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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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