Intrigue peppers Friday's Elkhart-area boys high school basketball slate

Elkhart Truth photo/ Paige Mallory PassmanJimtown's Austin Pearison (4) scores as Clinton Chistian's Caleb Schrock (3) and Nathan Stutzman watch on Dec. 2, 2016 at Clinton Christian School. The Jimmies open their home season Friday, Dec. 9, when New Prairie visits.

Elkhart Central looks to extend its best start in 14 years, Concord looks to show again that it can bounce back from a staggering loss, Jimtown gets a look at one of its noted alums, and Elkhart Christian gets a look at both a college court and a No. 1 team during an intriguing Friday for boys high school basketball this week.

Also, Elkhart Memorial (1-2) plays a rare on-campus game when it welcomes LaPorte (2-0).

That's because North Side Gym will be occupied by the Blue Blazers (3-0, 1-0) as they try to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2002-03 as they welcome Glenn (1-2, 1-0) in Northern Indiana Conference play.

Further, Terry Smith will look to extend what's already the best-ever start by a head coach in Central's 45-year history. None of the previous nine won all of their first three games in charge of the Blazers.

Over at McCuen Gym, the seemingly enigmatic Minutemen (2-2) host Penn (1-2).

Concord suffered its most lopsided loss in 41 years and posted its lowest point total in 61 on Nov. 26 when it fell 66-26 at Michigan City. Yet three days later, the energized Minutemen won 60-59 over South Bend St. Joseph on a Denzel Halliburton buzzer beater.

Then in their last outing, they were downed 66-30 by Fort Wayne Carroll.

As young as the season is, Concord and Penn already have an out-of-area common opponent. The Kingsmen were beaten 81-63 by Carroll in Penn's opener.

Friday's game pits the area's two most tenured coaches against each other, with 1,006 career wins between them. The Kingsmen's Al Rhodes is 572-264 in his 36th year overall and the Minutemen's Steve Austin 434-288 in his 32nd year.

Near the other end of the experience spectrum, New Prairie's Derrick DeShone is in his third year, and on Friday, the former Jimmie star will go against his alma mater on his alma mater's floor for the first time.

DeShone, who helped lead Jimtown to Elkhart County's only-ever boys state title in 2004, did coach the Jims for one year (in 2011-12), and did face them once before (winning 48-43 last season), but this will be his first game against them at Jimtown.

Both his Cougars (1-3, 0-1) and the Jimmies (0-2, 0-1), who are playing their home opener, are seeking their first NIC wins.

Finally, on the campus of Grace College in Winona Lake, Elkhart Christian (2-1) encounters sectional nemesis Fort Wayne Blackhawk (2-1) in a neutral-site matchup.

The Class 1A top-ranked Braves have eliminated the Eagles in each of the last three postseasons on their way to sectional titles each of those years.

ECA coach Ryan Culp sought to get Blackhawk back on the regular-season schedule. This will be the first such meeting in nine years.



* Glenn (1-2) vs. Elkhart Central (3-0) at North Side Gym

* LaPorte (2-0) at Elkhart Memorial (1-2) (on Memorial campus)

* Penn (1-2) at Concord (2-2)

* New Prairie (1-3) at Jimtown (0-2)

* Elkhart Christian (2-1) vs. FW Blackhawk (2-1) at Grace College, 8 p.m.


* Penn vs. Elkhart Memorial at North Side Gym

* Argos (3-1) at Jimtown

* NorthWood (1-0 before Westview Thursday) at Fairfield (3-1)

* Goshen (2-1 before Fremont Thursday) at SB St. Joseph (0-3 before Bremen Friday)

* Angola (2-1 before Garrett Friday) at Northridge (0-3)

* Lakeland (0-3) at Bethany Christian (2-2)

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