I could blame the late time of this post on several things. It could be that I’ve spent too much time at Christmas parties. I could easily use that excuse. I could blame the delicious pizza I had a few hours ago at our office party. Or the bacon-apple pie I had yesterday at another party. Yes, Kosciusko, an apple pie with bacon strips delicately laid across the top. It was divine.
But, I won’t take the low road. I won’t blame the pies, pizzas, deviled eggs, spiral ham, baked beans or Polish sausage that I’ve consumed at gatherings this week. Rather, I will blame the report cards of the Warsaw and Wawasee boys basketball teams.
Yes, these two rivals meet Friday night and it has taken me two weeks of researching and debating to know which team to pick. That is why it will be after 2 p.m. on Friday by the time this story is posted. But, more on that game later.
This will be my final picks of 2014, I will return fully loaded in the new year with pyrotechnics and free t-shirts for everyone!
(I’ve just been informed that neither of those things are true. My apologies.)
Please notice the picture of my cousin William. He picked a rather stunning outfit, in my opinion, to conduct his first-ever interview. So, if you’re in the Mound, Minnesota area and you need to get the word out on a breaking story, William Goralczyk is your man.
On to the picks!
Last Week: 6-2
High School Girls Basketball 12/20
No. 6 Triton (7-4) at No. 8 South Central (6-3), 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: A top-10 showdown in Union Mills! That is almost exciting! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take anything away from these two teams, I’m just trying to take a lot away from South Central. Why? Because it’s my column and I do what I want.Triton is going to roll in and crush the Satellites (still wanting to know why that is the mascot) with a sound defensive showing. That’s my analysis, defense wins.
Okay, it will take more than a strong defensive effort for Triton to win here, but I think that the Trojans will be more than productive on offense as well.
Shout-out to Kylie Mason for joining the 1,000-point club at THS. That’s a big accomplishment for any player at any school. Way to go, Kylie. Back that milestone up with, say, 15 points and five rebounds? Sounds good to me. Trojans all the way.
The Pick: Triton 46, South Central 39.
Wawasee (3-7, 0-1) at Warsaw (5-5, 0-1), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: What a weird game this has been in recent years. This is the one game that you can not count the Lady Warriors out of, for whatever reason. A few years back the Lady Tigers were steamrolling teams, but when they played a struggling Wawasee squad, it was a competitive 10-point contest. Last season Warsaw looked to be the superior team, but Wawasee stole a win, one of only two wins it had all season. I look for a similar game once again between these two familiar foes.
Warsaw has the superior talent and the home court advantage. On paper this game probably shouldn’t be that close. But, if Wawasee decides to play offense Saturday night, this will be an interesting game.
The key here will be what Warsaw’s offense does. If the Tigers come out hitting, then I don’t see a scenario where Wawasee keeps up. But, if Warsaw struggles and allows Kylee Rostochak to get going, then Wawasee might steal a win. I’m leaning towards the former in this scenario. I like Pam Miller to have a big night at The Den.
The Pick: Warsaw 54, Wawasee 39.
No. 15 Tippecanoe Valley (8-1, 2-0) at Whitko (5-5, 0-1), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: If you’re not making the trip to Union Mills, this game should be the next on your list to see Saturday night.
Tippecanoe Valley brings in a talented crop of players the includes Anne Secrest and Caylie Teel while Whitko boasts several budding stars of its own in Brianna Cumberland and Ali Reiff. This matchup will be one to watch for the next few years as Teel is the only senior in that bunch I just listed, the other three are sophomores.
Saturday’s game is going to go in Valley’s favor. Not because of a lack of effort or talent on the Whitko side, but rather a lack of execution. I feel Valley will be able to force more Whitko turnovers and mistakes and take advantage of those more often than Whitko will be able to do. This seems like a game that will be close and physical to start, but will end with Valley on top at 3-0 in Three Rivers play.
The Pick: Valley 66, Whitko 50.
High School Boys Basketball 12/19
Warsaw (4-1) at Wawasee (5-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: This is the first time in several years that these two teams have entered the conference opener with such impressive records. Unfortunately, one of these teams has to lose tonight. Figuring out which team will lose has been the frustrating part.
Wawasee is much improved from last year and will have a suddenly strong supporting cast of students behind it tonight. But, nobody travels better than Tiger fans and I know Warsaw students will show out for tonight’s game. That won’t take away the home court advantage, but it will even things out a little.
The key players will be Rashaan Jackson of Warsaw and Gage Reinhard of Wawasee.
Which Rashaan Jackson are we going to get tonight? We’ll either see normal Rashaan, who is a solid player, or Super Rashaan Rampage Jackson, who is unstoppable. Wawasee can stop normal Rashaan, nobody can stop Super Rashaan.
Same goes for Warsaw, the Tigers can contain one scorer, maybe two, but if Wawasee has three or more guys step up to score, the Warriors should win this one.
Other players to keep an eye on will be Warsaw’s Tim Swanson and Wawasee’s Aaron Voirol. They are both capable of heating up and hitting big shots, if either of them get going, it will be huge for their side.
The final factor is the crowd. I mentioned it earlier, Warsaw will have a big block there to match the rowdiness of Wawasee’s student section. Syracuse is the place to be tonight if you’re a high school hoops fan. I expect a great game from start to finish and a big win for…
The Pick: Wawasee 67, Warsaw 60.
Whitko (0-5) at Tippecanoe Valley (2-3), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: This Whitko team grows up a little more every time it takes the court. Eventually the Wildcats are going to stun somebody and there will be much rejoicing. Nate Walpole is becoming more consistent, the players are buying into Roger Fleetwood’s vision, other players are stepping up. Good things are happening in South Whitley. But, better things will be happening for the Vikings tonight.
Valley has a wider variety of players to pull from. The team is inconsistent, yes. But Valley also has several players that can emerge as a lead scorer on any given night, Whitko is not there yet. Alex Thacker, Jared Littlejohn and Alec Craig are all the big shots for Bill Patrick’s Viking team, look for at least one of them to step up Friday night to pick up a TRC win.
I loved what I saw from Whitko against Wawasee, that’s a game the the ‘Cats could have won had a few things gone differently. The important thing is that there is a groundswell of confidence in Whitko’s locker room, that will start paying off sooner rather than later, I just don’t see it happening against a much more well-rounded Vikings team this weekend.
The Pick: Valley 59, Whitko 46.
No. 15 Triton (3-3) at New Prairie (1-1), 8 p.m.
The Scoop: It could be the game of the year for the Northern States Conference and it’s only week one.
The Trojans roll in with six games under their belts, New Prairie has only played a pair due to it football team going to the State Finals. (I can’t remember who New Prairie beat to get there, might have to call Mike Ganger to find out.)
Anyway, this will be the first true test that New Prairie has had, in my mind at least. The Cougars have the home court advantage in this one, that’s a plus. But Triton has more momentum coming into this one. I really don’t have a lot of doubt about picking the Trojans in this one, that should probably scare Trojan fans. The Cougars are more than capable of winning this game, especially at home, I just have a strong feeling for the Trojans in this one. Triton knocks down seven or more threes in this one to get the win.
The Pick: Triton 63, New Prairie 59.