PREP HOOPS NOTEBOOK: South preparing for second shot at Homestead; A tale of two games for Columbia City boys
Just over three weeks since South Side and Homestead clashed in the regular season, arguably the two best teams in the area will do it again on Tuesday night.
This time, it is win or go home.
Coach Juanita Goodwell’s Archers squandered a nine-point first half lead and lost 58-55 to the Spartans (19-2). What needs to be different this time?
“We have to play with better discipline,” Goodwell said. “We didn’t stop the ball in transition, which is a key trademark of ours.
“When you look over that game, we were up 17-8 after the first quarter and we came out in the second and had four straight turnovers. Those are the things you can’t do against good teams.”
South (19-4) let an SAC regular-season title slip away with that loss, but there was still plenty to like, particularly since the Archers played that game without senior Mikeba Jones, who has since returned from injury.
Now with a full roster, Goodwell hopes Tuesday’s result is different.
“We did struggle getting that chemistry back (with Mikeba), with simple mistakes like not knowing who is going to cut or waiting on a screen. It has taken us a bit.”
Tip on Tuesday night to open Class 4A Sectional 6 is scheduled for 7 p.m. at South Side.
WILL THE REAL CC PLEASE STAND UP?
Last Wednesday, the Columbia City boys’ basketball team went an entire half — 16 minutes — without a single point in a 49-16 loss.
Three nights later, the Eagles knocked off the presumptive favorite in the Northeast 8 with a 55-53 victory over New Haven.
Which team is the real deal?
“I think we took it to them, we were the aggressor,” said Columbia City coach Brett Eberly on what the difference was against New Haven. “In the Huntington North game, we allowed things to happen to us. (On Saturday) we wanted to make sure we dictated as much as we possibly could.”
The Eagles (8-10, 2-3 NE8) have a young roster, with two sophomores in the starting lineup and several more coming off the bench.
“Our margin of error is so small,” Eberly said. “It is to the point that if we don’t play really well, we get bit.”
One person who did play well against New Haven was Mitchell Wilson. The sophomore dropped 31 points against the Bulldogs, with many of his points coming off cuts and good passes around the basket.
The Eagles are in the midst of a five-game stretch of consecutive league games. The win over New Haven was big after losses to Huntington North and DeKalb and games against Norwell and Leo coming soon.
“(The win) gives us some momentum back,” Eberly said. “These games are just a grind.”
HERE COMES DWENGER…LIKE USUAL
There are only three things guaranteed in life — death, taxes and the Bishop Dwenger boys’ basketball team getting hot in January and February.
The latter seems to be the case again this year, with the Saints heading into Tuesday’s game at Snider winners of four straight, including impressive victories over Blackhawk Christian and South Side last week.
Following a lopsided 16-point loss to Wayne in the SAC Holiday Tournament, Dwenger sat at 5-3 and looked overmatched against the athletes of the Generals. But since then, three close losses to the likes of Carroll, New Haven and Wayne a second time have given way to a string of triumphs.
“They found out more about each other,” said Dwenger coach Matt Kostoff about his team’s early-season struggles. “We knew we could be good, but we knew at the start of the year we had to replace 80 percent of our production from last year (due to graduation).
“These guys have stuck together and the attitude has been good.”
The Saints (9-6) are one of the longer teams in the area, with 6-foot-9 Lucas Lehrman, 6-5 Hayden Smithey and 6-4 John Henry Reith giving the team plenty of reach on both ends of the court.
Add in a growing comfort from an inexperienced backcourt, paced by guys like Trinity Clark and freshman Brenden Lytle, and Dwenger is settling for another late-season run.
Three years ago, the Saints found their rhythm in February, capturing sectional and regional titles despite losing 13 games in the regular season.
The return of Dane Houlihan from injury has also helped considerably.
Dwenger will need the hot streak to continue. The Saints play only one of their final seven regular-season games at home. Bumped up to 4A due to IHSAA realignment, Dwenger will now have to contend with North Side, Carroll and East Noble in a loaded Sectional 5.
But never doubt the power of the Kostoff.
After falling to Homestead on Jan. 19, North Side has won three straight by 14, 30 and 46 points…The Bishop Luers girls ended the regular season with the most improved record among area teams. The Knights went from seven regular-season wins in 2016-17 to 16 victories this year…The Summit Athletic Conference finished the girls’ regular season with the third-best non-conference winning percentage in the state at .701 (75-32). Only the Metropolitan (.831) and the Hoosier Crossroads (.711) were better…Bishop Luers has won the most girls’ basketball sectionals in the area with 20, with the last coming in 2013. Closest contenders to the Knights include Huntington North (18), Columbia City (17) and DeKalb (15).