It’s fine to feature a No. 1 option — as long as you don’t have to stop at that number when counting the options.
So it goes with boys high school basketball, where one-man teams have often been entertaining to watch, but have rarely been consistent winners.
As the area season hits its stretch run, there are multiple clubs getting more multiple with their sources of scoring, and as it so happens, winning a little more to go with it.
Two of those teams, Memorial and Northridge, have exactly identical marks at 7-9 overall, 3-3 in the Northern Lakes Conference.
Over the weekend, each saw its clear-cut star miss double digits for the first time all season, and each won anyway.
Still, who in their right mind would’ve bet Memorial could’ve beaten Warsaw at Warsaw last week with senior Markese McGuire scoring five points and going 1 of 14 from the field?
Certainly not me, not without 100 to 1 odds anyway.
The Crimson Chargers pulled it off, though, 48-47, thanks in lead part to senior James Hershberger striking for a career-high 21 points.
CLICK HERE to find Twine Line’s selections Nos. 4-6 for the top 25 Elkhart County boys basketball players in the last 25 years.
Memorial coach Mark Barnhizer is as firm a believer as anybody in the area in having an identifiable pecking order of options and an offense thusly geared when necessary, but even he sort of foretold the Warsaw result a week earlier when he said after his team’s win at Goshen that “we kind of seem to go as James goes. If he plays well, we tend to play well, and if he doesn’t, we usually don’t. That kind of puts pressure on the kid, but it seems to be the truth.”
There’s zero doubting that McGuire is the Chargers’ best player. He’s not only the one who should be taking the most shots most of the time, but the one who can get off reasonable-chance shots at times nobody else can.
Nevertheless, Memorial, like any team, will enthusiastically welcome an increase in genuine scoring threats.
In the Chargers’ case, Hershberger seems to be back from a mid-season slump.
His season scoring log reads sort of like a sandwich. Hershberger has averaged 14.7 points over his last three games as Memorial’s knocked off a pair of teams with winning records. He also averaged 12.2 over the first five games as the Chargers opened 3-2, but then averaged just 3.9 over the next eight as Memorial went 2-6.
The emergence of sophomore Dimitri Giger has helped as well — he averaged 4.5 points over his first six varsity games, but is at 8.6 over the last 10 — as has the return of Freddie Rhodes from a wrist injury.
Meanwhile for Northridge, junior standout Nate Ritchie tallied a season-low nine Saturday at Wawasee, but the Raiders cruised anyway, 63-31.
In fact, they won their fourth straight on the direct heels of losing seven straight.
Similar to Memorial, there’s an emerging sophomore in the mix, Pete Smith, who has averaged 13.8 points over the last four games after averaging 6.6 over the first 12.
And there’s a re-emerging player with another one of those sandwich-like scoring logs.
Junior Sam Ahonen averaged 13.9 points over Northridge’s first five games this season, contributing to a 3-2 start. Then he averaged 5.4 over the next eight, corresponding with a 1-7 mark, and now he’s at 11.0 over the last three wins.
It’s wonderful to have a genuine No. 1, and winningful to have other guys worthy of adding to the numbering process.
Bits O’ Twine
Girls take center stage this week with sectionals, which shifts the boys schedule around a bit. There are no games involving IHSAA area boys teams Tuesday or Friday, with the heavy night becoming Thursday. As for the handful of IHSAA area boys teams that do play Saturday, those contests will each follow 1 p.m. JV starts.
The state alphabetical results list that showed “Elkhart” on three straight lines was an eye-grabber Friday. Central, Memorial and Elkhart Christian each won on the same evening for the first time since Jan. 7, 2011.
In case you missed this one, Tippecanoe Valley beat visiting Wabash 146-56 on Friday.
It was the most points by an IHSAA boys team since Evansville Bosse defeated Evansville Christian 156-30 in 1985-86.
Explained Valley coach Bill Patrick, a veteran of 44 seasons, afterwards, “They pressed us full court the whole game and trapped in the half court. There was really nothing you could do but go to the basket.”
Patrick said he couldn’t have seen this coming. The Vikings are 14-2, but at 5-10, Wabash is hardly tragic. Further, Valley hasn’t scored more than 77 points in any other game this season and the Apaches hadn’t allowed more than 81 in a regulation game.
The Vikings had 120 points through three quarters. Junior Tanner Andrews, who went in averaging a team-leading 16.1 points, tied a Valley single-game record with 51.
Anthony’s Twine 12
Team W-L 1. Concord (1) 14-1
2. Penn (3) 12-4
3. SB Adams (2) 13-2
4. Plymouth (4) 14-3
5. SB Riley (5) 11-4
6. Westview (7) 15-1
7. Marian (8) 9-6
8. NorthWood (6) 11-5
9. West Noble (11) 14-2
10. SB Clay (9) 11-6
11. Triton (—) 11-5
12. Warsaw (10) 9-7
Last week’s ranking in parentheses. Teams chosen from among the 38 making up the NLC, NIC, NSC, NECC and independents Bethany and Elkhart Christian. Dropped out: LaVille.
IHSAA Area Records
School W-L Off. Def.
Westview 15-1 64.8 42.4
Concord 14-1 60.2 44.7
Penn 12-4 67.1 53.4
Elkhart Christian 11-5 65.5 50.9
NorthWood 11-5 62.8 51.9
Goshen 9-6 51.3 52.3
Marian 9-6 66.1 60.0
Fairfield 8-9 51.3 51.6
Memorial 7-9 55.9 60.5
Northridge 7-9 52.1 52.5
Jimtown 5-10 45.3 49.6
Central 5-11 50.3 52.4
Wawasee 4-11 54.1 66.5
Bethany Christian 3-12 46.9 59.5
Player, School G Pts Avg
Demetrius Jackson, Marian 14 395 28.2
Markese McGuire, Memorial 16 353 22.1
Ryan Kupferschmid, ECA 16 320 20.0
Nate Ritchie, Northridge 16 292 18.3
Zach Zurcher, NorthWood 16 292 18.3
Austin Torres, Penn 16 279 17.4
Franko House, Concord 14 228 16.3
Jonathan Wilkinson, NorthWood 16 250 15.6
Kyle Miller, Westview 16 254 15.9
Devin Cannady, Marian 15 219 14.6
Alex Clark, Wawasee 15 215 14.3
Sam Stegelmann, Goshen 15 214 14.3
Terell Street, Central 14 184 13.1
Caleb Morris, Bethany 15 193 12.9
Filip Serwatka, Concord 15 190 12.7
Chandler Aspy, Westview 16 201 12.6
Sol Brenneman, Bethany 15 180 12.0
Conner Sowders, Penn 16 189 11.8
Jordyn Bontrager, Westview 16 189 11.8
Tanner Watson, ECA 16 182 11.4
Garrett Scott, Fairfield 17 186 10.9
Kenny Bearss, ECA 16 168 10.5
Jordan Geist, Penn 16 167 10.4
Jesse Good, Goshen 15 153 10.2
Marcus Rodes, Fairfield 17 171 10.1
Brad Lantz, Fairfield 17 169 9.9
Chase Hoeflinger, Jimtown 13 127 9.8
Cory Waycaster, ECA/Jim 11 106 9.6
Blake Brouwer, Central 16 145 9.1
Sam Ahonen, Northridge 16 145 9.1
This Week’s Games
NorthWood vs. Memorial at North Side Gym
Central at SB Clay (11-6)
Northridge at Concord
Glenn (7-8) at Jimtown
Wawasee at Goshen
Fremont (9-6) at Fairfield
Lakewood Park (10-5) at Bethany Christian
Mishawaka (8-7) at Penn
Prairie Heights (9-9) at Westview
SB Adams (13-2) at Marian
Elkhart Christian at SB Trinity (7-8 before Michiana Home School Tuesday)
East Noble (2-15 before New Haven Thursday) at Goshen, 1 p.m. JV start
Northridge at West Noble (14-2), 1 p.m. JV start
Fairfield at Angola (6-9), 1 p.m. JV start
Central Noble (4-11 before Lakeland Thursday) at Wawasee, 1 p.m. JV start