By GREG KEIM firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — GOSHEN — Tis the season for high school boys basketball holiday tournaments and one of the first local ones is slated for Saturday at Bethany Christian.
Action begins at 10 a.m. with Elkhart Christian Academy (3-1) facing South Bend Trinity (2-3) followed by Lakeland Christian (0-4) and the host Bruins (2-4) around 11:30.
The consolation game is slated to begin around 4 p.m. and the championship at approximately 7:30.
The ECA Eagles are the defending champion after defeating Bethany 69-37 in last year’s finale.
Bethany was a 71-43 winner over Lakeland Christian on Dec. 3 at Bethany.
“Facing an opponent we have already seen brings a sense of familiarity and one of challenge in which team can make the better adjustments,” Bethany coach Jim Buller said. “They have a nice guard who helped keep the game close for a while.”
Connor Blum scored 27 points for Lakeland Christian.
The Bruins led 11-10 at the end of the first period before outscoring the Cougars 28-8 in the second.
Senior Abe Thorne and sophomore Ian Bomberger both netted 16 points, junior Sol Brenneman 15 and junior Tristan Clark 10 to lead Bethany.
Two of the ECA Eagles’ wins are over Class 4A schools in Elkhart Memorial (63-40) and Mishawaka (62-47).
“Elkhart Christian is a very veteran team that handily won this tourney last season,” Buller said. “They are a strong, physical team that has good shooters and plays good defense. The Eagles have a lot of attributes most coaches wish their team did.”
Leading scorers for the Eagles are Ryan Kupferschmid 21.0 points per game, Cory Waycaster 19.0 and Kenny Bearss 13.3.
Waycaster had the unique experience of playing against Bethany twice last season for two different teams. He transferred to Jimtown at the end of the first semester a year ago.
“He beat us when he played for ECA and then again when he was at Jimtown,” Buller said.
The NLC season kicks off Friday night with Concord (1-1) squaring off with Elkhart Memorial (1-2) at North Side Gym, Plymouth (3-2) at NorthWood (4-0) and Wawasee (1-5) at Warsaw (3-2).
Leading scorers for Concord are junior Filip Serwatka 16.0 and senior Ramon Johnson 14.0. Sophomore A.J. Gray is averaging 12.7 to lead Memorial.
NorthWood is paced in scoring by its trio of 6-5 seniors — Zach Zurcher 16.3, Jonathan Wilkinson 15.3 and Will Stueve 12.7. Among the leaders for Plymouth is 6-9 senior Mac Mercer who has committed to Bellmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
There also is action in the NECC Friday as the Fairfield Falcons (2-1, 1-1 NECC) travel to Hamilton (4-2, 1-0) and the Westview Warriors (2-2, 1-0) at Angola (3-1, 1-0).
Junior Joe Line at 21.0 ppg and senior John Stack 11.7 are the leading scores for Fairfield.
Senior Jordyn Bontrager 21,0 ppg and junior Chandler Aspy 17.0 top the Warriors in scoring.
Junior Alex Clark is averaging 1.48 ppg for Wawasee.