Players from every class showed that they will be a force for their teams in the season's second half
A column by Shooter
Friday, December 30, 2016 7:26 PM
The Summit Athletic Conference Holiday Tournament is now in the books and it was one to behold. The North Side boys became the first team to ever win four straight titles (and the first to win titles with two different mascots!), the Homestead girls stayed perfect by improving to 6-0 all-time in the tournament and Northrop's Richard Robertson was the lone player to join the all-time single game scoring list with his 35 points against South Side in the opening round.
And there were plenty more standout performances like Robertson's, even if not as dominant. But while a lot of those big time performances were from players we've come to expect it from, they were still fun for this frog to watch. But instead of focusing on those, Shooter wants to talk about eight players who I think showcased some breakout highlights during the tournament that will force opposing teams to make sure and not overlook them into 2017.
Haley Swing, Homestead
The lone non-senior in the Spartan lineup, Swing (a sophomore) played with a certain finesse throughout the tournament. She rebounded the ball well and stayed smooth and calculated with her shot when she took it. Adding Swing as a valid fifth option is huge to the Spartans as they rev up for a postseason run.
Nick Passino, Bishop Dwenger
One of the toughest draws of the tournament for any team was going to be having to deal with the length and athleticism of Snider's Malik Williams, but Passino's play against him should be raved about. He was consistently altering shots and outrebounding in the post in Tuesday's lone game for the Saints.
Daleshia Davis, Snider
Davis isn't new to the varsity scene though just a sophomore. But she really took over as a floor general in the tournament in ways that she had not yet. Against South Side, it was Davis' aggressive nature on offense that led the Panthers in several spurts that help them basically blow out the Archers to the point that South Side had to take chances with other Panther scorers throughout the game so they could double Davis on occasions.
Neeko Braster, Northrop
A senior, Braster showcased a surprise agility in the post against North Side on Tuesday and rebounded well against South Side on Monday. On a Bruin team that isn't looked at for their post play, Braster made people leave the tournament talking about his surprising movement inside.
Jaci Jones, South Side
Plenty has been said about the potential of this freshman, but her poise in running the point guard position in Tuesday's loss was one of the few highlights from a sluggish South team in their one tournament game. Jones' facial expression never wavered from stoic as her high level court vision was on display.
Adam Gottschalk, Concordia Lutheran
The Cadets are young and Gottschalk is part of a stellar sophomore class. While he played well on both sides of the ball in their loss to Wayne, I was pleasantly surprised at the leadership he took on with a team still searching for an identity. The Cadets could be one of the best teams in the conference in coming years with the experience they will stack up and already having a leader like Gottschalk will be valuable.
Laney Steckler, Carroll
Steckler was one of the best defensive players in the tournament you've not heard a lot about. She was a pace changer in Tuesday's win over Bishop Dwenger with her off ball defense and also flashed some signs of strong shooting as part of Carroll's loaded nine-player junior class.
Craig Young, Wayne
For all of the big time performances and record breakers in the tournament, Shooter will leave raving the most about Young, who showcased that he is absolutely, in my eyes, the most dynamic athlete in the conference. Young seems to be a kid who can do what he wants at will on the court and while all of these other players caught Shooter's eye, Young was my breakout player of the tournament.
Follow Shooter on Twitter at Shooter_ns