Indiana’s Top High School Basketball Games of the Weekend by// Bryce Walts

In the latest AP Poll, a new number one team has emerged — the New Albany Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have finally reclaimed the top spot after being usurped by North Central after the Panthers manhandled New Albany 84-60 at Southport in December.  North Central still received two first place votes and Fort Wayne North received two as well.

*all rankings via AP poll (Jan.24) and stats via http://indianahsbasketball.homestead.com/boys.html and www.maxpreps.com

Friday, January 27

Ben Davis (10-5) at #3 4A Carmel (12-2)

Carmel’s only losses this season are to the two teams ranked above them in the AP poll, which indicates they deserve their spot as a top three team in Indiana. Ben Davis has lost three of their last five, including two to North Central. Carmel needs this win to stay in the race for the Metropolitan Conference Championship this season, which is arguably the toughest in the state of Indiana. The conference includes Carmel, Warren Central, North Central, Pike and other annual strong teams. This will be a battle of offense vs defense as Carmel has a top defense (33rd – 45.9 PPG), and Ben Davis has a top offense (30th- 69.3 PPG). Carmel’s strength is in their size, that includes D1 prospect 6’9 John Michael Mulloy.

#6 4A Warren Central (12-1) at #2 4A North Central (Indianapolis) (14-2)

North Central is beatable. After a 13-game winning streak to start the season that included wins over New Albany, Carmel, and… Warren Central on Jan. 13 in the semifinals of the Marion County Tournament. North Central would lose to Pike in the championship, and follow that up with another loss to Lawrence North. Warren Central will look to avenge their only loss of the season when they travel to North Central looking to stop the Panthers high-powered offense (7th – 76.1 PPG) headed by five star Kris Wilkes and versatile big man Emmanuel Little. The Warriors are the biggest surprise of this season, as by looking at their 10-12 record from last year, no one had them pegged as a top team in Indiana. Senior Mack Smith had a big 34 point night for Warren Central to keep his team with North Central on Jan. 13. He was the only double digit scorer for Warren Central that night, and will need more help from his teammates if Warren Central is to beat North Central.

Saturday, January 28

#11 4A Crown Point (13-2) at #6 4A Warren Central (12-1)

Warren Central turns around from a tough matchup at North Central to facing another top team in Crown Point. The Warriors figure to put a lot of effort into Friday night’s game against North Central, so this could be a trap game. The Bulldogs from Crown Point have lost two games by a combined margin of eight points. While they haven’t faced as tough as competition as Warren Central, this game could put them on the map as a contender for the state title. Crown Point has impressive size, as their big three composed of Sasha Stefanovic, Andrew Kenneally and Ken Decker combined for 51 points in their win against Chesterton. Crown Point has made it to two straight regional championships, and is looking to take the next step and make into semi state.

#5 3A Park Tudor (12-3) at #2 4A North Central (Indianapolis) (14-2)

Park Tudor travels to North Central Saturday looking to pull off an upset and score one for the 3A class. Park Tudor has been one of the perennial contenders for the 3A state title, winning four of the last six state championships. Park Tudor’s strength is their guards as Kobe Webster and Isiah Moore have both demonstrated an ability to take over games, especially Moore, as the sophomore dropped 41 points in December against Cloverdale. North Central will be looking to avoid this upset, after not losing to Park Tudor over the past four years. Guard Mateo Rivera will use his size to try and disrupt Park Tudor’s guards. North Central was held below 60 points for the first time in their loss to Lawrence North last week.

#18 4A Pendleton Heights (12-3) vs. #10 4A Pike (13-4)

Pendleton Heights is enjoying their new found home in the AP Poll, but will immediately be tested when they face the Pike Red Devils, who have proved that they are a top team with multiple impressive wins. The game will take place in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, kicking off a slate of games that concludes with McCutcheon taking on Danville. Neither team focuses on offense or defense exclusively so this could be a well-rounded and tight game. 6’4 senior Mark Albers (19.3 PPG) is the leading scorer for the Arabians that have four players averaging double figures in points per game. Senior Justin Williams scored 20 points in the upset victory over North Central, as he and fellow senior Isiah James (14.3 PPG) have been the main reasons Pike has had recent success. Junior forward Darian Porch had 19 points in Pike’s win over Zionsville on Tuesday.

#16 4A Zionsville (10-4) at #15 4A Homestead (11-3)

Zionsville was defeated by Pike 67-59 on Tuesday, and now the Eagles turn around and have to face two ten plus win teams this weekend in Brownsburg and Homestead. Zionsville has lost two of their last three, but those three were all against ranked 4A teams. Homestead has also lost two of their last three, but nearly gave Fort Wayne North their second loss of the season last week. Sophomore Isaiah Thompson (17.2 PPG) will look to lead his Eagles to a big weekend after faltering on Tuesday. No one other than senior Dominic Genco (20) and Thompson (25) scored more than four points for Zionsville in their loss Tuesday. Senior Jack Ferguson (19 PPG) has been the leader this year so far for the Spartans. Senior Brandon Durnell (16.4 PPG) is also a very important scorer for Homestead. Zionsville will need to win this one in order to stay in the AP poll next week.

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