Red will be the dominant color in the second semifinal game of the 2A boys basketball regional at North Judson this Saturday afternoon when the 20-5 Westview Warriors go up against the 19-3 Adams Central Jets.
After suffering blowout losses to bigger schools in their season finales, both Westview and Adams Central regrouped to roar through their respective sectional fields. The Warriors secured their title with a 63-47 win over Bremen, while the Jets knocked off perennial power Fort Wayne Luers, 74-62 to win their first sectional crown in 11 years.
“Adams Central is a very smart, senior-dominated team with good size and several players who can shoot well from the perimeter,” observed Westview head coach Rob Yoder, who is guiding his fifth Warrior club to the North Judson regional. “Defensively, they are a lot like us in that they are long and their guards get a lot of rebounds.”
Maverick Baumer, a 6-6 senior, leads the Jets in scoring average (17.9) and rebounds per game (6.0). Classmate Dalton Combs, a 6-3 forward, tallies 15.0 points and grabs 5.4 boards a contest. Also along the Adams Central front line are 6-5 senior Kyle Fawcett (7.5 ppg.) and 6-6 senior Ben Snider (5.5).
“Their posts play on the perimeter just as much as they do inside,” said Yoder.
Isaac Luginbill and Keaton Fiechter, a pair of 6-0 seniors, man the Adams Central backcourt. Luginbill is scoring at a 9.6 clip, while Fiechter nets 5.4 points and nearly four rebounds a game. Fiechter also leads the Jets in both assists (96) and steals (40).
“Both their guards do a nice job of penetrating and kicking the ball out to the open man on the three-point line,” Yoder said. “The key for us defensively will be to get on their shooters as soon as they catch the ball. They shoot around 20, three-pointers a game, which creates a lot of long rebound opportunities. We must do a good job of blocking out and getting as many of those rebounds as possible.”
Brant Yoder, a 5-7 senior, leads the Westview scoring chart with a 14.5 per game average. Next best are 6-2 junior Kyle Miller (9.5) and 6-2 senior Adrian Brandenberger (8.5).
“Though Brant is our top scorer, we don’t rely on one player to lead us night after night,” said Yoder. “Three different players led us in scoring in each of our sectional wins.
“Balance is the key to our offense,” Yoder continued. “We play 10 players and a few of those must step up when they are needed. That’s who we are.”
After starting 15-1, which included a title run in the NECC tournament, the Warriors stumbled a bit in February, losing four of their last six. “We may have been a little tired mentally after the NECC tourney,” Yoder admitted. “We did not shoot well during those last weeks of the season which may have been a blessing. It taught the kids how to compete when their shots aren’t falling.”
Regardless of their outcome Saturday, Yoder is very proud of what his young squad has accomplished this year. “I challenge any team that loses over 80 percent of its offense from the previous year to come back and win 20 games. We’ve had a great year and hopefully we can make it even better by bringing back a regional championship.”
Saturday’s initial semifinal (tip-off at 11 a.m. LaGrange time) pits the 23-1 Hebron Hawks against the 14-8 Bowman Academy Eagles.
Hebron, which hasn’t lost since November 25, is led by 6-6 senior center Cody Artuso, who scored 20 points and snagged 11 rebounds in the Hawks’ 56-41 victory over Rochester in the finals of the Winamac sectional. Senior forward Jay Patz (6-6) and senior point-guard Damon Wallace are two other top players for Hebron.
Bowman Academy, the 2010 1A state champs, boasts a tall and talented roster that whipped last year’s 2A state runner-up Hammond Noll, 77-58 in the title game of the Wheeler sectional. DeJuan Marrero, a 6-5 senior headed to DePaul University on a hoops scholarship, poured in 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the romp over Noll.
Fellow seniors Stephen Hawkins and Elijah Ray have also secured collegiate deals. Hawkins, a 6-10 center, is going to Robert Morris College. Ray, a 6-6 forward, has signed with IUPUI.
Survivors of the semifinal games will return to North Judson at 8:30 p.m. to compete for the regional championship and a spot in the 2A semi-state set for March 17 at either Huntington North or Lafayette Jeff.