PREP HOOPS NOTEBOOK: Chanteese Craig playing big for Concordia; Big week on tap for East Noble

Freshman Chanteese Craig, seen here in a game earlier this season against Bellmont, has been a key component of Concordia's team, particularly as of late. (By Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)

Chanteese Craig’s value to the Concordia girls’ basketball team was easily evident last Friday against Leo.

With the freshman forward relegated to the bench with foul trouble, the Lions were able to not only keep pace with the Cadets but even hold a four-point third-quarter lead in the semifinals of the Bishop Dwenger Sectional.

But when Craig re-entered the game a few minutes into the second half, the game radically changed.

With the 6-2 rookie providing a big boost in the paint, Concordia turned a deficit into a 20-point rout.

One night later, the Cadets were hoisting their seventh sectional in eight years with a defeat of Angola.

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“Early in the season, you could see that Chanteese had a long way to go,” Concordia coach Dave Miller said. “She went through a spell with the flu (around the holidays) and she wasn’t effective, but since then she has really come on.”

Four of Craig’s 10 double-digit scoring games this season have come in the last five games, including a 24-point, 13-rebound performance against Snider on Jan. 19 and dropping 17 and 14 on North Side on Jan. 26.

Craig’s effectiveness has opened things up for standout Carissa Garcia, with defenses now having to respect the inside game more.

“She really makes a difference,” said Miller about Craig. “She has allowed us to play some inside-out that has really helped us a lot. She is really becoming a factor in the middle. She can finish. She can catch. She has nice hands and she does a really good job if she is doubled in kicking it out to the perimeter.

Concordia (17-7) plays Fairfield (22-2) in the second semifinal at the Columbia City Regional on Saturday at noon.

WANTING MORE

Last Thursday’s victory over Bellmont gave East Noble at least a share of its first league championship since 2007, but the Knights aren’t satisfied.

“We were in the locker room and I could barely get it out of my mouth before the guys said how they want it outright,” said East Noble coach Ryan Eakins about the program’s first Northeast 8 title. “That was cool to hear. That’s what they want.”

It won’t be easy, with East Noble (16-1) heading to New Haven (12-5) on Friday. The Bulldogs are the only team that can tie the Knights for the title and can earn a share of it if they can beat both East Noble on Friday and Leo on Feb. 20.

But before East Noble can worry about New Haven, it gets a good barometer game on Wednesday against potential sectional opponent Bishop Dwenger.

Wednesday’s game is valuable in that it is one of just two regular-season games for the Knights against sectional foes.

The key in preparing for a prospective showdown with a Carroll or a Snider or a North Side in the postseason?

“Turnovers and rebounding,” Eakins said. “Last year (in sectional) we were up three on Carroll with five minutes to go and they threw a 1-3-1 (zone) on us and we turned the ball over on three or four straight possessions and lost.

“We were also a lot smaller last year than this year and struggled on the glass. In both of those areas we are greatly improved.”

QUICK HITS

Northrop senior Niomi Dube surpassed 1,000 career points in last Friday’s victory over North Side…Senior Jalan Mull of Blackhawk Christian broke the program record for career steals last Thursday against South Side. Mull currently has 181 career steals, breaking the record of 175 formerly held by Josh Rang, who graduated in 1991…Bishop Luers girls’ basketball leads the area in regional championships with 12, with the most recent coming in 2013. Canterbury has won nine regional titles, while Columbia City, Northrop and Huntington North have each won eight apiece…Two local boys basketball teams lead the state in defensive scoring average — Angola (36.3) and Heritage (37.0)…Junior Trinity Clark announced via Twitter that he has transferred from Bishop Dwenger to Blackhawk Christian. The guard had recently been one of the Saints’ most-productive players. It is uncertain when Clark will be eligible to play at Blackhawk.

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