By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Two important events could occur tonight at Concord High School when the Minutemen host the Northridge Raiders in boys basketball.
A victory by the Minutemen would wrap up an undefeated NLC campaign for Concord for the first time since the 2004-05 season. Concord would be the fourth different school to finish the NLC portion of their schedule unbeaten in the last five years. Elkhart Memorial did it a year ago, Warsaw in 2009-10 and Northridge in 2008-09.
The second thing is it would be career win No. 400 for Concord coach Steve Austin.
He has a record of 399-240 in 28 seasons that includes stops at South Bend St. Joseph, Richmond and Northridge before spending the last five at Concord (77-28).
Concord enters the contest with a 14-1 record while Northridge is 7-9 (3-3 NLC) for first-year coach Ronnie Thomas. The Raiders have won four straight.
“Northridge is playing better,” Austin said. “Ronnie (Thomas) is doing a good job. The Raiders are playing good man defense and are starting to get scoring from other players.”
Six-six junior Nate Ritchie leads Northridge in scoring at 18.3 points per game. Other leaders are 6-1 junior Sam Ahonen 9.1, 5-9 sophomore Pete Smith 8.4 and 6-1 senior Joey Ganyard 6.1.
“Both Ahonen and Smith have picked up their scoring as of late,” Austin said. “Ahonen seems to be a key for Northridge. When he is going well the Raiders seem to do well.
“We are going to try and stop all of their players from scoring. Defense has been one of our mainstays this season. If we had played defense in our one loss the way we have in other games we would be undefeated.
“On offense we need to get the ball inside, but we also need to take our shots when they are there. Games we have struggled in are ones where our shots were not falling from the outside.”
Leading scorers for Concord are 6-6 senior Franko House 16.3 ppg, 6-5 sophomore Filip Serwatka 12.7, 5-8 junior Ramon Johnson 8.8, 6-2 junior Adam Glanders 8.1 and 6-3 senior DuWhan Alford 6.1.
“Concord is athletically and physically the best team we’ve played all year, so that is going to be a huge challenge for us,” Thomas said. “They pose a lot of match up problems for people with their size and quickness.
“Our guys are going to have to be ready to step up and be ready for a crazy environment at Concord. A big key for us is our ability to keep our poise in an environment like Concord and make sure we are getting stops on defense and be able to knock down our shots when we get them.”
Northridge faces another team have a good season on Saturday afternoon when they travel to West Noble (14-2).
The Chargers are led in scoring by 6-3 junior Drew Schermerhorn 14.3 ppg, 6-5 junior Keith Gibson 10.8, 5-7 senior Nick Thomas 9.4 and 6-7 senior Nick Noe 8.2.
“West Noble is playing very good basketball right now,” Thomas said.
“They are a huge team with guards on the perimeter that can really fill it up from 3-point range. We’re going to have to play our game and contest as many shots as possible while containing their drivers and keeping their size off the backboard. I believe another big key to this game is the time difference. Playing in the afternoon it may have a bit more of an AAU feel, but we have to be ready to play as if it’s a Friday night NLC game.”
Due to girls basketball sectionals this week boys games are being played tonight and Saturday afternoon.
In another NLC contest tonight, the NorthWood Panthers (11-5, 3-3 NLC) travel to North Side Gym in Elkhart to take on the Memorial Crimson Chargers (7-9, 3-3).
Top scorers for NorthWood are 6-5 junior Zach Zurcher 18.3 ppg, 6-5 junior Jonathan Wilkinson 15.6, 6-2 senior Tommy Klem 8.7, 5-7 junior Kyle McCoy 6.5 and 5-9 junior Tanner Farmwald 6.3.
Six-two senior Markese McGuire leads Memorial and Elkhart County in scoring at 22.1 ppg. Others are 5-11 senior James Hershberger 8.5 and 6-3 sophomore Dimitri Giger 7.1.
“McGuire seems like he has played more conference games than I have coached, which makes him very experienced and skilled,” Wolfe said.
“He puts so much pressure on your defense because he can do so many things on offense. Memorial is a team that is playing as well as anyone we have played thus far.
“Memorial is a quality team, but our focus needs to be on us improving as a basketball team. We will need to rebound as they have a good rebounding team and make sure we can challenge shots.”
The Fairfield Falcons (8-9, 4-2 NECC) have a league doubleheader with a home date against Fremont (9-6, 4-3) tonight and a road trip to Angola (6-9, 2-4) on Saturday.
Fairfield is paced in scoring by 6-2 senior Garrett Scott 10.9 ppg, 6-2 junior Marcus Rodes 10.1, 6-5 senior Brad Lantz and 6-2 sophomore Joe Line 7.9.
Six-two senior Tyler Jenkins of Fremont is the leading scorer in the NECC at 29.5 ppg. He is the program’s all-time leading scorer.
“Fremont likes to get out in transition and play a fast-tempo game,” Fairfield coach Troy Beachy said. “Jenkins was out for five games. The Eagles have only lost one game when he has been in the lineup.
“We will need to make sure we get back on defense, control the tempo of the game, and try to limit Jenkins’ free throw attempts.
“Angola plays extremely hard and they are a very physical team. They have a great scorer as well in (6-1 senior) Simon Brown. We will have to be mentally ready to go, as it is a Saturday afternoon road game, which is a little out of the ordinary.
“These are both big conference games for us as we fight to stay near the top of the NECC.”
The Westview Warriors (15-1, 8-0 NECC) host the Prairie Heights Panthers (9-9, 4-3) tonight.
Six-four senior Kyle Miller leads the Warriors in scoring at 15.9 ppg, followed by 6-3 sophomore Chandler Aspy 12.6, 5-10 junior Jordyn Bontrager 11.8 and 6-3 senior Nic Raber 8.8.
Bethany Christian (3-12) entertains Lakewood Park (10-5) tonight. The BC Bruins are led in scoring by 6-2 senior Caleb Morris 12.9 ppg, 6-0 sophomore Sol Brenneman 12.0, 6-3 junior Abe Thorne 8.5 and 5-11 senior Isaac Schertz 5.5.