Both teams can use Friday night’s rematch to measure their progress since the start of the season. Lafayette Jeff recently rejuvenated its dormant offense, while Harrison continues to deliver solid defensive performances.
“It’s a huge game — a county rivalry, and a revenge game for us,” Jeff coach Scott Radeker said. “I also think it’s an awesome benchmark to see how far we’ve come. They beat us the second game of the year, and here we are at Game 14. I guess we’ll see how much we’ve improved.”
The Bronchos are encouraging fans to wear red for a “red out” tonight. Harrison coach Mark Rinehart said he was less concerned with the rivalry implications and more about playing an improved team.
Tyler Buchanan and Quarin Hood scored 18 points apiece and combined to make 9 of 17 3-pointers against Harrison in November.
“You’re going to have five guys out there who can shoot the ball from the perimeter, so you’d better be able to guard, or you’ll get into a situation where they’re hitting shots or getting to the rim and getting fouled, and then you’re in big, big trouble,” Rinehart said.
Rinehart said one defensive key is senior guard Bobby Rogers, whose consistent play has been crucial to the Raiders’ 6-5 start.
“Last year, he had a lot of struggles with getting lost and gambling and going for steals,” Rinehart said. “Does great a job for us, making sure we stay under control.”
Harrison can put five players on the floor who stand between 6-foot-3 and 6-8. Raiders senior forward Jacob Bower scored 17 against Jeff in the early meeting.
Radeker said his smaller team’s recent experience with teams like Kokomo, Valparaiso and Zionsville prepare it for that challenge.
“We’re much better defending the post than we were 12 games ago,” Radeker said. “We’ve got three guys who can rotate in guarding the post. Our kids have worked hard on keeping people off the block and not letting them get position.”
No nights off
Brownsburg brings a somewhat deceiving 3-8 record into tonight’s game against McCutcheon. Four of those losses came against Class 4A No. 2 Pike, No. 3 Carmel, No. 4 Hamilton Southeastern and No. 10 Ben Davis.
“I’m not sure if we had played the same teams that our record would be a whole lot different, to be honest with you,” Mavericks coach Rick Peckinpaugh said.
McCutcheon has not won a Hoosier Crossroads Conference road game outside of Tippecanoe County since a 59-48 victory at Westfield on Feb. 14, 2009. Four of the Mavericks’ losses this season came by a combined 11 points.
“We’ve been there, but being there is just not good enough any more,” Peckinpaugh said. “We’ve got to take the next step.”
On the mend
West Lafayette played last weekend without freshman point guard Nai Carlisle, and played Saturday without senior guard Caleb Shinn, both due to ankle injuries. Red Devils coach Dave Wood said both will be back Friday night against Twin Lakes.
West Lafayette still won twice with increased contributions from William Mbongo, Brody Forbes, Christian Gatmaitan and Jay Chapman.
“Every coach wants to know that he’s got guys on the bench who can come in and perform well,” Wood said. “I thought they all performed really well when we were down a couple of guys.”
Both stars can help West Side contend with Indians junior Cameron Bennington, a three-year varsity player who leads Twin Lakes in scoring (16.0), 3-point shooting (35.1), assists (3.4) and steals (1.9).
“It’s one of our concerns every week,” Twin Lakes coach Kent Adams said. “Technique and position are more important than jumping ability in our case, or height.”
Frankfort’s Case Arena hasn’t been kind to Central Catholic in recent seasons. Including Class A Regional games, the Knights have lost four straight in the historic gym, and they haven’t won a regular-season game there since 2007.
When CC and the Hot Dogs meet at Case on Saturday, Knights coach Dave Barrett can use a variety of bodies — including Andrew Hubertz, Gage Ulery, Matt Thieme, Hayes Cronk and Ryan Deboy — to contend with the Hot Dogs’ 6-foot-7 senior center, Dakota Isgrigg.
“He’s just a load,” Barrett said. “We’ve got plenty of guys to throw at him, but can we slow him down? I don’t know.”
Barrett also said Christian Smith has traditionally hurt the Knights. But one of Frankfort’s most consistent players in recent weeks has been junior guard Brody Kirby. From Dec. 7 to last Friday, Kirby averaged 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and shot 38.5 percent from 3-point range.
“He’s done a tremendous job of what I call being a more complete basketball player this year, from start to finish,” Frankfort coach Tom Weeks said. “His defense is where it needs to be right now, he’s taking good shots right now, and he’s distributing the ball well.”
That raised the Oracles’ season 3-point shooting percentage to 43.3 percent.
“That’s something we thought would be a strength for our team, but it’s been magnified this year because our kids are really driving to the basket, looking to make the extra pass,” Delphi coach Michael Lewis said.