Here are five things about prep basketball in the Fort Wayne area that fans will learn this weekend:
1. Will the three SAC leaders take care of their business?
The Summit Athletic Conference slate this Friday does not include a must-see game between top teams, but it does have some interesting matchups. Concordia Lutheran, Northrop and Wayne all sit atop the league with 3-1 records, and all three play teams lower down in the standings, with Concordia hosting Snider, Northrop hosting Bishop Dwenger and Wayne traveling to Bishop Luers. The one thing we have come to understand in the SAC this year is that no team is safe at any time, and that will no doubt continue this Friday. The front-runners all could emerge Friday night with 4-1 league records, but the past few weeks have shown that with so many talented teams, that likely will not happen.
2. An ACAC team will control its own destiny.
The matchup between league undefeated teams Adams Central and Bluffton on Friday is not just to stay unblemished in the ACAC, but also to get into position to control its own destiny. Leo also sits undefeated at 3-0 but has yet to play Adams Central or Bluffton. That means that either the Flying Jets or Tigers at 4-0 will simply have to win their final three league contests to capture a conference championship. Of course, Adams Central is looking for its second consecutive season going 7-0 in the ACAC.
3. Will DeKalb continue its run?
The next three weeks could be magical for the city of Auburn. Beginning Friday, the Barons will face four straight league foes over the course of three weeks, with three of the four on the road. The slate begins at Columbia City this week, and while most will not give DeKalb a chance, not many gave the Barons a shot against New Haven or Norwell either, both victories earlier this season. The key for DeKalb is defense, with the team giving up just more than 50 points per game on average. If the Barons can keep teams like Columbia City and Homestead close to that 50-point mark, the chances of victory increase.
4. Can Bishop Luers recover?
The Knights (4-5) looked below-average at best Friday in the 95-59 rout at the hands of Northrop, but coach James Blackmon Sr. did his best with a roster that was missing the injured Matt Harris and three others who quit the team. After a week's worth of practice time to adjust the revamped roster, eyes will be on the Knights this weekend with a pair of games against solid opponents, first Wayne on Friday at home then a Saturday visit to Muncie Burris. Bishop Luers has not been under-.500 this late into a campaign since the 2005-06 season that saw the program finish 11-9. James Blackmon Jr. has been electric all season while averaging 37 points per game, but he cannot lead Bishop Luers to double-digit victories this season by himself. Defense is going to win games in the second half of the season for the Knights, not how many JBJ pours in on the offensive end. Coach Blackmon understands that and surely has been working with his team all week in shoring up the defense, particularly in transition.
5. Can South Side continue to play spoiler?
The Archers have not had much to praise this season, but things appear to be coming together for coach Mike Novell's squad. South Side played Northrop close in the SAC Tournament, then notched its first victories of the season earlier this month over Canterbury and Snider. The win over the Panthers is the most intriguing, especially entering a stretch of games that includes North Side, Northrop and Wayne. The Bruins and Generals are competing for the league championship, while the Redskins have given Concordia and Northrop their lone losses in conference so far. In other words, South Side has surprised one team in the SAC in Snider, so do not be surprised if it does so again over the next few weeks.