December 13, 2013

Challenging weekend

Unbeaten Logansport hosts Frankfort, Lafayette Jeff.

By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune

---- — Logansport’s boys basketball team has started 4-0 for the second straight season.

The Berries face a couple of big tests this weekend in an effort to stay undefeated with Frankfort (4-1) and Lafayette Jeff (2-2) coming to the Berry Bowl.

Logan hosts Class 3A No. 10 Frankfort tonight. The Hot Dogs’ lone loss thus far was a narrow defeat against McCutcheon.

The Hot Dogs have been regional finalists in Class 3A in each of the last two seasons. They have three players averaging in double figures this year in Christian Smith (16.4 ppg), Brody Kirby (12.0 ppg) and Isaac Rudd (10.0 ppg).

“They’re a really physical, experienced, talented team,” Logan coach Pat Skaggs said. “They have the making and talent of a team that reminds me of one of the teams I coached at Benton Central. They’re talented and deep enough to make a run in the tournament in 3A. They have a nice combination of inside and outside players. They have several kids that have started and played for four years. The Rudd kid moved in a couple years ago and he’s a heck of an athlete.

“I’ve seen them play live twice and on tape once. They’re a solid ballclub and it’ll be a great test and measuring stick to see where we’re really at.”

Skaggs added that Frankfort is “so physically strong.

“The game might be determined by how well we can rebound with them.”

The Bronchos will present a different challenge, as they don’t have a player above 6-foot in their starting lineup. But as Skaggs said, “Lafayette Jeff by far is the quickest team we will have played. What they don’t have in height they make up with hustle and quickness. I’m sure they’ll put a press on us that we haven’t seen yet. They’ll be a really hard team for us to guard. If by chance they’re hitting the 3-point shot we could be in trouble.

“They have three if not four guys who can score over 20 points in a game.”

The Bronchos have four players averaging in double figures in Darian Collins (14.5 ppg), David Hanyard (14.3), Devin Haney (12.5) and Quarin Hood (11.3).

The Berries have opened with wins over Peru, Maconaquah, Lewis Cass and Caston. They’re led by Carter Skaggs, who is averaging 27.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the first four games of the season.

A.J. Smith is averaging 11.5 ppg. Matt Jennings is at 11.3 ppg. Jalen Adaway averages 10.3 ppg and 6.3 rpg, and Andrew Wamsley adds 9.3 ppg.

H. Heights (2-1, 0-0 MIC) at Cass (2-1, 0-0 MIC)

The Kings’ Mid-Indiana Conference opener is a big one against the Huskies.

Heights is led by 6-1 junior guard Grant Weatherford, who is getting Division I looks in basketball and football. The Class 3A No. 12 Huskies have opened with wins over Lebanon and Mount Vernon (Fortville) and a loss to 3A No. 3 Guerin Catholic.

“They’ll be one of the best teams we face this year,” Cass coach Jon Kitchel said. “They have Weatherford back and [Hunter] Crist. Weatherford is a tremendous football player and he is equally as good on the basketball court. He’s a very strong and quick slasher. Crist is a strong player too and he can knock down outside shots. [Kurry] Miller is 6-6. They have a nice team.

“The conference will probably go through Heights. Whoever can slow them down enough and get them beat will have the upperhand in the conference. Northwestern, Western and Maconaquah are in there, but Heights is probably the one to beat.”

The Kings travel to Carroll (3-2) on Saturday night.

“That’ll be a game of diverse styles,” Kitchel said. “They’re 6-5, 6-5, 6-4 on their frontline. They stick the ball inside and go hard to the basket. We’ll press all over the floor so we don’t get into a halfcourt game.”

The Kings finished third at the county tourney after losing a late lead against Logansport before a blowout win over Pioneer.

“We didn’t get the job done against Logansport. We had mental breakdowns,” Kitchel said. “We’ll play hard. That’s what we hang our hats on is to play harder than the other team and get to every loose ball, attack the boards and pressure at all times.”

Caston (2-1) at Carroll (3-2)

The Comets are looking to bounce back from their first setback Friday against Logansport.

They’re facing another team that will have a big size advantage in Carroll, which features 6-5 junior forwards Jarin Bush and Brandon Dillon .

“It’s going to be a dogfight. They’re a very good team with good size,” Caston coach J.R. Howell said. “They have two very good post players and a good supporting cast to go with those two guys. It’ll be a tall task for us, no pun intended.

“We’ve got to make sure we key on those two inside. Obviously I believe they’ll go for our weakness which is size. It’ll be a dogfight on the road at a tough place to play. We’re up for the challenge.”

The Cougars have opened with wins over Clinton Prairie, North White and Frontier. They have losses to Seeger and Tri-County.

The Comets opened with wins over Lakeland Christian and Pioneer before Friday’s setback at Logan.

“Looking back at the tape we blocked out fairly well but they had a lot of offensive rebounds,” Howell said of the Berries. “They take a lot of long shots and a lot of rebounds came off long. We told them that was going to happen and we needed to be more disciplined in staying with the blockout. We needed to rebound better and control the tempo of the game and it did not go in our way.”

The Comets host Taylor (1-1) Saturday night for their first home game since the season opener. The Titans have a loss to Frankton and a win over Oak Hill.

“Honestly I haven’t watched too much film. I’m taking it one game at a time,” Howell said. “From what I have seen and heard from my assistants is they’re strong at the guard spots. They have quick guards that can handle the ball. It’s going to be a tough game as well. It’ll be tough being a back-to-back.

“We’re excited to get to play again and prove to ourselves that we can compete. Last Friday was a bad game. It was one of those games. We’re excited and anxious to get back on the floor.”

Pioneer (0-3, 0-0 MWC) at S. Newton (0-2, 0-0 MWC)

The Panthers travel to South Newton for their Midwest Conference opener tonight before hosting North Miami Saturday for their home opener.

The Rebels have opened with losses to Seeger and LaCrosse to start the year.

“We’re going to South Newton and it’s always a difficult place to go play,” Pioneer coach Austin Cowley said. “Coach [Michael] Hall will want to play their style which is man defense and to be physical with you. Offensively they’re very patient and get it inside.”

The Rebels are led by 6-5 sophomore Jarrett Hammel (12.5 ppg) and 6-3 senior Skylar Hiatt (8.5 ppg). The Panthers counter with 6-2 senior Brad Biggs (12.3 ppg) and 6-2 sophomore Caleb Kindley (10.3) both averaging in double figures to start the year.

“We’ll try to match their intensity and get easy baskets and get some scoring going,” Cowley said. “We’ve struggled the first three games offensively and we need to play solid defense and get some easy buckets on offense.”

The Panthers have opened with losses to Lafayette Jeff, Caston and Lewis Cass. They host an 0-3 North Miami team that has losses to Cass, Maconaquah and Tipton to start the year.

“North Miami has played good competition so far. They play very hard,” Cowley said. “Coach [Clay] Bolser is doing a good job with them. It’s our first game and we’d like to give the home fans a good game.

“We got back to work this week looking to make Pioneer better and not game planning around our competition. We found out what works the first three games and what doesn’t work and have added some things. I’m anxious to see how it works out against a couple good teams.”

Twin Lakes (2-2) at Winamac (0-1), Saturday

The Warriors’ Midwest Conference game at Frontier originally scheduled for tonight has been moved back to Feb. 7. Instead they are hosting Twin Lakes on Saturday night, which is usually played the week of Thanksgiving.

The Indians have wins over Kankakee Valley and Benton Central and narrow losses to McCutcheon and West Lafayette.

“They’re a very senior-laden team with a lot of experience,” Winamac coach Kyle Johnson said. “They’re an extremely good shooting team and extremely athletic, so what we have going for us is that it’s our first home game and hopefully we present them an atmosphere that is a challenge.

“It’ll be a great challenge. That’s what we need if we want to improve is to play great teams to prepare us for conference play and down the stretch for the sectional.”

The Warriors opened with a 53-34 loss at Rochester on Tuesday in their first game after a late start to due the football team’s semistate run.

“It didn’t go well at all. We shot as poor as can be,” Johnson said. “The effort was there. We were off a step or two with our touch close to the basket much less with 3-point shots. It’s a process. It’s not like football. It takes time and it was a perfect example that we want to play our best ball at the end of the year.”