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Here are five things that Fort Wayne-area prep basketball fans will learn this weekend:
Whether the head coach is Wayne Kreiger, Scott Kreiger or Scott Baio (Am I showing my age here?), it seems nothing can slow down the Class A North juggernaut that is the Canterbury girls' basketball program. The top-ranked Cavaliers will attempt to win its sixth consecutive regional crown on Saturday at Caston. Barring a major upset, the top two teams in Class A will collide in the regional final in Canterbury and No. 2 Oregon-Davis. That matchup could very well be the game to decide the state championship.
The talk all season has been how the Knights have had an un-Bishop Luers like season in terms of wins and losses. Yet, here we are examining the chances of a fourth-straight regional championship. Those chances are pretty good, despite the Knights being the only Class 2A team remaining with double-digit losses on the season. According to the Sagarin Ratings, Bishop Luers has played the 59th toughest schedule in the state, while regional semifinal opponent Westview has played the 275th toughest slate. Potential regional final opponents Whiting (377th toughest schedule) and Boone Grove (220th), and you have three teams that have not seen the caliber of teams the Knights have this season. Bet on Bishop Luers to bring home another regional crown.
Norwell and Concordia Lutheran may be on a collision course to meet up Saturday night in the regional final, a rematch from the Knights' 60-53 victory over the Cadets last November. Both squads have tough opponents in the semis however, with Concordia facing No. 3 NorthWood and Norwell taking on No. 2 Hamilton Heights. A lot of eyes will be on Norwell, a program that last won a regional championship in 1977. One thing is for sure, the team that emerges out of Bellmont will have earned it.
In terms of losses, there is only one other regional (Bedford, 8) with less total defeats amongst its field than at Kokomo, with South Side, Snider, Logansport and Westfield combining for nine losses all season. If Snider and South Side are each going to win its semifinal matchups and meet in the finals, it is going to have to win in similar. Westfield and Logansport each hold opponents below 40 points per game on average, which will lead to Snider and South Side having to value each possession offensively. In my opinion, the magic number for the Panthers and Archers is 60. If they score 60-plus points in the semifinal games, they will advance and play on Saturday night.
When are the Bulldogs going to stop flying under the radar? If Coach Al Gooden had his way, he would keep it that way for as long as possible, but it is hard to ignore New Haven's 10-game winning streak that includes victories over Norwell (12-5), Columbia City (16-3) and Homestead (15-4). At 15-3, Concordia Lutheran represents another huge challenge to the Bulldogs tonight. The Cadets are well-rested, having not played since a victory over Northrop on Feb. 1. New Haven has passed every test it has faced since a one-point loss to DeKalb in early January. It will attempt to keep that going against the Cadets.