There won’t be a busier time on the local boys’ basketball schedule than this coming weekend.
All four county teams play two games this weekend – with the top two games occurring Saturday when Frankfort (9-4) plays host to West Lafayette (11-3) and Rossville (8-6) gets a home contest with Class A No. 10 Pioneer (10-3).
The Hot Dogs already own a 15-point win over the Red Devils, but the teams have gone in different directions since then. West Lafayette has won nine of its last 10 games with the lone loss a one-point setback to Class 2A No. 3 Tipton. Frankfort is 3-4 over its last seven games and is coming off a loss to Lafayette Central Catholic.
“It’s a situation where, I don’t know if things have flipped, but (West Lafayette is) on a roll,” said Frankfort head coach Tom Weeks. “We’ve dropped a couple that maybe we shouldn’t have. They’re going to come in with a little something to prove and we have to be ready to meet the challenge on our home floor. Our guys are going to play with pride and play hard.”
West Lafayette had votes in this week’s Associated Press poll, and both teams are back-to-back in the Sagarin Ratings with Frankfort 11th and West Lafayette 12th in 3A.
Frankfort senior Dakota Isgrigg got the best of West Lafayette standout Justus Stanback (10.9 points, 8.5 rebounds per game) in the first encounter, forcing Stanback into 4 of 22 shooting. Stanback, an IUPUI signee, has scored 11 or more points in eight of the last 11 games.
Isgrigg is still battling an ankle injury that severely limited his minutes in the loss to Central Catholic. Isgrigg twisted it against Rossville on Jan. 12 after awkwardly landing on his foot following a dunk attempt.
“I think there’s a twinge of it but it’s looking stronger every day in practice,” Weeks said. “We’re hoping he’ll be 100 percent by game time (today).”
Frankfort junior Christian Smith is Frankfort’s third leading scorer at 9.7 points per game, but he’s had six games this season where he’s scored six points or less. Five of those have come in the last eight games, including a scoreless performance against Central Catholic on Saturday.
Smith is shooting a county-worst 36 percent from the field, numbers well below his freshman (39 percent) and sophomore year (44 percent).
“A lot of it has been unselfishness and trying to get more people involved,” Weeks said. “We have a lot more guys that can score right now and guys that do a lot of different things. It’s nothing that we need to be worried about. Christian’s a very talented player that’s going to put everything together and bring the defensive effort. That’ll only pick up his offense.”
Fouls have also been a concern as the Hot Dogs are averaging 17.5 per contest (for a comparison, Rossville is at 13.5, Prairie 14.0 and Central 20.5). Smith has fouled four times this year, Isaac Rudd three times, Brody Kirby twice and Jacob Barnes one.
The constant foul trouble has prevented Frankfort from getting into a flow offensively at times.
“Our kids have a tendency to reach instead of move feet and that’s cost us at times,” Weeks said. “We’ve got to do a better job and we have been working on that all week.
“Fouls and having to sit always interrupt your flow and how you want to sub and keep things going.”
Pioneer is led by 6-foot-4 sophomore Carter Skaggs, who scored a career-high 34 points in last week’s 86-43 win over Carroll. The Panthers also have other talented players in Matt Dorris, Brandon Scruggs and Mitchell Williams.
Drawing the defensive assignment on Skaggs is Rossville junior Ethan Brenneman. Brenneman missed the Jan. 18 game against Clinton Central with the flu, but played in Saturday’s game against Harrison. Brenneman should be at 100 percent for the weekend slate.
“They do a good job getting Skaggs his shots, running him off a bunch of screens,” said Rossville head coach Dave Mosson. “He has such a quick release he doesn’t need much time or space to get a shot off. Ethan’s got a slight height advantage so we’re going to defend him that way.”
In Rossville’s loss to Frankfort, coach Dave Mosson said he made a mistake in switching from a man-to-man defense to a zone defense. But with the Pioneers possessing a solid big man in Mitchell Williams, Mosson said he may re-visit the zone.
“We don’t defend big post people well,” Mosson said. “I didn’t feel like we made the adjustment Saturday to keep the ball out of (Taylon) Sondgerath’s hands at Harrison. We’ve been working on making those kinds of adjustments. We were getting killed inside and tried to adjust at halftime. That was a big disappointment that we didn’t sag that zone.”
Rossville senior point guard James Baker had 21 assists over two games last weekend and is now fifth in the state in assists with 87 (6.2/game), according to Varvee.com.
“There was a stretch Saturday night we came down the floor and 3-4 straight times and beat Harrison’s defense down the court, got penetration and found an open guy,” Mosson said. “Any time you break down a defense with the dribble-drive, good things happen and he makes good choices for the most part.”
Tonight, Frankfort hosts Crawfordsville (3-10, 0-3 SAC) at Rossville hosts Tri-County (8-5).
AROUND THE COUNTY
Clinton Prairie (2-10) has a pair of home games this weekend against University (7-7) and North White (5-8). Three Gophers – junior Austin Martin (15.0), freshman Kale Morris (11.8) and senior Ryan Walker (10.6) – are averaging in double figures.
Clinton Central is also at home twice this weekend, playing Attica (6-6) tonight and Lewis Cass (6-6) on Saturday.
Busy basketball weekend
Rossville junior Brandon Tonsoni (left) guards Clinton Central’s Lane McCoy in last week’s game. Tonsoni is the county’s leading scorer at 16.8 points per game as the Hornets prepare for Class A No. 10 Pioneer on Saturday.