5 things to watch for

After Saturday night, we will be crowning a host of sectional champions, and for most girls teams, the season will come to an end. Not to mention an interesting Saturday full of boys action as well. So here are five things to watch for this weekend in area prep hoops: <br>

<center> 1. Is this the start of a Concordia state run? </center><br>

When you play in a conference with Homestead, sometimes you just get looked past a little bit no matter how good you are. But the Cadet girls have been nearly flawless as the Summit Athletic Conference’s second best team and are silent contenders to make a decent run in Class 3A because of their defense. They may have gotten a break headed into the semi-finals when Angola beat Canterbury because they won’t have to worry about one of the area’s best pure scorers in Mason VanHouten. The Cadets will host Angola tonight and with a win would face the winner of Bishop Dwenger-Leo on Saturday for a sectional title. With a home crowd behind them and the momentum of a title win if it happens, the Cadets may be one of the toughest teams left in Class 3A after this weekend. <br>

<center> 2. Did loss open up South Side’s eyes? </center><br>

The Archer boys head into Saturday with a heavy test against a flourishing Lakewood Park team, but a week off of a loss to a very similar Bishop Dwenger squad in which South Side controlled most of the game. Maturity breeds a lot of success on the high school level, and the young Archers are still finding that groove. But there is no better buildup to learn how to control games for 32 minutes than trial by fire. With a Panther team that will play controlled and mature, just like Dwenger did, Saturday will be a good litmus test for how much South has learned in the last week. <br>

<center> 3. Premature crowning vs. due excitement </center><br>

Norwell girls basketball wins. It is a fact that most have come to live with. They win conference titles and they win sectionals. And then along came Bellmont, who hadn’t won much of anything since 1994. The Squaws quietly worked into the conference title picture and then came away with a solo crown last week despite a loss to Norwell on their resume. Tonight will see a likely de facto sectional title game when the two teams meet at Norwell. The Squaws have every right to come into tonight full of excitement, and while the Norwell girls do as well, they must soften expectations that everyone else has for them and look at the game for what it is, which is a challenge to their throne. Norwell must be in defend mode and not advance mode for this one. <br>

<center> 4. We could be crowning a NE8 boys champion </center><br>

Huntington North will be the next team to test out their defense against the athleticism of New Haven and will have to do so coming off a crushing one-point overtime loss to Carroll on Wednesday. The Vikings will have to bounce back quick in a game between two foes at 5-0 in the NE8 that very well could be for the conference crown. This is a game where taking care of the basketball and perimeter defense are the two most important things. Both squads need to close out on shooters with guys like Huntington North’s Hunter Hollowell and New Haven’s Joey Rowan both capable of getting very hot. But minimizing little mistakes is key. If New Haven’s James Gardner gets too involved in this game, it is bad news for the Vikings. <br>

<center> 5. Which Snider rematch is the biggest? </center><br>

Snider’s girls will face another top SAC school in Carroll tonight in a rematch of last Friday’s finale. A win could see them face Northrop, who upset Snider earlier this season, on Saturday in a sectional final. So which game is the biggest? There is no clear-cut answer. Certainly, the Northrop game is one the Panthers want back badly, but coach Greg Friend has likely cautioned the group in looking past a dangerous Carroll team with a diversity of scorers in their own right. While a Northrop/Snider showdown Saturday is one a lot of people would clamor for, this weekend is the true definition of “one game at a time,” for the Panthers and their senior leaders will look to direct them on the right course mentally. <br>

<i> Follow Dan Vance on Twitter at danvance </i>