Friday, August 22, 2014

ECA boys hoops to play Warsaw ... yes, that Warsaw

Posted on Oct. 9, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Oct. 9, 2013 at 2:07 p.m.

It looks like Elkhart Christian Academy is going to run away with the honor for the most interesting area boys basketball schedule of the 2013-14 season.

The Eagles have added three first-time-ever opponents, but even if they had added only one, and that one were the Warsaw Tigers, it still would have been the area’s most interesting.

Indeed, ECA does face Warsaw, that Warsaw, on Feb. 18 at Warsaw.

A few years ago, the notion of the Eagles playing against the Warsaw Tigers would’ve seemed no more likely than the Eagles playing against Warsaw, Poland.

A few years ago, ECA was still in its infancy as an IHSAA school, and was a member of Class 1A.

Big-school Warsaw, on the other hand, might be one of the longtime, unofficial blue bloods of Indiana high school basketball, steeped in tradition and trophies.

Yes, ECA’s still in 1A now, but the Eagles are coming off a 14-8 mark that matches their best in their nine years as an IHSAA school, and they have a promising season on the horizon with Ryan Kupferschmid and Kenny Bearss, among others, back. It’s a season ECA fans have anticipated for a long time.

Elkhart Christian basketball coach Ryan Culp Elkhart Christian basketball coach Ryan Culp

"We’ve looked for opportunities to strengthen the schedule the last couple years," coach Ryan Culp said Tuesday, Oct. 8, "and with this particular group, I think our schedule and some of the places we’ll go give us a great opportunity to prepare for the sectional, and hopefully beyond."

Also new to the schedule are Mishawaka (Dec. 17) and Fairfield (Feb. 8), both road games for ECA as well.

Teams that are coming off the Eagles’ slate from a year ago are South Bend Trinity, New Prairie and Fort Wayne Canterbury — which, by the way, was previously in the same sectional as ECA, but is moving up to 2A with its increased enrollment.

The Eagles also will be continuing their still fairly new series with much bigger schools Elkhart Memorial, South Bend St. Joseph and Elkhart Central, those matchups entering their second, third and fourth years, respectively.

The games with Warsaw and Fairfield are just one-year contracts, according to Culp, based on those schools having had one-year needs to fill.

"You happen to talk with other coaches about schedules at summer scrimmages and things like that, and I’ve honestly been chatting the last couple years with almost anybody you can think of, seeing who might have openings," Culp said. "So on both Warsaw and Fairfield, it was more us approaching them."

Added Culp, "I appreciate that Craig (Coffman, athletic director) allows the coaches to be a part of the process, and then if something looks it might be a possibility, he goes from there."

Overall in 2013-14, ECA will play four 4A schools, four 3A schools and two 2A schools. As for the 1A schools, the Eagles will still meet, among others, perennial power Triton (defending state runner-up) and Lakewood Park, the school that ousted ECA in sectional play last winter on its way to going 17-6.

With the Warsaw, Fairfield and Mishawaka contracts all calling for ECA to be on the road, and with the Eagles also again playing in the Bethany Christian Holiday Tournament, they will have just eight home contests as opposed to 12 elsewhere this season, but come sectional time, Culp’s club just might be standing better off by virtue of those challenges.

Elkhart Christian 2013-14 Boys Basketball Schedule

  • Dec. 3 — Elkhart Memorial

  • Dec. 6 — Hamilton

  • Dec. 10 — at Prairie Heights

  • Dec. 17 — at Mishawaka

  • Dec. 21 — Bethany Christian Holiday Tournament

  • Jan. 7 — Lakeland Christian

  • Jan. 9 — Triton

  • Jan. 14 — at South Bend St. Joseph

  • Jan. 18 — at Oregon-Davis

  • Jan. 21 — Culver Academy

  • Jan. 25 — Howe

  • Jan. 28 — at Bremen

  • Feb. 1 — at Lakewood Park

  • Feb. 4 — at Jimtown

  • Feb. 7 — Bethany Christian

  • Feb. 8 — at Fairfield

  • Feb. 18 — at Warsaw

  • Feb. 22 — Argos

  • Feb. 25 — at Elkhart Central