During the SAC Holiday Tournament, the Snider girls gave Homestead arguably their stiffest challenge since joining the SAC prior to last season. It came on the heels of a bigtime Snider roll, winning five in a row before the loss to Homestead and a devastating loss to Northrop. But with that tournament game still fresh in both teams minds and Homestead coming off their first loss of the year, does Snider have a chance at home to upend the Spartans? You never really know how a team deals with a loss until they lose, so we will all be watching to see how Homestead bounces back. A big key will be the play, if there is any, of Snider's Kyla Covington who missed a game with Huntington North earlier this week for undisclosed reasons. Covington got to the basket at will most of the last meeting with Homestead. Are Jazmyne Geist and Haley Swing ready to step up and stop that?
2. Who will win the ACAC tournaments?
Heritage boys' upset of Jay County on Tuesday reminds us that anything can happen in a tournament, but Woodlan and South Adams have proven themselves to be tough draws all year long and a double header of the two schools in Saturday's title games is likely. How to win is simple, find a way to stave off the scoring depth of the other team. Woodlan girls must not just try to stop Lexi Dellinger, but also Madi Wurster and the South Adams boys will need to defend a deep Woodlan boys team, led by Aaron Hahn but with five or six legitimate scoring threats.
3. Who will win the NECC tournaments?
On the boys side, Fairfield/Lakeland is a likely final in a rematch of a December 6 two-point overtime win by Fairfield. Junior Luke Stephens is a scoring menace for Fairfield and Saturday's final could be a big time standout game for him. On the girls side, a Central versus West battle of Noble County can be expected. West Noble has flexed their muscles the most in this tournament, upending conference unbeaten Angola behind Kaylie Warble, who also scored a career high 24 points in the tournament opener.
4. Saturday's Norwell/Bellmont girls game will give us NE8 clarity.
The Bellmont girls have certainly been the surprise of the area, posting a 15-3 start to the season and currently sitting unbeaten in the Northeast 8 but still with games against the other big three teams in the conference. How will they match up with those teams, especially usual conference power Norwell on Saturday is the lone mystery remaining. While Bellmont goes into the game winners of 13 straight, Norwell and coach Eric Thornton have long been a tough hurdle for most teams. A win for Bellmont will keep them unbeaten heading toward a January 20 game with Huntington North, where a loss will have Norwell and Bellmont both at one loss in the conference and stuck waiting to see how the Vikings season plays out. Either way, it will clear some things up.
5. Snider/Homestead boys may be for the conference title.
We are again looking down the barrel of a possible surprising Homestead conference title. They weren't supposed to do it last year after losing Caleb Swanigan to graduation, so they surely can't do it again this year after losing Tahj Curry, right? With both teams at 3-0 in the conference and early favorite North Side with one loss, currently on the outside looking in, this is a chance for the winner to take the drivers seat and control their own destiny in hopes of a title. While Homestead looks to prove they never will fade away, the Panthers are looking for their first SAC title since 2009.
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