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The Gridiron Digest

SWIAC Basketball 2021-2022


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This should be a good year for the top teams in the conference... The rest have some big unknowns or will be rebuilding.

Linton-  If the Summer is any indication of the type of team this will be in 2021-2022... be ready for a different style of play from the last few years.  Passing and sharing the ball was the big thing on offense, while watching Joey Hart & Company develop into a very dangerous offensive team.  The defense was better than the last few years... lots of length in the starting 5 and all 5 guys could switch without giving up too much.  I think they went 30-3 with losses to Brebeuf and TH North (North once again had a kid go nuts from the 3 point line... even hitting the game winner), and Lakota East out of Cincinnati.  Lakota East was the only one that kept a steady 8-10 point lead on us throughout the game.  We shot horribly against the other two, while they made contested shots.  The Senior class will have Drew Smith, Ayden Riggleman, Jackson Fields, and Japheth House.  Smith was the #3 scoring option this Summer.  At 6'1" 210+ lbs of muscle, he is a difficult matchup for most teams.  Riggleman will have opportunities to play off the ball and be a shooter.  He had mixed results as a PG at the Freshman and JV levels, but he is a solid shooter.  Fields is more of an old school big man when it comes to skill, but at 6'0"... he will struggle to find a niche with a team full of 6'2"+ players.  House is a streaky shooter... his ball handling and defense will need to improve to crack the rotation.  The Juniors are led by Joey Hart.  Hart is a 6'5" shooter who has above average athleticism... for the college level.  He is a legit D1 talent who will likely receive offers from a lot of big programs.  The #2 scorer will be Logan Webb.  Webb is a 6'3" matchup problem.  He is too strong for guards to handle in the post... too skilled for bigs to handle.  Most teams don't have enough size and athleticism to guard the starting 5.  Wrigley Franklin rounded out the starting 5 this Summer.  At 6'2"+ and 220 lbs, he provides an interesting skill set.  He handles the ball well... willing and good passer... he also could switch onto all 5 positions defensively.  He doesn't look to score, but he is improving is a capable option.  If he can hit open shots, this team becomes very dangerous.  Nathan Frady and Jaxon Walker are the other Juniors looking to play a lot of varsity.  Frady is a 6'4" big man with a nice 3 point shot.  He isn't quick enough to guard all 5 positions, so expect a zone if he is in.  The Sophomore class is led by Braden Walters.  He is an outstanding defender, good ballhandler, solid passer, and can take the ball to the basket.  He will need to elevate his scoring a little bit this year, which shouldn't be a problem.  Since everyone handles the ball and looks to hit the open teammate... he should have more opportunities to look for his own scoring opportunities.  Jamison Fields is another Sophomore who should be positioned to at least dress varsity.  I don't see any Freshman ready to contribute at the varsity level.  Linton does have a strong 8th grade team that will challenge next year for JV time and possibly varsity minutes.

Bloomfield-  This Bloomfield group should be a very good 1A team.  The Senior class is led by Baylin Graf... he is strong inside/outside threat at 6'2".  Ethan Dean, Chris Royal, and Ryan Shulte will provide ball handling and shooting.  Royal stepped up as a solid 2nd option to Graf late in the season.  The Junior class will have Brett Sherrard, Hank Skomp, Justin Beard, and Peter Combs fighting for time.  A few others will likely play JV.  Combs looked to be a legit 6'5" and seemed to be filling out.  His play could elevate this team to a deep run in the tournament.  Sherrard will provide ball handling and defense, while Skomp will provide shooting.  Beard had some big scoring games as a JV player... if he has improved... he could be a great addition to the full time rotation.  There are a couple Sophomores who could be in the mix.

North Daviess- The Big 3 of Mullens and the Wilson twins are as good as any 3 perimeter players in the area.  Mullens is a good lead guard who has become a bigger scorer.  The Wilson twins are good wing scorers who can drain a deep 3 as easily as finishing at the rim.  They are all juniors.  The Britton kid started this Summer as a Senior.  He is a good shooter.  They only had one big man... he seemed content to hang out at the 3 point line.  They will have a host of solid sub 6'0" guards to rotate in and out.  North Daviess has won 4 straight 8th grade SWIAC championships... I'll be interested to see if they are able to win it at the HS level this year.

Shakamak-  This team could be interesting if their new coach can convince everyone to play.  Seniors will have Coy Gilbert and Carson Jernigan return as guards.  Oscar Pegg and Joe Van Sant will be eligible after transferring from Bloomfield.  I would imagine Brayson Shipman will provide some size up front. If Coach Crowe can convince Guyler Gorby (6'4") and Tyler Vivian (6'3") to play... this is a solid Senior group.  Brady Yeryar may be the lone Junior contributor.  JT May and Will Miller will headline the Sophomore class.  May is a good shooter, but his defense is suspect and an athletic defender seemed capable of locking him up.  Will Miller has some skill, but he simply wasn't strong enough to play in physical match ups.  This team could be solid with a starting lineup of Gilbert, May, Pegg, Gorby, and Jernigan, VanSant, or Vivian.  The other two with Miller and Yeryar off the bench is 9 solid players.

White River Valley-  New coach should add a little bit to the program.  The feeder program seems to be improved, but there are a couple weak classes filtering through the HS.  Max Hostetter should be much better after his baptism by fire as a freshman PG.  He will need to be the alpha dog... this goes against his natural inclination to distribute the ball.  He will need to be their best player.  I'm not real familiar with the Senior class... Parker Stone could provide another athlete in the backcourt.... I haven't heard if he is playing.  The Junior class will have two shooters.  Wade Hall and Jared Franklin.  Hall is about 6'3" and a high effort kid.  Franklin is a crafty scorer.  Neither are exceptionally quick.  The Sophomore class has a few kids that will need to step up.

North Central- This group will be led by DeShawn Clark.  He is a crafty guard that has had some big games over the last few years.  Trevor Hadley should return as a big with some ball skills.  Ison and Seay will also return.  Ison has become a solid rotation guy... Seay will provide some athleticism.  They should have at least a few more contributors graduate from the JV.

Clay City- I'm not sure how many seniors they have, but the Junior class is solid.  Reilly Myers returns at PG.. Swearingen should provide some shooting... I think there is an Adams kid that is solid as well.  There was a big man (6'3" or so) who was a Jr. but he didn't play against Linton.  This was one a few teams I didn't see much of this Summer.

Eastern- Coach Hudson will have his work cut out for him.  The T-Birds return 2 starters in Rippy and Valentine.  Rippy is 6'7" and can be a load underneath... Valentine a sweet shooting guard.  Ripp was hurt during football season... hopefully that won't spill into basketball season.  After those 2... the bottom falls out.  Now they will work in a bunch of Freshman and Sophomores hoping they are ready for varsity.  I don't think they will be there.  Last year's JV team was not very good and the 8th grade team was only average.  This baptism by fire might help prepare the T-Birds for the next couple of seasons.

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The season is here... Here is the schedule for this week...

Tuesday, November 23rd

Clay City @ South Putnam- CC should be improved with a solid Junior class gaining a lot of varsity experience last year.  I don't know much about SP, but they had some athletes on the football.  If those guys are basketball players, Clay City might be in trouble.  

North Daviess @ Loogootee-  This always seems to be a great game.  Both teams lost some key guys from last year, but return their best player(s).  It is hard to go against Mullens... he does a great job control the game from his PG spot.  Bledsoe will be the go to man for the Lions.  I think the studs on both teams are fairly evenly matched... it may be the unknown role players that will be the deciding factor.  For ND... I'd watch out for Britton... he can shoot when left open.  Loogootee will spend  a lot of defensive effort containing Mullens, Wilson, and Wilson.  As for the Lions... Isaac Eagle is a capable player who could step into a bigger role this year.

Whiteland @ Eastern Greene- A 4A school is usually a tough matchup, but having only 2 returning varsity guys along with some uncertainty about the health of at least one of those guys... Looks like Eastern's baptism by fire for their young players will start right out of the gate.

Wednesday, November 24th

Bloomfield @ Owen Valley-  This should be a big win for the Cardinals.  Atkinson was a do it all player for the Patriots, but he is gone.  Bloomfield won last year... they are better.

Indy Metro @ Linton- Linton was without 2 starters for their scrimmage against Evansville Central... Smith is likely out until around Christmas.  Webb should be back much sooner.  I think he practiced a little on Saturday, but they will need him to be 100%.  Even without those two guys... Linton looked good against Central on Friday.  Their biggest concern for Metro will be their 6'10" center.  He looks to be good near the basket and on the boards.  I still like the Miners in this one.  Joey Hart is still going to be the best player on the floor... and his supporting cast is capable.  On a bit of side note... Ayden Riggleman stepped in to a starting roll in the absence of Webb and Smith... and he played well.  It would be good to have another shooter with all the defenders/playmakers on the floor. 

North Knox @ WRV-  This game always seems to be close.  I think North Knox should be better, but not be enough to keep this from being a good game.  

Saturday, November 2th

Shakamak @ Rivet-  This will be a good chance for Coach Crowe to get his 1st win.  JT May lit them up from outside last year.  I don't know if Rivet has the athletes to stop May from scoring.  If they do... this could be interesting.  I'm guessing Shakamak will win by double digits.

North Daviess Tournament-  Their 1st game will be against Evansville Day... I don't know anything about them.  I'm guessing the Cougars will win.  The 2nd game says they will play North Posey.  I don't know anything about them either.  The Ricketts brother were there a few years ago, but I'm not sure if the younger one is still there.

Hulman Center Classic- 

Bloomfield will play Cloverdale.  Bloomfield should be a good 1A team... Cloverdale should still have the Thomas boys.  The older boy should be hard to handle.  I don't know as much about the other one.

North Central vs. Northview-  Both teams will rely heavily on their guards.  Clark will lead they way for the T-Birds.  Northview will be led by Noah White (former TH North player) and Drew Cook.  I watched a little bit of Northview this summer.  Cook looked to score, while White ran the offense.  North Central might have a size advantage.

Linton vs. Park Heritage-  Linton won this match up at Linton last year, but PH had the last laugh playing in the 2A state finals.  Johnson & Johnson will lead the way for PH.  Christian Johnson is an explosive scorer, while his brother is a solid wing.  I'm not sure what they have around them.  Linton could be 2 starters.  Walters did a great job of neutralizing Christian last year... I think Linton has a solid supporting cast.  With or without Webb, I think Linton will win.

 

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The weekend played out about as expected... I'll start with the teams that struggled...

Eastern, WRV, Clay City, and North Central each lost their opening game.  Eastern will likely struggle all year.  WRV lost a close one vs. North Knox.  Clay City was a toss up for me... Looks like South Putnam had enough to squeeze out a win.  North Central was a bigger loss than I expected, but the White/Cook backcourt is pretty good.  If Northview has any type of size... this doesn't seem like a big loss.  

Shakamak beat a very weak Rivet team.  I'm not sure it says much one way or the other about the Lakers.  

Bloomfield beat Owen Valley and Cloverdale.  I thought the Clovers would put up a bigger fight... maybe they were missing someone.  Bloomfield looks to be minus Dean and Sherrard for what could be the whole season... that would not be good for the Cardinals post season chances.

North Daviess won 3 games over the weekend.  The win against Loogootee was a nice victory against a sectional opponent.  Evansville Day looked to be an easy win , but North Posey looked to be a close game.

Linton got 2 quality wins over quality teams this weekend.  Indy Metro didn't play the 6'10" Merriweather kid, but they played faster without him.  Stamps was a load at 6'1" 250lbs.  He scored 20 or so in the 1st half...  Their PG, Omari Ferguson was a speedster.  He was really tough to stay in front of in transition.  They will be a tough 1A team.  Park Heritage went to state last year, but the Miners handled them fairly well.  Some big shots out of a few PH kids helped keep the game close, but it never seemed to feel like it would be close.  One of those weird games were the score looked and felt like an 8-10 point game for the majority of the time.

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Last week was a pretty good week for the top teams of the SWIAC conference.  

Bloomfield made sure to emphasize to Shakamak that they were a distant 4th in the conference on Friday night.  A 20+ point makes the Cardinals look like a clear favorite in their sectional.

North Daviess moved to 4-0 with a big win over Washington.

Linton went 2-0 on the weekend.  The 30 point win over Clay City was expected, but the double digit win over Crispus Attucks was a big win.  Looks like the Miners have moved into the top 20 coaches poll for the first time in school history.  They didn't play a perfect 1st half, but well enough to keep it close.  The 2nd half was dominated for the most part by the Miners.  Depth might be their only chink as of right now, but some of the guys that didn't play much Saturday would be fine against most teams on our schedule.  Drew Smith will also be back sometime after Christmas, which provide another player to handle the ball... play defense.. and score at the rim.  

Shakamak had a weird weekend.  They get destroyed by Bloomfield... then it takes a last second shot for Sullivan to put them away.  This kind of inconsistency makes sense for the Sophomore contributors... but one would think there is enough Senior leadership to balance that out.  They also have a new coach.  If you are half empty people... this is just Shakamak... you never know what you are going to get.  If you are a half full person... these are some new coach/emerging team issues that will work themselves out as the year progresses.  Too early to tell.

North Central is 2-1, but their wins are against teams that are 0-7 combined.  Coach Edmondson usually gets his teams ready by Sectional.  They still have some pieces to give Bloomfield some trouble.  

White River Valley is not only without a win, but they are barely scoring 30 ppg.  I think they are giving up 40+ppg.  They are 0-3 against middle of the road teams.

Clay City had to play Linton, which was not a close game.  Reilly Myers was solid for them.  Early on he had 10-12 of their first 15 points.  This was a solid Jr. group in JH... Outside of Myers... I'm not sure the rest of them have improved at the same rate as the other Juniors in the area.  In fairness, there are a lot of really good kids from that class scattered across the conference.

Eastern is just not very good.  They look to be disciplined with the ball, but they aren't very talented.  Rippy didn't play in the game I watched.  I had heard he was injured during football season, but I hadn't heard the severity of the injury.  Valentine did a nice job leading in the game I watched, but with this group... he needs to look to score more often.  

 

 

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SWIAC looks to be a three horse race at the top between Linton, North Daviess, and Bloomfield. All 3 are highly ranked and deservedly so. The Miners are proving to be more than just pieces for Joey Hart, and if they can get Drew Smith back in form, there could be a lengthy run in store come March. North Daviess prides itself on defense and right now they are playing stellar defense. Of course, for them to make a run they'll have to get out of the gauntlet that is sectional 63. Bloomfield looks to be improved this year, on both sides of the ball. We knew they could score but they've become a good defensive team to start the year. Should be a sellout wherever these three teams play all year long.

North Central has impressed me this year. Even without Tyler Vaughn, the T-Birds could be poised to take the next step. After all, they did defeat Bloomfield in last year's sectional and if their talent level and conditioning level even up, they could be a real threat to any of the above teams. Shakamak is hard to figure out. Like was said above, they went from getting run off their court to losing at the buzzer in one night. Coy Gilbert is a very good player and can heat up at any time, if his supporting cast comes along, watch out Bloomfield and North Central in sectional 57.

WRV has trouble putting the ball in the basket, but their defense seems to have improved which might help them against teams of their caliber. Max Hostetter is a nice point guard but needs pieces around him. Clay City is a very young team but not one to overlook, Coach Ames values shot making and in a couple years with that decent freshman class, they could give the teams above maybe a challenge. Eastern is just hurting right now. Injuries and youth have left Coach Hudson looking for answers that just won't come yet. Like Clay City, they have a decent freshman class that is gaining experience now. They may take their lumps now but hopefully things turn around there.

My SWIAC power rankings:

1. Linton

2. Bloomfield

3. North Daviess

4. North Central

5. Shakamak

6. Clay City

7. WRV

8. Eastern Greene

 

 

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The weekend continued to set the top 3 teams in the conference apart from the rest of the pack... while the rest all seem to be within 8-10 points of each other.

Linton beat a solid Mitchell team on Friday.  Mitchell looked to be well coached and had a handful of solid guards and shooters.  I think Linton's length and athleticism was the difference.  Wigley getting in foul trouble hurt Mitchell... he had a couple dumb fouls, but requiring him to guard Webb on the block was a poor coaching move.  He was giving up 3 inches and quite a few lbs and muscle.  I thought Hart played below his usual level... oddly he struggles shooting at home.  Mitchell put a smaller physical defender on him and he didn't rise up.  Frady and Franklin hit enough shots to prevent Mitchell from focusing on Hart and Webb.  Walters looked disinterested in filling the 3rd scorer role.  He is more than capable and the addition of Franklin takes some of the playmaker responsibilities away from him.  It may not matter since Drew Smith is likely back this weekend.  If he takes up where he left off... he could fill the 3rd scorer role.  They have a conference game against Shakamak on Friday followed by a matchup with Castle at Bosse Saturday afternoon.

Bloomfield cruised to 2 big wins this weekend.  Clay City and Edgewood aren't world beaters, but they beat both by a wide margin.  I'm not sure anybody will know how good they are until later in the month.  The back half of their schedule will sort out how good they are.  Linton, North Daviess, Loogootee, and Bloomington South should sort it out before sectionals.

North Daviess also cruised to 2 big wins by lesser competition.  North Central is likely in the 4th-6th place range in the conference... looks like that gap is 20+ points between the top 3 and the rest.  I don't know anything about the Jeeps... I'm guessing they aren't great.  They will have a big game against Hammond Central this weekend followed by a game against Evansville Mater Dei.  Hammond Central would be a nice measuring stick.  They will have better athletes... ND will need to control the pace of the game.  I don't know anything about MD basketball, but they are likely still getting their basketball legs in shape after football season.

North Central lost big to North Daviess... a matchup next weekend against Eastern will give everyone a glimpse into the difference between the middle and bottom of the conference.

Shakamak lost a winnable game against North Knox, while beating Washington Catholic easily.  A matchup against Linton will be a tough task this weekend.  Surely this team will start to play better.  There is some talent there.

Clay City is going through the top teams early... it might give everyone a inaccurate view of their place in the conference.  They are clearly 20+ points worse than the top 3, but they might be on equal footing with the rest of the conference.

Eastern looks like a team that is playing very disciplined with a really young team... that won't help them this year... who knows down the line.  Valentine is a good senior... if Rippy returns... they might move up from the bottom of the conference.

WRV looks to be falling to the bottom.  I've heard that Crites is playing well as a Senior, but others are struggling to score.  I've heard rumors that shooting mechanics were altered and some have not been able to hit open shots ever since.  If this was a summer switch that just hasn't taken, I get it.  If these changes were done more recently, seems like an unwise move.  Changing the mechanics of a shot is something that requires a lot of work/shots in the summer.  It also seems some players that were more focused on offense than defense... have fell out of favor.  This weekend might get them their 2nd win against Bloomington Lighthouse.  WRV always seems to play Bloomfield better than their record or talent suggest.  I still see them losing by 20+.

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Another good weekend for the top of the conference... and some interesting games down the line.

Linton- A huge over a slightly depleted Shakamak team was to be expected.  Linton could have hung 100 on them, but what use would that be.  It really seemed Coach Hart and even the players were looking ahead to Saturday's matchup against Castle.  The big win against Castle was a solid win.  Castle plays really hard.  Niehaus is like a bigger Josh Pyne.  He hurt us when we went to a zone with offensive rebounds (he came in averaging 10+ rebounds... about 1/2 were offensive).  We kept him in check.  Franklin guarded him the most, but Webb... Walters... and even Hart were on him at various times.  While in man... he did very little.  The 6'9" kid was solid, but he met Drew Smith and his great positioning and outstanding strength.  Walters shut down their other top scorer.  On the the Drew Smith note... this team is good without him... but with him... they will be really tough to handle.  Smith, Walters, and Franklin make so many plays without scoring.  Don't get me wrong Hart and Webb are studs, but watching the other three is fun.  Loose balls, steals, rebounds, great passes, etc... just happen when these guys are in.  Gennicks provides some of the same types of things, but he hasn't quite caught up after missing the last 2 years of basketball.  I did enjoy the SIAC folks on social media and even in the stands Saturday.  The social media folks bad mouthed Linton's schedule (note... Evansville schools/SIAC don't really believe sports are played outside of their little part of the world).  My favorite was the SIAC fan sitting near me.  He started the game as an ardent supporter of his conference... by Walters-Hart alley oop at the half... his transformation to Linton fan was complete.  He rooted for the Miners the rest of the way 🙂 

North Daviess-  I would have liked to watch the matchup against Hammond Central.  Sounds like a really good game.. free throws seemed to be the deciding factor.  I wonder how tightly the game was called.  HC gets after it defensively... almost to their own detriment.  The Cougars notched another solid win against Evansville Mater Dei on Saturday night.

Bloomfield-  The Cardinals keep rolling, but their strength of schedule makes me wonder how they would fair against a good team.  They might be as good as the top 2, but it is hard to tell beating teams that are average or below.  The Wabash Valley Tournament should give them a few opportunities to notch a bigger win.

North Central-  They won on Friday against Eastern and rolled against Bloomington Lighthouse the following night.  They beat who they should have.  They are quietly cruising into 2022 with a 5-2 record.  Not bad.

Clay City- They lost a close game against Monrovia, but bounced back against South Vermillion on Saturday.  2 wins would have been nice, but they are showing a little bit of life.

Shakamak-  They were destroyed by Linton on Friday.  I'm sure the loss of Gilbert and Jernigan will provide an excuse, but let's be honest... the Miners still would have rolled.  JT May scored their 1st 11 points... the only problem was a whole quarter between his 9 point 1st quarter and his 1st basket of the 3rd quarter.

Eastern- They were handled by North Central, but a close loss at Martinsville shows they may have a little life in them.  

WRV- They have 2 wins, but Wood Memorial and Bloomington Lighthouse isn't exactly good wins.  They are probably better than Eastern... for now... assuming Rippy doesn't play in their matchup later this season.  Who knows.. they might even be able to squeeze out a win against Clay City... I doubt they beat NC or Shakamak at full strength.

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Three teams do seem to be running away from the rest: Linton is beating teams that are quite good and showing they're not just Joey and the Supporting Harts. They seem primed to make a good run come March. North Daviess is looking strong as well, riding a killer defense and a junior class ready to rise to the top. Bloomfield has yet to get into the meat of their schedule through no fault of their own, the first half of their schedule appears to have been used to get Baylin Graf's supporting cast comfortable enough to create opportunities for them when teams key on him.

As for the rest:

North Central is a very scary team and thankfully for them, the Clark boy's injury against North Daviess wasn't significant enough to keep him from missing action. Can they run with Bloomfield and win the sectional while stunning the Cardinals two years in a row? March will tell.

Shakamak seems to be struggling with health. No way are they 45 points worse than Linton, but until they're fully healthy, we'll not know how good they really can be.

Clay City has been the surprise of the conference to me. They seem to be a lot more physical than in years past and aren't afraid to go nose to nose with anyone. Right now, they're a dark horse in sect. 57.

Eastern Greene is finally starting to get its pieces in order and though this year seems to be a work in progress, they do aim to be much more competitive than they were to start.

WRV just struggles to score to beat teams at or above their caliber. They can hang with teams at their level, beat teams below their level, but teams above it they're just overwhelmed by. It may take some time to buy into the Michael Hopkins way of seeing things. 

My rankings:

1. Linton

2. North Daviess

3. Bloomfield

4. North Central

T5. Clay City, Shakamak

7. Eastern Greene

8. WRV

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  • 3 weeks later...

What a week for basketball.  North Daviess and Southridge had competitive holiday tourneys, while the Wabash Valley Tournament had some really good games.  Bloomfield, Linton and North Daviess were knocked from the list of unbeatens.

Linton-  The Miners notched good wins against Marshall, Bloomfield, and Edgewood... Unfortunately, they fell short against a very good Terre Haute North team in the Championship game.  The Bloomfield was a good win, but sort of glimpse into the Good, Bad, and Ugly of the Miners.  As a whole they played a sloppy/lazy game for about 3 quarters.  They looked good for the first 5 minutes and the last 3 minutes.  Fortunately, the Miners did a good job on stopping Graf.  The problem was Combs killed them around the basket... the Cardinals also hit 6 first half 3 pointers.  Even with that... when the all of the Miners played with some effort... they rattled off 16 points in the last few minutes to squeeze out a win.  They handled Owen Valley easily on day 1 of the Greene County Tournament.

North Daviess-  I didn't get a chance to watch their loss to FW Blackhawk, but an OT loss to an undefeated team that is off of state championship runs is a good loss... if one believes in such things.

Bloomfield had a solid week at the Wabash Valley Tournament.  They were 3 minutes away from giving Linton their 1st loss.  A close game against South Vermillion was a little unexpected, but SV played well.  The biggest problem was the nasty turned ankle that Peter Combs came away with against Cloverdale.  The game was well in hand when he went down, which will likely cause some to question the call to have him in.  

North Central- Had the week off... Some one mentioned they needed time to get healthy.  Looks like they will get Shakamak on Friday. That will be a good game to see where each team is at this point.

Shakamak-  They showed some life in the Wabash Valley Tournament.  A close loss to West Vigo should have been a win, but a win against TH South was big.  The loss against Northview was by about the same as North Central... which could be a sign of a good game at the Greene County Tourney.  That would be nice after watching the 1st couple games.  

White River Valley- This team is young at a lot of key spots... they also seem to have trouble handling the ball.  20+ turnovers cost them a chance of winning their game against Shakamak.  Hostetter is a solid ballhandler, but after that... the barrel is thin.  Wade Hall, Eli Crites, and Jared Franklin handle the ball ok in a 1/2 court situation when looking for their own shots.  I didn't see much ball movement and unselfish team play.  The other Wolverines need work.  Dalton Fulford provides hustle... Luke Hall can shoot... neither provide varsity level ball handling.  Most of their Sophomores are getting good experience, but outside of Hostetter... none of them seem ready for full time varsity.

Clay City-  They had a solid holiday tournament.  2-1 with a close loss to Martinsville.  Looking at their schedule... they could be on a 6 game winning streak going into their game with TH North in a few weeks.  A lot of winnable games over the next few weeks.  I'll be interested to see how they fare against WRV at the end of the month.

Eastern-  I don't know if the Rippy kid is back, but Coach Hudson is giving his young guys a lot of experience.  Unfortunately, I don't see many winnable games on the schedule.  Washington Catholic... maybe WRV... It is going to be a tough year.

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A couple thoughts from the GCI...

WRV-  They have the pieces to be better than what they are.  Max Hostetter is a good PG, but I would require him to create more scoring opportunities for himself.  Sometimes it is like watching Walters and Franklin from Linton... very unselfish and seems to always be looking to involve his teammates.  The problem is he doesn't have kids who can create their own scoring opportunities.  Jared Franklin and Wade Hall can hit spot up shots, but neither have the athletic ability to create against good defenders.  Imagine if Max required a player to cheat over to guard him... then those guys become effective shooters.  Eli Crites seems to be in a time loop from his freshman year.  He still is too weak with the ball.  That was OK then... we saw the potential... I'm not sure a Senior gets that pass.  Luke Hall looked solid in some spots.  The basketball IQ is there... he still tends to be streaky as a shooter... and he needs to get bigger/stronger, but as a freshman... he has time to grow into that.  I like the effort Fulford brings, but he is an energy/defense guy.  English has moments, but he is just a Sophomore... if he could squeeze out a few more inches... his game becomes much tougher to defend.  5'10" physical scorers aren't nearly as effective as 6'3" players.  If the new coach can work some magic... next year might be a .500 season with an opportunity to be in the mix come sectionals.

North Central-  I really like the Clark kid.  He has thinned out a little and is crafty with the ball.  He can also fill it up when he starts feeling it.  Hadley looks slower than last year.  He seemed to be standing around a lot and was not as effective as a scorer/passer.  Ison has really improved... I could see him filling Clark's role next year.  He could be a 15-20 ppg scorer next year.  Jennings is getting minutes, but he needs to become more physical.  His effort is also all over the place.  A focus on getting stronger could turn him into a tough player.  Vaughn still provides athletic play that borders chaos.  When he is hitting shots and making plays, he is an X factor.  The problem is when he isn't... expect fouls and turnovers.

Shakamak- First... congrats to Coy Gilbert on reaching 1,000 points.  I have been thoroughly impressed with how hard he plays.  Next to Joey Hart and Logan Webb... he was probably the most effective scorer in the GCI.  Oscar Pegg provides physical play at another guard spot.  He bullied some kids in the GCI... he didn't have that luxury against Linton.  Jernigan had some solid play from another guard spot.  JT May was lights out in the 2nd half to get the Lakers past North Central, but he struggles to score on athletes with any length.  He struggled against the Miners.  Guyler Gorby came off the bench in all the games I watched.  He looks uninterested in being out there.  He has maybe the highest athletic ceiling on the team, yet doesn't get much out of it.

Linton-  8 in a row... Most of the guys who played weren't even playing school basketball the last time the Miners lost a game in the GCI.  Hart was on fire the first game... and didn't really slow down.  After a week of physical games where every team tried to push him around to get him off his game... The teams at the GCI allowed him to get comfortable shooting 3 pointers.  Then they would run out on him while he drove past them.  Webb was a little off compared to the previous tournament, but he still scored around 20 ppg for the GCI.  Smith and Walters made plays going to the rim.  Frady scored around the basket, while Franklin made some nice defensive/hustle plays.  It was good to see Jaxon Walker come of the bench as a reliable outside shooter.  If he was a little more physical... and versatile on the offensive end... he could carve out some time.  Ayden Riggleman came off the bench and scored some points, but his skill set doesn't seem to be translating to playing time.  Hunter Gennicks has the athletic and defensive skill set to fight for some time, but he is behind as an offensive player.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

So... battle of the conference unbeaten teams highlighted Friday night.  At the very least it was a close game.  Here it goes...

North Daviess-  They are now the top team.  By no fault of there own.... it wasn't an impressive win.  Maybe that is harsh, but neither team was really impressive.  Not necessarily their fault... although... I would guess ND wasn't looking to get in a track meet.  They also didn't seem to be hitting open shots.  The 1-3-1 gave them more fits than last year.  In large part due to Linton rotating better.  They dove for loose balls and made plays when they needed to.  The offensive rebounds late in the game were big... one even won the game for them.  They lost what sounds like a great game Saturday night to Barr Reeve.  That sectional will be a blood bath.  Whoever comes out of it will be favored to make a good postseason run.

Linton- I'm not sure exactly what to say.  Bloomfield and North Daviess exposed some chinks in the Miner armor.  Let me begin by explaining how Linton beat the Cougars this summer (yes... I realize summer ball is different).  The Miners used their size to abuse them.  They out rebounded them, played switching man defense contesting everything, and used their size match ups to win.  The only Miner under 6'2" or 6'3" is 6'1" 220 lbs and is rumored to drop step dunk.  Webb was the most effective down low, but they even posted up Smith and Franklin... I don't think Frady played a lot due to the switching man defense.  The Miners were also moving the ball until the best shot was taken.  I think the Miners won by 14 or 15, but it was rarely ever in single digits.  Fast forward to Friday... we came out and didn't really do any of those things.  It almost seemed like we were playing into what I would expect to be the Cougar strategy. Franklin didn't post up Mullen... He is a reluctant scorer, but can score around the basket... and is probably their best passer from the post.  Frady comes in Friday night... I assumed to exploit the size matchup... nope... we still kept running the same sets that clearly were well scouted by the Cougars.  We got into a little foul trouble late in the 1st half, so we held the ball.  At the time it was the smart move.  The stalling later... felt like we were playing not to lose.  We also wasted this plan by taking a couple bad shots late.  We also aren't the best FT shooting team as of late.  Now... with this in mind... if the Cougars had a lead... they would have undoubtedly shortened the game by holding onto the ball.  This was never going to be a high scoring affair.  Win or lose... the Miners are playing sloppy basketball.  I'm not blaming any one person.  The guys that don't want to score are almost going out of their way to pass up good drives and shots... while the two big scorers are throwing up a lot of bad shots... sometimes when their teammates are open for a better shot.  There is work for the Miners to do... I have no doubt Coach Hart is working it out.  In truth... they probably needed a kick on the face.  It is not impossible for some of these HS kids to start believing the hype rather than getting to work on being a great team.  That probably means Hart and Webb may need to pass up a shot or two, while Walters, Smith, Franklin, and Frady need to look to score a time or two more each game.  This summer... a basic stat line was Hart/Webb scored 40+... Smith chipped in 12+ ppg... Walters added 8 ppg... Franklin and Frady scored 10-12 ppg combined.  With that said, at times Smith scored close to 20 as a reliable 3rd option.  Walters was still getting in trouble for not looking to score 🙂  

Bloomfield-  Destroying Eastern and losing a close game to Loogootee rounded out their weekend.  If I'm not mistaken, Bloomfield took the County Keg.  I'm assuming Bloomfield is still not at full strength.  They had one go down against Linton, 2 who are/were hobbling around, one that may not play all year.  This should be the year the Cardinals make a postseason run.  They need to get healthy.  As for the Sectional... North Central was their kryptonite last year.  I don't know if Clark & Co. have enough to challenge them.  Shakamak is too soft to challenge.

North Central-  A loss to a solid North Knox team wasn't the start they were looking for on Thursday, but bouncing back with 2 wins to finish the weekend isn't bad.  I'm not sure NC is where they were last year, but I will be keeping my eye on next week's game vs. Bloomfield.  Clark has been really good against them the last few years.

Shakamak-  A 10 point win against WRV was nice, but did little to separate them in most people's minds.  Word is JT May only scored a couple points.  Gilbert was big again, but he isn't getting much help.  At the beginning of the year... I felt like this team could challenge come March... From what I have seen... they are too soft physically and mentally to challenge good teams.  They can always hope North Central beats Bloomfield come sectionals... hmm... sounds strangely familiar.

WRV-  They went 0-2, but seemed to be scoring a little more than earlier in the year.  Of course, they also gave up over 150 points in 2 games.  

Eastern- They also went 0-2.  Not sure what to say... they are basically exactly where most people expected.  The win against Clay City was a little unexpected, but the team seems to play hard.  Plus... one never knows who is or isn't playing.

Clay City-  Winless in the conference.  Nobody expected a good game vs. TH North.  Cloverdale has the Thomas kid... CC doesn't have that type of kid.  They seem like a team full of pieces, but no stud.

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Apparently that North Daviess/Linton game has sparked the shot clock discussion yet again:  https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/high-school/2022/01/24/ihsaa-basketball-should-indiana-add-shot-clock-high-school-debate-jaron-tibbs-cathedral/6587782001/

Note: article is behind a paywall

Quote

It is my experience in the past few years the argument over class basketball has taken a back seat to two other hot-button topics: the need for a shot clock (or not) and seeding the sectional (or not).

The pro-shot clock crowd will sometimes point at a low-scoring game and shout, “THIS IS WHY WE NEED A SHOT CLOCK!” without knowing the details. But the details from Friday’s 24-23 victory for Class A top-ranked North Daviess over 2A No. 2 Linton-Stockton added fuel to the argument for a shot clock, which is becoming more commonplace throughout the country in high school basketball.

Rick Semmler, sports director of WTHI in Terre Haute, posted video of Linton-Stockton holding the ball for the final two minutes, 30 seconds of the first half and final 90 seconds of the third quarter. North Daviess did not extend its defense, allowing the Miners to melt the clock on both occasions for a final shot.

The reaction on social media was about what I would expect. Some call it disrespectful to basketball to stand there and hold the ball, others mention it is up to the defense to come out and make them play, some say it is all part of the strategy of trying to win the game.

I will say this: I am slightly in favor of a shot clock (I think 45 seconds for high school basketball is perfect). But I cover probably 70 games a year and almost never see a team flat-out holding the ball at midcourt. Very rarely. My preference for a shot clock comes more from these two aspects of a game:

>> A fourth-quarter flow. Let’s say a team is down by 10 points with four minutes left. If that team is unable to get a steal, it is forced to start the foul-fest to try to get back into the game. If it knows it can lock down for 45 seconds with a shot clock, it could get the ball back on offense and attempt to come back that way instead of a parade to the free-throw line.

>> Rewarding a defense. If a team can defend for 45 seconds, it should be rewarded.

To be fair in this situation, Linton-Stockton coach Joey Hart and North Daviess coach Brent Dalrymple are two of the best around. They have almost 700 wins between them and both have a realistic chance of winning state championships this season. A big part of the reason for a 24-23 score was great defense, not holding the ball.

But I would love to see that strategy — if you need to use it — reserved for the sectional or whatever round of the tournament beyond the sectional. It is all fair game in a one-and-done situation. You do what you need to do to win the game. But for a regular-season game? I don’t love it.

Someone responded that Dr. James Naismith did not intend the game to have a shot clock. That might be true, but there were also nine players on a side, a jump ball after every made shot and peach baskets. The game evolves. I’ve floated this idea before, but I’d love to see one season of games at Class 4A gyms played with a 45-second shot clock as trial run all the way through the tournament. Let’s collect some data and see if the game is any different, better or worse.

....

 

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Those complaining about a team holding the ball so long have likely not seen the video of the Championship that Milan won. Exact same scenario, Milan held the ball and the defense never extended. That score was just 32-30. 

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