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Conference clashes top weekend schedule

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

Contenders in the race for conference championships are starting to emerge in high school boys’ basketball while the front runners in the girls’ races can move ever closer to titles during this weekend’s slate of area games.

In fact, the Class 2A second-ranked Oak Hill girls can lay claim to a share of its third straight Central Indiana Conference title with a win Saturday at Eastbrook. 

There is still much basketball to be played before the boys conference races will be settled but each game in January will be key if any of Grant County’s teams are going to be contenders during the stretch run of February.

Following is a brief look at today and Saturday’s matchups that all feature conference battles in boys’ and girls’ high school hoops. 

Today

Indianapolis Tech (3-7, 2-2 in North Central Conference) at Marion (5-4, 1-1), 7:30 p.m.

Tech struggled to be competitive through the first month of the season and lost its first six games. But through blowout losses to Class 4A No. 1 Warren Central, 4A No. 4 Indianapolis Cathedral, along with NCC setbacks to Anderson (66-61 in OT, Dec. 7) and Richmond (78-57, Dec. 14), the Titans appear to have grown and improved. Tech put together a three-game win streak that included wins at McCutcheon (66-57, Dec. 29) and against Harrison (67-53, Jan. 4) before dropping a 59-55 decision Tuesday to Fishers (10-4).

Only 6-foot-3 junior Evan Turner (12.1 points) averages double figures for the Titans, but senior Montel Gardner (7.8 ppg) along with juniors Cameron Slash (6.3), Mason Moore (6.3), Terrell Adetunji (5.9) and Alonzo Watson (4.2) have provided double-digit scoring games during the season.

The Giants are hopeful of returning to full strength sometime in January as JK Thomas and Dre Aguilar are rehabbing to get on the court as quickly as possible. But a win over Tech will be essential for Marion to keep pace in the NCC race.

Both 4A No. 11 Logansport (10-1) and Richmond (7-7) are off to 3-0 starts in the NCC, while Muncie Central (4-7, 2-1 in NCC), the Giants and Anderson (5-6, 1-1) have endured a single conference loss.

The Giants are riding a three-game win streak into a stretch of three straight games against NCC foes and travel Tuesday to Anderson and Jan. 18 to Lafayette Jeff.

Jalen Blackmon has carried the load offensively for the Giants and is averaging 29.8 points per game.

Madison-Grant (6-5, 2-1 in CIC) at Frankton (10-3, 2-0), 7:30 p.m.

Frankton is never an easy place to play and its an even more difficult place for teams to win, but winning today is something the Argylls must do to keep pace in the CIC.

The Class 2A No. 13 Eagles are riding a wave of momentum after winning the school’s first-ever Madison County tournament Jan. 5 and have won four straight and eight of their last nine. Frankton is bolstered by a strong senior core who all had a hand in the school’s 2017 2A state championship.

Senior Kayden Key leads Frankton at nearly 18 points per game while his classmate Rylan Detling, a 6-7 post player, is scoring nearly 14. Seniors Brayton Cain and JJ Hatzell are both scoring more than eight points per game for the Eagles.

The Argylls have also built some momentum with recent wins over Blackford and Northfield and have won four of five entering today. 

Sophomore Kaden Howell (15 ppg) leads M-G in scoring but the Argylls have found balance on offense with seniors Isaac Cooper (11.8), Wyatt Rudy (10.9) along with sophomores Grant Brown (10.8) and Jackson Manwell (7.7) sharing the scoring load.  

Mississinewa (7-4, 2-0 in CIC) at Blackford (7-2, 1-2), 7:30 p.m.

The Indians had their seven-game win streak snapped Wednesday at Bellmont but will be focused on keeping their unblemished CIC mark intact today.

For Ole Miss to get a win, containing Blackford sophomore Luke Brown will be essential.

Brown is averaging 38 points per game and has been held under 30 just once this season - he scored 29 in Blackford’s loss to Alexandria. Over his past four games, Brown is averaging 40 and has topped the 40-point mark three times, including a 55-point outburst against Elwood on Dec. 14. Junior Brandon Stroble contributes 15.1 ppg for the Bruins.

The Indians have used balance on offense to find success this season with sophomores Tai McClung (15.6 ppg, 7.5 rebounds) and Landen Swanner (13 ppg) leading the way. Junior Anthony Horton is also averaging more than 10 points and nearly five assists per game. Swanner is hitting 52 percent (32-of-61) from 3-point range. Senior Heisman Skeens and sophomore Colin Yoder score nearly seven points per game for Ole Miss. 

Eastbrook (2-7, 1-2 in CIC) at Oak Hill (4-7, 0-2), 7:45 p.m.

The Golden Eagles started their current three-game win streak Dec. 22 with a 52-44 win over the Panthers in the consolation game of the Grant Four. Tuesday, Oak Hill overcame a 20-point, third quarter deficit to knock off Southwood, 57-55 in overtime.

Senior Konnor Cabe leads Oak Hill at 13 points per game while junior Tahj Johnson is scoring nearly 10. Seniors Landry Ozmun (6.7 pgg) and Bradey Evans (5.7 ppg) help bolster the Eagles’ offense while sophomore Tristen Hayes leads Oak Hill in rebounding at 5.1. Hayes contributed 12 points in Oak Hill’s win over Southwood.

Eastbrook won its last time out 58-43 over Cowan on Saturday in a game that saw four Panthers score in double figures and account for all the team’s points.

Junior Dylan Bragg tops the Panthers at 16.1 ppg while senior Garrett Holder chips in 10.3 points. Juniors Bryce Schamber and Alex Baker are both scoring nearly eight points per night while averaging six and five rebounds per game, respectively. 

Eastbrook plays at 7:45 p.m. Saturday at Northfield, the only county boys’ team to play twice this weekend.

Saturday

Girls basketball

Logansport (8-10, 3-3 in NCC) at Marion (14-4, 6-1 in NCC)

With Marion’s 66-46 win Thursday at Muncie Central, the Giants are on track to play for at least a share of the NCC title Jan. 18 at Lafayette Jeff.

First, the Giants must handle their business against Logansport, while Jeff (10-6, 6-0) also has a big game at noon Saturday at Anderson (8-9. 4-2). All other NCC teams have at least two losses in the conference.  

Oak Hill (15-3, 5-0 in CIC) at Eastbrook (9-8, 2-2), 7:30 p.m.

It’s simple for the Class 2A No. 2 Golden Eagles: win over Eastbrook and Jan. 19 at Alexandria the CIC championship is theirs outright. 

Mississinewa (10-7, 2-1 in CIC) at Blackford (1-16, 0-4), 12:30 p.m.

The Indians are one of two teams in the CIC with just one loss (Frankton is the other) and both fell at the hands of Oak Hill. Ole Miss and Frankton need much help to have a chance to win the CIC.

Frankton (8-9. 2-1 in CIC) at Madison-Grant (3-14, 2-2), 12:30 p.m.

Frankton needs a win at M-G to keep its slim CIC title hopes alive.