Usually when a team goes through the postseason undefeated, it means they’ve won a championship. But 2020 has been nothing but usual, especially since the second week of March.
Both the Northridge and NorthWood boys basketball teams won sectional titles last year — Northridge in Class 4A, Sectional 4, and NorthWood Class 3A, Sectional 19. Before they could even play in regional semifinals, though, their seasons were ended when the shutdown caused by COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States.
While the pandemic is still ravaging the country, basketball season is hoping to play its season. That means Northridge and NorthWood will have chances to defend their sectional crowns, albeit in front of way smaller crowds than they won those titles in front of in March.
For Northridge, they return most of their key players from last year’s team that went 21-5 and 7-0 in the Northern Lakes Conference. Last season’s leading scorer, senior guard Sam Smith, is back for his final year. Smith averaged 17 points-per-game and shot 44 percent from 3-point range.
The Raiders have become one of the most prolific three-point shooting teams in the area, knocking down 43 percent from long distance last season. Senior guard Carter Stoltzfus shot 45 percent from ‘3’ last season and is expected to be one of the leaders for Northridge this season.
Other key players returning are seniors Trevor Brown and Clay Stoltzfus.
“We have experienced guard play back from last season,” Northridge coach Scott Radeker said. “These guys are great leaders who have been working hard to give themselves a chance to close out their careers strong. We have a lot of three-point shooting back and all of our players have bought into playing for something bigger than themselves. Very excited to see how this team progresses.”
NorthWood loses more of its key players than Northridge, but should still figure to be in contention for the NLC crown this year. While the likes of Trent Edwards (15 points-per-game) and Jason Borkholder (5 rebounds-per-game) have graduated, a lot of players from the 17-6 team last year are back.
The leading returning scorer for the Panthers is senior Ben Vincent, who averaged close to nine points-per-game a season ago. Junior Jamarr Jackson also returns and is expected to be a presence at the forward position for NorthWood. He averaged 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds a game as a sophomore last season.
“We are excited about the season and have a lot of players in new roles,” NorthWood coach Aaron Wolfe said. “A successful season is playing as many games as possible. We are inexperienced and looking forward to watching our improvement throughout the season.”
NEW LOOK WESTVIEW
One of the more consistent programs in northern Indiana, Westview, underwent a lot of changes this offseason.
One change was expected: the graduation of Charlie Yoder, who leaves in the top 25 in state history in terms of career points scored. The other change was a surprise, as Charlie’s father, coach Rob Yoder, stepped away from the role.
Westview now has a new coach in Ed Bentley. He spent the last six seasons at Angola, leading the Hornets to a 120-67 record. And while the Warriors lose its best player in Charlie Yoder, Bentley is excited for the experienced players that are returning. Westview has seven returning letterwinners on its 2020-21 roster.
“We have a tremendous group of experienced returners, guys that have played significant minutes in high profile games at Westview,” Bentley said. “We will lean on our seniors to lead this year’s group. The key for this group will be how well do we want to defend and how well we screen and share the ball. If the young men figure out that we are more successful depending on each other, using each other, and supporting each other, then this group can just add to the rich history here at Westview.”
BETHANY CHRISTIAN BRUINS
Head Coach: Daniel Mast; 2nd season (6-17 overall)
Assistant Coaches: John Mast
Last season’s record: 6-17
Returning letterwinners: Seniors: Ethan Boyer, Mason Closson, Aaron Yeakey; Juniors: Beck Willems, Evan Brown
Other varsity players: Seniors: Braden Bohn, Tony Moser; Junior: Ben Keyes; Freshman: Tyson Chupp
Coach’s comments on the upcoming season: “This year’s team brings a lot of energy and passion for the game of basketball. Beck Willems has been the leading scorer for us the last two years and is joined by quality seniors that bring good leadership. The new varsity players this year provide a lot of flexibility with our lineups, and freshman Tyson Chupp will see a lot of minutes handling the ball for us. Our ceiling will be determined by how well we are able to finish plays on the defensive side of the ball.”
Head Coach: Derrick DeShone; 3rd season (8-36 overall)
Assistant Coaches: Ron Dietz, Blake Sandberg, Jeff Petty, Tim Osborne
Last season’s record: 1-20 (0-7 NLC)
Returning letterwinners: Seniors: Gavin Smith, Griffin Swartout, Payton Fish; Juniors: Jack D’Arcy, Andres Dixon, Amarion Moore, Zaven Koltookian
Other varsity players: Senior: Jaxon Williams; Juniors: Thomas Burkert, Ethan Kavanagh, Anthony Trudell, Thomas Wurtsbaugh; Freshman: Jaylan Bolen
Coach’s comments on the upcoming season: “We have a lot of varsity experience back this season. As you can see from the roster, we played a lot of sophomores last year and juniors with no varsity experience. I'm extremely happy with the offseason this group put in. They played a lot of basketball and worked on their games. I feel horrible for our football/basketball players who didn't get the chance to finish their football season the right way, but we are ready to get out on the court and compete each and every day. I'm excited to see this group grow from day one until the tournament.”
Head Coach: Randy DeShone; 2nd season (9-14 at school; 271-240 overall)
Assistant Coaches: Rich Toth, Bruce Zimmerman, Steve Hall, Mike Knepper
Last season’s record: 9-15 (6-5 NECC)
Returning letterwinners: Seniors: Holden Blosser, Dalton Cripe; Juniors: Case Murray, Owen Miller, Braedon Helms, Braylon Chupp; Sophomores: Carter Nicolai, Lincoln Penrose
Other varsity players: Juniors: Noah Hochstetler, Kyle Hopkins, Andres Revoir, Garrett Dunlap
Coach’s comments on the upcoming season: “We lost six seniors from last year's team: Nolin Sharick, Riley Behles, Justin Bontrager, Cade Gall and Bryce Willard. Nolin led the team in almost every stat last year. We will miss our seniors. With the unique summer and limit practice time during the summer, we are still figuring out positions and personnel. All players are working hard.”
Head Coach: Michael Wohlford; 5th season (45-50 overall)
Assistant Coaches: Kris Davis, Jeremy McLaughlin, Tyler Miller, Alex Hartsough
Last season’s record: 11-12 (2-5 NLC)
Returning letterwinners: Senior: Blak Wiess; Junior: Drew Hogan; Sophomores: Quinn Bechtel, Deecon Hill
Other varsity players: Senior: Isaac Sawatzky; Juniors: Jordan Williams, Brandon Rivera, Zach Subera; Sophomores: Noah Alford, Yabi Kurtz, Lleyton Weddell
Coach’s comments on the upcoming season: “We have quite a bit of back court experience returning from last year. We are a ‘young’ team, but not necessarily in experience. Drew and Quinn played a bulk of the guard minutes a season ago, and hopefully they can hit the ground running while our less-experienced players cut their teeth. We like our depth, and chances are we will need it this season. The biggest question mark for us is cleaning up the defensive boards. Can we rebound and finish defensive possessions only allowing one shot? That was a major flaw of ours last year. We will continue to run our offense through our guards while developing inside scoring. We have a good energy about our program, and we are just really excited to play some basketball.”
Head Coach: Chris Kiel; 1st season
Assistant Coaches: John VanderRoest, Britain Isaacs
Last season’s record: 7-16 (3-8 NECC)
Returning letterwinners: Brayden Bontrager, Bracey Shepard, Ben Keil, Carson Aldrich, Mason Douglas, Clinton Bowers, Colton Isaacs, Tommy Curtis
Other varsity players: Zeke Wachtman, Deion Marshall, Owen Troyer, Christian Troyer
Coach’s comments on the upcoming season: “This year’s team has the potential to be a real sleeper in the NECC. The Lakers have plenty of scoring, but if they commit to incredible team defense and limit turnovers, they could be one of the better teams in the area.”
Head Coach: Scott Radeker; 3rd season (40-14 at school; 257-182 overall)
Assistant Coaches: Jon Sparks, Sam Miller, Austin Miller, David Plaster, Jeremy Mahan
Last season’s record: 21-5; NLC and sectional champions
Returning letterwinners: Carter Stoltzfus, Sam Smith, Trevor Brown, Blake Jacobs
Other varsity players: Micah Hochstetler, Brandon Miller, Carter Bach, Jesse Ryman, Noah Zmuda, Malachi Campbell
Head Coach: Aaron Wolfe; 14th season (212-96 overall)
Assistant Coaches: Phil Lechlitner, AJ Risedorph, Zac Lechlitner, Sam Sheets, Jakyah Qaiyim, Spencer Culp
Last season’s record: 18-6, sectional champions
Returning letterwinners: Ben Vincent, Ian Raasch, Cade Brenner, Cooper Weins, Jamarr Jackson, Brock Bontrager, Caden Graham, Chaz Yoder, Caleb Schwartz, JJ Payne, Ethan Evers, Neez Smith
Other varsity players: Jerry Hodges, Ethan Wolfe, NiTareon Tuggle
Head Coach: Jon Everingham; 5th season (32-62 at school, 125-149 overall)
Assistant Coaches: Nate O’Connell, Chad Hoffert, Andrew Wilson, Scott Hetrick
Last season’s record: 14-9
Returning letterwinners: Seniors: Kameron Salazar, Ethan Carey, Adam Beer; Juniors: Jack Stover, Keaton Dukes, Mason Possell, Caden Welty, Gavin Hunziker; Sophomore: Collin Roberson
Other varsity players: Junior: Grant Brooks
Coach’s comments on the upcoming season: “The Wawasee boys basketball program continues a program culture that is built upon hard work, toughness and abelief that we can win. The 2020-21 team will be no different in terms of continuing to build upon two-straight sectionalfinals appearances and a 14-win season last year. We lose two major varsity contributors to graduation in Austin Millerand Ethan Hardy, but bring back returning players that have basketball skills, experience, size and athleticism. We willhave to be patient with the development of this year’s team but we believe we will be in the mix when the IHSAAtournament comes at the end of the season.”
WEST NOBLE CHARGERS
Head Coach: Ethan Marsh; 2nd season (8-15 at school; 31-40 overall)
Assistant Coaches: Gary Goshert, Tyler Schuller, Tyler Wolfe
Last season’s record: 8-15 (4-7 NECC)
Returning letterwinners: Senior: Brockton Miller; Sophomore: Austin Cripe
Other varsity players: Juniors: Joshua Rosales, Adam Nelson; Sophomores: Zach Beers, Ayden Zavala
Coach’s comments on the upcoming season: “We are extremely proud of our guys and how they have handled themselves since the end of last season. They have been working on their own and committing to our workouts. We will be a young group overall with only two returning contributors from last season. We have pretty high expectations for this backcourt (Miller, Cripe, Rosales). They have really taken on leadership roles and push each other every day. Hopefully, the world settles down and we can have a full season. These young men (and many others all over the state) deserve it.”
Head Coach: Ed Bentley, 1st season (120-67 overall)
Assistant Coaches: John Jantzi, Kenton Weaver, Caleb Logan
Last season’s record: 21-4, NECC co-champions
Returning letterwinners: Seniors: Drew Litwiller, Luke Miller, Lyndon Miller, Ben Byrkett, Caleb Cory; Junior: Mason Yoder; Sophomore: Brady Yoder
Other varsity players: Seniors: Jordan Schrock, Drew Miller; Junior: Brandon Lehman