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County teams eye competitive Classic

Stranger things than Western Boone failing to win the girls Sugar Creek Classic basketball tournament have happened in high school sports in the COVID-19 stricken year of 2020.

The Stars have won 12 of the 13 tourneys, including the last 11 in a row. Crawfordsville is the only other winner, defeating North Montgomery in the championship back in the 2008-09 season.

Now might be the best time of any for a new champion to emerge.

Western Boone is 0-4 on the season and averaging just 24.5 points per game. The Stars, who are led by sophomore Emily Conyer’s 11 points per game have suffered losses to Greencastle, West Lafayette, Rossville, and Plainfield. The Stars will take on Crawfordsville in the first semifinal tonight at Crawfordsville at 6 p.m.

The Athenians, who have played just two games, have had to postpone a pair of contests due to COVID-19, but are excited about the opportunity to play the Stars.

“We know they will have a size advantage on us, so our effort to rebound the basketball will be important,” Crawfordsville coach Tyler Smith said. “From the film we’ve seen, they like to mix up their defenses, so we’ve been preparing for any defense they may throw our way. We’ll be down a few starters for this game, but we still feel like we’ll have a shot if we play together.”

The Athenians are averaging just 29.5 points per game in their losses to Seeger and North Putnam, led by freshman Taylor Abston’s 11 points per game.

Smith knows the offense must be more fluid if they want to compete this weekend.

“We have to limit turnovers, and then shoot with confidence,” he said. “Our girls need to embrace their roles, and take the shots their team needs them to take. When confidence improves, execution will improve.”

North at South

North Montgomery will travel to Southmont on Friday night in the other semifinal with a traditional junior-varsity and varsity schedule starting at 6 p.m.

The Mounties own a four-game win streak over the Chargers and are 1-0 on the season after a season-opening win over Bethesda Christian last week. First-year coach Dan Burkman has the Mounties preparing for North Montgomery.

“I know it’s cliche’ to say but I really believe you prepare for the game at hand,” he said. “However, through practice planning and prep for North, I will work in specific drills in prep for Saturday’s game.”

North Montgomery is 2-0 on the season with wins over Frontier and Riverton Parke, but haven’t played since last Monday when its game against Park Tudor was suspended at halftime, a game they trailed in.

“Our varsity girls have been quarantined for eight days and then we will have two practices before Friday night’s game against Southmont,” North Montgomery coach Ryan Nuppnau said. “So I’m sure we will be a little fatigued, but our girls have been working hard at home to stay conditioned.”

Guard Madi Welch is averaging eight points per game for the Chargers, while forwards McKenzie Schroeder and Katie Rice have each had high-scoring games. And the post play by North Montgomery is expected to challenge that of Southmont’s.

“I think North’s biggest strength is their post play,” Burkman said. “They are disciplined offensively and make a real effort to get their post the ball.”

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