyone outside of the news-sentinel.com top 10, they have looked dominant. Their defense has been fantastic, with the team averaging 16.9 steals per game and six different girls chipping in two or more of those steals. Offensively, their diversity has left many area teams confused with a number of players able to lead them offensively on any given night.

#10: BISHOP LUERS KNIGHTS

Record: 14-6

Against Top 10: 3-5

Best win: Homestead

Worst loss: Snider

Next game: Friday vs. Dwenger, 6 p.m.

Why they are ranked here: The Knights found a winning formula with box-and-one defenses that gave them victories over Homestead and Concordia, but two losses since Christmas to Carroll that showed they are still a young squad. We’ve seen the best Knights and the worst Knights this season already.

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