The Blackhawk Christian boys team took a big hit over the holidays, losing center Drake Thompson to an injury that may keep him out the rest of the season. The loss showed during the Columbia City/Huntington North Holiday Hoops Tournament, where they lost three of four games (three of their four total losses this season). But the Braves have worked to put that behind them, storming through last week with wins over two Summit Athletic Conference teams, 81-79 over South Side in overtime on Tuesday and 72-60 over Concordia Lutheran on Saturday.
A big catalyst in the wins has been sophomore Lucas Kroft, who led the Braves with 16 points and 14 rebounds in Saturday's win.
"People are starting to understand what they need to do on the court more, now that Drake is out. We don't have someone right under the rim to get all the rebounds, so now all of us have to work harder for them," Kroft said.
And it was Kroft who led by example in that work against a young, but scrappy Cadets team on Saturday, leading both teams in rebounding and working hard around the basket.
"I think I have that responsibility now. When Drake wasn't injured I didn't have to worry about getting rebounds as much, but now that he is out I think the team needs me to get more," Kroft added.
That aggression will serve them well as they head into the next several weeks. Blackhawk Christian will face six more SAC opponents before year's end, including two this week with Homestead and Bishop Luers. They have more SAC opponents on their remaining schedule than teams in their own class; they play just four more 1A teams before Sectional play. The Braves have a long standing drive to top teams in the city's conference. They went just 2-7 last year against the conference, but are 13-13 against the SAC during coach Marc Davidson's tenure and went 6-2 against the conference in 2014-2015.
"These games against SAC teams really help us during our tournament run, because they are bigger/better teams than most that we will play in 1A," Kroft said. "I think most of the teams think that we are an easy team to beat, but with these wins it can help put our name out there."
ACAC and NECC Tournaments
Both tournaments kickoff Tuesday with six ACAC games and eight in the NECC. Woodlan has the bye in the ACAC Tournament and on the boys side, the Warriors are the lone remaining unbeaten in conference. On the girls side, Woodlan is just 8-9 overall but 4-1 in conference and one of three 4-1 conference teams, along with Jay County and South Adams, who are still vying for a regular season title.
"It's been a long time since Woodlan has won the conference championship so we're pretty hungry for it. All of the seniors have been talking about this since we were freshman," said Woodlan senior Rain Hinton. "Jay County beat us during the regular season and we always come up short with South Adams so we're just excited to get on the court and show why we deserve it."
Jay County, who has dominated the ACAC since joining, still has a chance to win the conference on both boys and girls sides, but could both end up facing South Adams in the semi-finals of the tournament. The Starfires girls gave the Patriot girls their only conference loss this year.
The highlight of the opening round of the Northeast Corner Conference Tournament will be Tuesday's double-header at Fremont as they host Churubusco. The two teams just played Friday with Churubusco edging out a 64-59 win on the boys side and Fremont winning 45-39 on the girls side.
1,000 point club
In the final week of 2016, three more players joined the 1,000 career point club. Snider's Malik Williams passed the mark on December 28 during the semi-final round of the Summit Athletic Conference Holiday Tournament. Although the Panthers lost that night to Homestead, Williams hit the mark as part of a 25 point effort.
DeKalb's Leigha Brown became just the 11th player of any gender to join DeKalb's 1,000 point club on December 31 when she was named the MVP of the Goshen Tournament. Brown scored 50 total points on the day as the Barons won the tournament and passed 1,000 points in the first quarter of the championship game against Goshen.
East Noble's Brandon Nichols also surpassed the 1,000 point mark against Goshen, this coming in a December 23 overtime game. Nichols scored 24 points in the game to become the 6th ever East Noble boy to score 1,000 points in his career.
The three join three others - Concordia Lutheran's Shania Kelly, Homestead's Madisen Parker and Whitko's Brianna Cumberland - to surpass 1,000 points this season.
Karissa McLaughlin of Homestead currently has 2,220 career points, putting her 17th all-time in the state and 3rd in the area after scoring 23 on Friday and 16 on Saturday and passing former Canterbury standout Kindell Fincher and Snider great Tiffany Gooden...North Side boys were originally scheduled to play at Culver Academy on Saturday, that game has been moved to January 10...Northrop girls moved to 9-5 Friday with their first win over Snider in nearly 11 years...in a unique turn, the lone undefeated team in the area (Homestead girls) lost and the lone winless team in the area (Wayne girls) won, both on Saturday.