History is about to be made right before for your very eyes!
This week I will be doing two things that I have NEVER done with my picks. Yes, this week it is time to up the ante (but, probably not next week because it takes a lot of work to up antes).
This week I will be picking two games for one team and I will also be picking two swim meets. Both are first for me and maybe even for any professional picker anywhere (that is a total guess on my part).
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “But, Nick, your Super Bowl pick was so wrong that it made us laugh at your picking ability.” And yes, you would be correct in saying that. My pick for the Super Bowl was terribly wrong and I briefly considered retirement (again). But, let’s just face the facts here, nobody, and I mean N-O-B-O-D-Y nobody, picked that Super Bowl correctly. There was not one analyst, expert, former player/coach or even die-hard fan that saw that 43-8 butt whooping coming. So, I own up to my terrible pick and bring you a weekend full of picks that might just be my best yet.
Before we move on, one quick shout-out to Triton’s Tanner Shepherd. Shepherd eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career in the Trojans loss to Mishawaka Marian on Thursday night. Shepherd is the second local athlete and (Tanner) to accomplish the feet this season as Tanner Andrews did the same for Tippecanoe Valley earlier this winter. Congratulations, Tanner!
Also, good luck to all of the area wrestlers in the regional this week!
Last Week: 8-2
Girls High School Basketball 2/7-2/8
Northridge (15-4, 5-1) at Wawasee (2-14, 1-4), 2/7, 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: The Raiders are not going to lose this game. I’m a Wawasee grad and even a former member of the Lady Warrior program (I was a manager, Coach Zolman wouldn’t give me a spot on the team for some reason). But there is no secret that this has been an incredibly rough season for what has otherwise been a very consistent program. The future should be bright for Wawasee with young studs like Kylee Rostochak, Seaquinn Bright, Hannah Haines and a very good crop of eighth graders coming through. But right now Wawasee cannot match the talent of Northridge and certainly not the drive. I say that because Northridge cannot afford to drop this game. They sit alone atop the NLC at 5-1, a loss would set off a very confusing set of events that could (and probably would) ultimately lead to a four-way tie in the NLC. Thankfully, that should not happen as the Raiders are the superior team in tonight’s contest.
The Pick: Northridge 61, Wawasee 38.
Adams Central (5-13) at Whitko (12-6), 2/8, 12:45 p.m.
Northfield (11-6, 3-3) at Whitko (12-6*, 4-2), 2/7. 8:15 p.m.
The Scoop: Yes, history is to be made right now! Whitko is playing two games this weekend so I decided to pick them both! I’m crazy but I do it for the fans, clearly this is more for the fans in South Whitley, but everyone can appreciate the effort.
Coach Brandon Bradley has truly turned this program around in his three seasons at Whitko. Regardless of how these last two games go, Whitko will have its first winning season since 2007-08. Nicely done, Lady Wildcats. Saturday is your time to shine. With sectional coming up next week, this is your last chance to really make a statement, winning these two games would certainly up confidence heading into Tuesday’s sectional game with West Noble.
Adams Central’s mascot? The Flying Jets, that’s cute. It will be even cuter when Jordan Hall flies right down the lane and through Central’s defense. Yes, Saturday’s matinee will be all Whitko.
As for Friday night? It will be tough. It is a battle for fourth, possibly even third place depending on Rochester’s game. The Lady ‘Cats will be tired after winning a big game Friday night, but will that slow them down for the season finale? Heck no! Coach Bradley won’t allow it to happen. I don’t know how Whitko will do in next week’s sectional, I’m up in the air still, but I can say that I like this team and how they play and I’m going for the sweep this weekend.
The Picks: Whitko 59, Adams Central 44.
Whitko 51, Northfield 49.
Boys High School Basketball 2/7-2/8
North Miami (1-11, 0-4) at Whitko (1-12, 0-4), 2/7, 6:30 p.m.
The Scoop: I talked last week about how 2013-14 has been a very rough year for the Wildcats. Obviously that has not changed in seven days time. The good news is that the Wildcats can turn that all around tonight. Yes, I’m serious. A win tonight would be extremely satisfying for coach Scott Wessel and company. The only win that North Miami has this year is over Whitko back in December in a holiday tournament. It was a 54-45 overtime loss for the Wildcats and is surely a game they would like to have back. Well, they get that game back tonight, sort of. The Wildcats are not winning sectionals this year, there will be no magical run to State. The team simply does not have much to look forward to for the rest of the year, but tonight they do. Tonight they can right a wrong from earlier in the season and most likely avoid finishing last in the TRC when the season ends. Wildcats, you’re at home, defend your court and get some vengeance!
The Pick: Whitko 49, North Miami 40.
Tippecanoe Valley (9-2, 4-0) at Wabash (5-6, 2-2), 2/7, 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: Now that we have covered the bottom of the TRC, let’s look at the top. Valley stands alone in first place with a 5-0 record. The Vikings have won five straight games by an average of 15.4 points per game. Valley is hot right now. Wabash? Well, the Apaches are not so hot at the moment. They have won just one game since December, a four point victory over Whitko back on 1/31. There is no need to fool around with other stats and figures here, this game belongs to Valley. Look for Valley to run this streak to 10 or 11 games before ending the season with its two rivalry games.
The Pick: Valley 60, Wabash 48.
Warsaw (9-6, 2-3) at Elkhart Memorial (6-9, 3-2), 2/7, 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: Well, the dark horse of the NLC has finally come back to the pack. After starting out 3-0 in conference play the Charger have since lost two games and the road is not getting any easier. Warsaw has been hit with two (mainly one) heavy suspensions which will certainly make the remainder of the season more interesting but the Tigers proved last Friday that they can play tough without a key player, then on Tuesday they put doubt back into my mind. A solid showing at the Panther Pit against NorthWood followed up by a disastrous game at McCuen against Concord. That is two polar opposite performances in two very tough environments. If the Tigers are to win tonight, it has to be with Jordan Stookey absolutely going off on the stat sheet. I hate to put pressure on the young man, but he knows this is his team and he knows he has to do the bulk of the work now. Tonight is a test for Stookey and the Tigers, if they win, they will end the season fine, if they lose, it could be a long road to the sectional.
The Pick: Memorial 56, Warsaw 50.
LaVille (6-6, 3-1) at Triton (8-6, 2-2), 2/8, 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: Mr. 1,000 (Tanner Shepherd) and the Trojans look to get over .500 in NSC play tonight against LaVille. The Trojans just cracked the coaches’ poll in Class 1A, sure they are just No. 16 but the fact is that they are being noticed again, and with good reason. The Trojans have won four of their last five and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. Playing at home this season the Trojans are 5-2 and I expect that record to improve tonight. Triton has had a weird schedule so far. After playing its first three games of the season at home, the Trojans have only played four since then. Triton even had a six game road trip earlier this year, that’s almost unheard of for high school teams. I think they will settle back in on Saturday and get the win, I’ll even call 20+ points from Shepherd.
The Pick: Triton 58, LaVille 49.
Wawasee (3-10, 2-3) at Northridge (13-2, 5-0), 2/8, 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: Yippee for me I get to go back to my favorite town, Middlebury, for the fourth time this year. Imagine my excitement.
Yes, I will be at Northridge covering this game tomorrow night. Look, Wawasee is better than 3-10, I promise you that. The problem remains that the Warriors are not nearly good enough to beat Northridge. Actually, that isn’t even true. Wawasee CAN beat Northridge, they can. I know they can. The Warriors play solid defense most of the time and run a methodical offense very well (almost to methodical at times). The issue for Wawasee is that it cannot finish. Wawasee has several guys that are not afraid to take a shot, which is good. The shot just seldom goes in, which is bad. Wawasee has played well on the road this year, so maybe being in Middlebury will help them (it sure as he** won’t do a thing for me). Wawasee has to end its NLC losing skid which now stands at 18. I really hope it happens tomorrow, I would want nothing more than to see all of Northridge’s stuck-up, insufferable fans walk out of that gym knowing they lost to Wawasee. Unfortunately, with the scoring inconsistency Wawasee has, it just won’t happen.
The Pick: Northridge 63, Wawasee 41.
Girls Swim Sectionals 2/8
Concord Sectional, 2/8, 1 p.m.
The Scoop: Speaking of those lovable Northridge fans…
Saturday afternoon at Concord High School it is going to get very, very intense. Wawasee ended its losing streak to Northridge that dated back to 1996 just a few weeks back. Then, the Lady Warriors backed it up by dominating the conference finals just five days later. Now the two teams will meet one last time for sectional supremacy.
This sectional is about three teams, Wawasee, Northridge and Goshen. They were the top three teams at the NLC meet and should be the top three tomorrow afternoon.
Wawasee is looking for its first sectional since 1999, Northridge has won 11 of the past 12 sectional titles and I speak for every non-Raider fan in the area when I say that it is way past time for this reign to be over. Wawasee delivered the first blow in the regular season, hit Northridge right in the gut at the NLC meet and tomorrow afternoon the Lady Warriors will deliver the knock-out punch. Bre Robinson and Paige Miller will blaze the trail for Wawasee but the victory will come from the strong depth of this squad. Mikala Mawhorter, Shelby Adams, Anna Park and Cassidy Manning are just some of the names that will be doing the grunt work in the meet to bring home a huge victory for Wawasee.
Coach Julie Robinson has been working hard for this moment since she first took over in 2008 and Saturday afternoon she will give Northridge the final dose of its own medicine.
The Pick: Wawasee takes first place (I’m not predicting a score, sorry).
Warsaw Sectional, 2/8, 1 p.m.
The Scoop: There is not a huge storyline for the sectional taking place down the road at Warsaw High School but the excitement for another NLC team may be just the same.
The Tigers enter Saturday’s final as the favorite to win its home sectional. Warsaw placed three top seeds for tomorrow and have at least two swimmers in every final. Culver Military will offer a challenge with several top swimmers but ultimately this is Warsaw’s to lose.
Brenna Morgan will led the way for Warsaw as she should take first in both the 50 and 100 free. Warsaw’s 200 medley relay team edged out Logansport in the prelims and the two teams will be close again tomorrow but it Warsaw will have the edge with top swimmers Ashley Van Wormer, Erin Sandberg and Morgan on the relay team.
It is no guarantee for Warsaw to win but, again, the meet is theirs to lose.
Also, keep an eye out for Tippecanoe Valley’s Kate Gunter. The sophomore will have a tough time qualifying for state this season but is a name to learn now as she will be challenging for spots the next two seasons in the 100 fly.
The Pick: Warsaw takes first by a slim margin. (no, still no score prediction).
Finally, congratulations to my good friend and colleague, Mike Deak and his wife Angie. The Deaks welcomed in their first child, Caraline Grace, late Tuesday night. The future Cubs and Bears fanatic weighed in at 7lbs.11oz. Congratulations to a truly amazing couple that will make two fantastic and exciting parents!