Hello, Kosciusko, I’m back!
It has certainly been a while since you’ve had to sift through my drivel just to see which high school team I think might do better than another high school team. I know how much our quality time together has been missed.
When I last left you, it was before Christmas and so much has happened since then. Too much to list of course, but I will try to sum it up very quickly:
NorthWood and Warsaw are playing a basketball game tonight and nothing else matters.
So, there you have it, everything you need to know about what has happened in the past month. Okay, I’m underselling some things, but there is only one thing on everyone’s mind today and that is tonight’s showdown between the Panthers and Tigers.
Before break, I wrote a very long and personal story about stuff going on with my family. Looking back on that, I do not regret it but I do wish I would have made my message more concise. It was nearly 1,000 words of just rambling that made me feel better, but really added nothing of content to the reader. So, let’s just take a mulligan on that last article.
One of the biggest things to happen since my last article was the tragic death of Kim Conrad and her son, Stephen. Their lives were taken Christmas night after a horrible car wreck. If you have not been under a rock recently, you know what I’m talking about and nobody needs any more details.
I debated for a while whether or not to say something about the loss of these two amazing people. Mrs. Conrad was huge influence in my life, I’m just one of thousands that she reached through her work and friendship.
I felt too afraid to put down my thoughts into words. I wanted to avoid saying the wrong thing out of anger so I just clammed up and said nothing at all.
I felt like I was fine and had moved on from the tragedy but then Facebook sent me a friendly reminder this past Sunday that it was Mrs. Conrad’s birthday. My heart sank upon seeing that notification. I felt worse not because the loss hit me any harder than it hit anyone else in this community or anything like that, but because I had not done my job in memorializing a woman that had such a huge impact on my life. I was unable to attend her service at Wawasee and I was too petrified to put my thoughts into words. I realized this past Sunday how stupid I was being.
Mrs. Conrad always encouraged me and was always proud of anything I did. Again, I’m not special, that’s how she was with everyone and what made her special was that she was so genuine with her thoughts and actions. Like anyone else, I have a long list of stories that show why she was such a joy in my life, why she was such a positive impact on the lives of everyone in her community and why she is absolutely irreplaceable.
I don’t have to share my favorite story of Mrs. C to convince you of why she always lit up my world. If you knew Kim, you have your own story to justify her greatness. But, I will tell you that my story involves Purdue’s Breakfast Club, ask me about it sometime.
I could go on and on about why Kim was important to me. Again, anyone who knew her could do the same. With recent things I’ve experienced in my life, I turn to scripture to ease my mind. I try to find a passage that speaks to me and will uplift my spirits. This is usually where a writer inserts one of those messages into his or her story to wrap things up. But, I will not be that type of cliché. Instead, I will be another type of cliché.
When life is bringing you down and you are ready to throw in the towel, just remember the wise, yet simple, words of Mrs. Conrad, “It’s all good.”
Last Week: 4-1…this includes make-up date games between Wawasee and Warsaw and Whitko and Valley.
High School Boys Basketball 1/27
No. 1 NorthWood (14-0, 4-0) at Warsaw (11-5, 4-0), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: It’s the game that so many have been waiting for, the Panthers and the Tigers in a rematch for the ages (we hope). Last year these two teams met in another colossal showdown at the Panther Pit. The magic was quickly gone as Warsaw ended up getting a comfortable 51-35 win behind a clutch outing from Paul Marandet. This year will certainly be different because there is no Paul Marandet…all Warsaw has is Kyle Mangas! Wait, that was supposed to sound more ominous and bad. Somehow it still seems pretty upbeat and positive. Mangas comes in as, in my opinion, one of the most underrated players in the state. He averages 21.4 ppg and he is the motor for this Warsaw squad without question. Countering Mangas is NorthWood’s elite scorer in Vinny Miranda who averages 22.3 ppg. The Panthers have a great lineup and are a better offensive team overall, Warsaw relies very heavily on Mangas when it comes to offense, almost exclusively. He runs it, he’s the man. NorthWood, meanwhile, has other options in Luke Zurcher and Caleb Lung. The Tigers have struggled to find a consistent No. 2, but Asher Blum is making strides as of late that would suggest that he can fill that role.
I’ve seen both of these teams play and I feel NorthWood is the better team. But, I’ve also seen this movie before. These are the kind of games that Warsaw, for whatever reason, does not lose. It’s banana suit night at the Tiger Den, there will be hoards of kids actually dressed up as bananas. The environment is going to be electric and I’m jealous of anyone that will be in attendance. Warsaw has the home court advantage and history on its side. I know what the rankings show, I know what the records show and I know how a lot of people feel. But there are certain rights you have to earn, NorthWood has been unable to close the deal and get an NLC title, despite posting a 6-1 record each of the past three seasons. It might not be a beautiful performance tonight, but I’m always putting my money on the Tigers in games like this.
Nick’s Pick: Warsaw 53, NorthWood 46.
With girls sectionals coming up Tuesday, I’m jumping right into giving you my picks for the area brackets.
Girls Basketball Sectionals 1/31-2/4
Game 1: Goshen (8-13) vs. Penn (18-4), 1/31
Penn is not as dominant as last year, but the Kingsmen are the better team here, plus they boast a freshman by the name of Anne Goralczyk. Can’t pick against family! Penn 58, Goshen 33.
Game 2: Concord (4-18) vs. Northridge (23-1), 2/1 6 p.m.
I think this one is a little obvious. Northridge 67, Concord 23.
Game 3: Memorial (12-9) vs. Warsaw (19-3), 2/1 7:30 p.m.
Chargers took the first meeting, I like Warsaw for some revenge here. Warsaw 45, Memorial 38.
Semi 1: Penn vs. Central (11-9), 2/3 6 p.m.
Again, the family jargon. Penn 52, Central 35.
Semi 2: Northridge vs. Warsaw, 2/3 7:30 p.m.
I don’t know if avenging a loss is enough motivation here. The Raiders aren’t as good as their record shows, in my opinion, but you also don’t get to 23-1 by mistake. Northridge 56, Warsaw 45.
Championship: Penn vs. Northridge, 2/4 7:30 p.m.
This should be a fantastic final if these two teams end up getting there. Penn downed the Raiders 50-44 earlier this year, I think Northridge can best the Kingsmen here….and now my cousin won’t talk to me at the next family function. Northridge 48, Penn 42.
West Noble Sectional
Game 1: West Noble (15-8) vs. Lakeland (6-15), 1/31 6 p.m.
Chargers all the way, this is my dark horse team in this sectional. West Noble 74, Lakeland 29.
Game 2: NorthWood (15-9) vs. Wawasee (10-12), 1/31 7:30 p.m.
Wawasee shocked NorthWood earlier this season. It’s tough to beat the Panthers, it’s even tougher to beat them twice. NorthWood 47, Wawasee 34.
Semi 1: Fairfield (12-8) vs. West Noble, 2/3 6 p.m.
Dark horse! West Noble 56, Fairfield 46.
Semi 2: NorthWood vs. Tippecanoe Valley (20-4), 2/3 7:30 p.m.
NorthWood shocked Valley earlier this season. Its tough to beat the Vikings, it’s even tougher to beat them twice. (Shoot, I already used that line.) Valley 50, NorthWood 38.
Championship: Valley vs. West Noble, 2/4 7:30 p.m.
Yes, I’m crazy enough to think West Noble could do the impossible. No, I’m not dumb enough to actually pick the impossible. Valley 67, West Noble 48.
Central Noble Sectional
Game 1: Whitko (17-4) vs. Fremont (8-14), 1/31 7 p.m.
Wildcats, all day. No question about it. Whitko 56, Fremont 29.
Game 2: Prairie Heights (5-17) vs. Central Noble (21-2), 2/1 6 p.m.
Central Noble and Whitko are on a collision course here. Central Noble 59, Prairie Heights 30.
Game 3: Westview (11-9) vs. Bremen (14-8), 2/1 7:30 p.m.
*flips coin* Bremen 45, Westview 38.
Semi 1: Whitko vs. LaVille (9-12), 2/3 6p.m.
Collision course. Whitko 53, LaVille 37.
Semi 2: Central Noble vs. Bremen, 2/3 7:30 p.m.
Collision…wait for it…course. Central Noble 60, Bremen 40.
Championship: Whitko vs. Central Noble, 2/4 7 p.m.
Wildcats won the first meeting, this will not be an easy win but I’m still going with Whitko. This team is on a mission. Whitko 54, Central Noble 43.
Game 1: South Central (10-11) vs. South Bend Career Academy (1-12), 1/31 6:30 p.m.
SBCA is not ready for a sectional win quite yet. South Central 65, SBCA 22.
Game 2: North Miami (11-10) vs. Culver (1-20), 2/1 6:30 p.m.
The Warriors are a dangerous team. The future is bright for them, but they could still make some noise this season. North Miami 56, Culver 28.
Game 3: Argos (18-2) vs. Triton (8-13), 2/1 8 p.m.
Tough draw for the Trojans. Could be tight, but I like Argos. Argos 49, Triton 39.
Semi 1: South Central vs. LaCrosse (13-9), 2/3 6:30 p.m.
I’ll take the rested LaCrosse team here. LaCrosse 35, South Central 32.
Semi 2: North Miami vs. Argos, 2/3 8 p.m.
The time is coming for North Miami, that time is not now. Argos 58, North Miami 42.
Championship: LaCrosse vs. Argos, 2/4 7:30 p.m.
Dragons claim their third sectional title in school history with ease. Argos 63, LaCrosse 38.
Game 1: Lakeland Christian (11-10) vs. Bethany Christian (11-9), 1/31 6 p.m.
LCA is so very close to breaking through. I’ll take the risk. Hope Fancil is a scoring machine. LCA 46, Bethany 40.
Game 2: Elkhart Christian (4-14) vs. Hamilton (8-13), 1/31 7:30 p.m.
Hamilton is a very popular musical right now, Elkhart Christian is not. Hamilton 38, ECA 25.
Semi 1: Lakewood Park Christian (6-13) vs. LCA, 2/3 6p.m.
I might as well keep riding my Cinderella story. LCA 49, LPC 39.
Semi 2: Blackhawk (10-12) vs. Hamilton, 2/3 7:30 p.m.
Blackhawk wins at home. This team is tough. Blackhawk 56, Hamilton 35.
Championship: LCA vs. Blackhawk, 2/4 7:30 p.m.
It could be a long shot for LCA to get here, either way I expect it to be the Cougars or Bethany taking on Blackhawk for the title. It’s tough win these games on the road. Blackhawk 39, LCA 32.