GOSHEN — Year in and year out, one of the most anticipated contests on the local high school boys basketball scene is the one featuring the Fairfield Falcons and the Westview Warriors.
“Both communities get behind their teams,” Westview coach Rob Yoder said. “It’s a game that is fun for the kids and for the communities.”
“The schools are similar and so are the communities,” Fairfield coach Troy Beachy said. “It seems like most years this one goes a long way in determining the conference champion.”
Fairfield (7-4, 3-1 NECC) hosts Westview (6-3, 3-0) Friday night despite the fact the two just squared off in last week’s conference tournament.
The Warriors were a 71-55 winner as Chandler Aspy tossed in 24 points, Judah Zickafoose 16, Jamar Weaver 12 and Jordyn Bontrager 11.
“Westview probably has an advantage since they won the first game,” Beachy said. “I’m just glad the game is at our place. We have got to rebound better and be more physical. We need to do a better job on defense of containing Bontrager and Aspy and also Zickafoose on the inside.”
In the first game, Bontrager also had eight rebounds, five assists a steal and two blocked shots.
“Bontrager has the ball in his hands a lot,” Beachy said. “He is one of the best point guards in the area. He gets Westview into what they need to do. He is tough to guard, because he can shoot from outside if you leave him open or drive to the basket if he is pressed.”
Bontrager sprained an ankle in the first period of the NECC championship game against West Noble that the Warriors lost 61-40.
“He is getting better each day, but I’m not sure yet where he will be by Friday” Yoder said.
Aspy is another player that concerns Beachy.
“He has gotten a lot stronger,” the coach said. “He beat us up on the inside last time. We need to do a better job on him and limit his opportunities for second-chance points.”
Leading scorers for the Falcons were Brock Goeglein 12 points, Line 10, Josh Stephen nine and John Stack seven.
“Playing a second time makes it easier for scouting,” Yoder said. “Fairfield is a good shooting team from the perimeter and they usually shoot better at home. We have to be ready to handle their screens. We have multiple scorers to cover and if that isn’t enough Joe Line is an excellent at penetrating to the basket.
“We expect to see some zone defense from them. We have to execute and get good shots against whatever type of defense they use.”
First place in the NLC will be at stake on Saturday when the Northridge Raiders (10-2, 3-0 NLC) entertain the Elkhart Memorial Crimson Chargers (6-6, 3-0).
Northridge’s two losses this season are both to the Penn Kingsmen. The second one was by a 78-66 score last Tuesday. Nate Ritchie netted 25 points, Pete Smith 12, Sam Ahonen and Kurtis Hochstetler both eight for the Raiders.
Dimitri Giger is averaging 15.6 points per game for the Chargers.
“We have to quickly put the Penn loss behind us,” Northridge coach Ronnie Thomas said. “This is not only a game that is important in the NLC, Memorial is also a potential sectional opponent. We have to be ready for a fight.
“Giger is leading the team in scoring, but the Chargers have other scoring options.”
Also on the NLC slate, the Concord Minutemen (7-3, 2-1 NLC) host the Warsaw Tigers (9-4, 2-1) on Friday.
Concord is coming off a 44-42 win over Elkhart Central on a last-second shot by Ramon Johnson who finished with a game-high 24 points. Filip Serwatka chipped in with 17.
The Tigers topped Central 71-37.
“Warsaw beat up on Central pretty good,” Concord coach Steve Austin said. “Warsaw is shooting well, rebounding strong and of course they are well disciplined.
“We have got to take care of the ball and limit our turnovers. We need to handle their full-court press. It shouldn’t bother us, but it seemed to in last season’s sectional loss to the Tigers. But one of the most important things we have got to do is develop some other scorers. You are not going to win many games with two or three players scoring.”
Another NLC contest has the Wawasee Warriors (2-9, 0-3 NLC) at Plymouth (4-7, 0-3) on Friday.
The Warriors are coming off a 57-44 victory over Central last Saturday. Alex Clark tossed in 17 points, Gage Reinhard 11, Sam Clark and Chase Myers both nine to lead Wawasee.
There’s one game on the agenda for tonight as the Bethany Christian Bruins (3-7) entertain the Fort Wayne Canterbury Cavaliers (3-7).
The Bruins are led in scoring by Abe Thorne at 11.9 points per game and Sol Brenneman 10.9.
Due to the Christmas break and Bethany’s semester break the Bruins have only played two games since Dec. 21 and those were on Jan. 9 and 10.
“It’s time for us to get back in rhythm,” Bethany coach Jim Buller said. “We have to find our groove for the second half of the season.
“Canterbury is a team with a number of young and talented players. They have some nice guards plus a 6-6 post player so if you concentrate your defense on the guards they will dump the ball to him on the inside.
“Don’t let Canterbury’s record fool you. They have played a tough schedule. Three of their players are averaging in double figures with several other close. The are deeper than we are so our controlling the tempo is a big key. We wanted to try and keep the game in the mid-40s.”