By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The NorthWood Panthers, if the they wish to stay in the hunt for the NLC title, will be involved in an important league contest Friday at Warsaw.
NorthWood (11-2, 3-1 NLC) is currently tied with the Goshen Redskins (8-4, 3-1) for second place in the conference behind Concord (11-1, 4-0).
The Warsaw Tigers (8-6, 2-2) are paced in scoring by 6-0 senior Jared Bloom (17.4 ppg), 6-5 senior John Swanson (10.4) and 6-1 junior Jordan Stookey (9.8).
“Warsaw is very solid again this year,” NorthWood coach Aaron Wolfe said. “The Tigers have both interior and perimeter offense. Their rebounding and defense have been the phases of the game that are extremely consistent.
“Bloom is a very good player and is their leader as he has been on the varsity for three years.”
Wolfe was an assistant coach in the Warsaw program before taking the NorthWood job six years ago.
Leading scorers for the Panthers are 6-4 junior Zach Zurcher (18.3), 6-4 junior Jonathan Wilkinson (17.2), 6-2 senior Tommy Klem (8.0) and 5-9 junior Tanner Farmwald (6.9).
The Northridge Raiders (4-9, 1-3 NLC) host the Plymouth Pilgrims (11-2, 2-2) Friday. Northridge snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 51-43 win over Elkhart Memorial last Saturday.
“I would be lying if it didn’t feel like we got a bit of a monkey off our back by snapping that losing streak,” Northridge coach Ronnie Thomas said. “The kids felt great, they all contributed in some way and this will definitely give them some confidence going into this weekend.”
Six-nine junior Mack Mercer leads Plymouth in scoring at 20.9. Other top scorers are 5-10 senior Joe Knapp (13.7) and 6-0 senior David Lee (7.9).
“Mercer is a very good player, he can score from multiple spots on the floor which makes him such a prized recruit,” Thomas added. “What has impressed me the most about his game is his ability to put the ball down on the floor and drive it. For us to stop him, we can’t let him catch the ball deep and get driving angles on us from the perimeter, and try and contest his shots as best we can.
“This is a very talented team, even besides Mercer. They really pressure the ball for 80 feet and have some very athletic guards who can knock open shots down.”
Six-seven junior Nate Ritchie (19.1) leads the Raiders in scoring, followed by 6-1 junior Sam Ahonen (8.6), 5-9 sophomore Pete Smith (8.1) and 6-1 senior Joey Ganyard (5.62).
It’s a doubleheader weekend for Northridge as the Raiders visit Fairfield (8-7) on Saturday. The Falcons are paced in scoring by 6-2 senior Garrett Scott (10.7), 6-5 senior Brad Lantz (10.5), 6-2 junior Marcus Rodes (10.2) and 6-2 sophomore Joe Line (7.5).
“Fairfield has improved immensely since the beginning of the year and are getting better every game,” Thomas said. “They have shooters on the perimeter and some length to contest with on the defensive end. We’re going to have to defend the 3-point line and make sure we keep them out of the lane.”
About facing Northridge Falcon coach Troy Beachy said, “We are going to have be aware of where Ritchie is at all times. He is a tough matchup because he is effective inside and outside. Ahonen does a nice job running the point for Northridge, Smith is a great shooter plus Ganyard and (6-0 senior) Austin Moniot do well in their roles of scoring when needed and playing hard defensively.”
The Falcons have an NECC contest on Friday at West Noble (12-1. 6-0 NECC). leading the WN Chargers in scoring are 6-3 junior Drew Schermerhorn (14.2), 6-5 junior Keith Gibson (11.0), 6-7 senior Nick Noe (8.2) and 5-7 senior Nick Thomas (8.2).
“West Noble is having a good season,” Beachy said. “They pose so many challenges because they have big post players that can score inside and great shooters on the perimeter. We are going to have to play a complete game with great defensive energy and execution.”
In another NLC contest, the Concord Minutemen host the Wawasee Warriors (3-9, 0-4 NLC) on Friday. Concord is led in scoring by 6-6 senior Frank House (16.4), 6-5 sophomore Filip Serwatka (12.3), 6-2 junior Adam Glanders (8.1) and 6-3 senior DuWhan Alford (6.2). Leading Wawasee in scoring are 6-1 sophomore Alex Clark (14.6), 6-5 junior Chase Myers (7.3), 5-9 sophomore Gage Reinhard (6.7) and 6-0 freshman Jeffrey Moore (5.4).
Wawasee travels to Lakeland (4-10) on Saturday. Top scorers for Lakeland are 6-1 senior spencer Mortola (11.9), 6-3 junior Chandler Mynhier (7.5) and 5-11 senior Mitch Herber (6.36).
The Westview Warriors (13-1, 6-0 NECC) host the Eastside Blazers (5-8, 4-2) Friday. Six-four senior Kyle Miller (15.6), 6-3 sophomore Chandler Aspy (12.7), 5-10 junior Jordyn Bontrager (11.8) and 6-3 senior Nick Raber (8.6) are the leading scorers for Westview.
The Bethany Christian Bruins (3-9) return to action with a trip to Fort Wayne Blackhawk Friday. Bethany has been idle since a 61-54 loss to Bremen back on Jan. 7. Top point producers for the Bruins are 6-2 senior Caleb Morris (13.0), 6-0 sophomore Sol Brenneman (11.7), 6-3 junior Abe Thorne (7.7) and 5-11 senior Isaac Schertz (5.3).