This weekend kicks off a very important weekend for Clay County basketball teams.
The Northview Knights opened some eyes with a home court victory over a tough Martinsville squad with an inexperienced lineup that many thought would struggle during the early portion of the season. But thanks to tough defense and patient possessions with the ball, Northview upended the Artesians 38-36 in their season opener.
For the Clay City Eels, their transition from a senior dominated lineup to a group of new faces to the varsity scene was a bit rougher.
Facing off against a strong and experienced South Vermillion club, the Eels couldn't finish down the stretch in falling 52-39.
But this is a new week.
The Knights will get another big test when they host a sizable Terre Haute North squad tonight at 6:30 p.m.
The Patriots are coming off a 70-48 hammering of host Evansville Central in their opener with three players scoring in double figures.
Six-foot-four sophomore Luke Blank drilled five-of-seven 3-pointers and scored 24 points with 6'4 Dan O'Leary ringing up 15 points and 11 rebounds to go with 6'4 Jason Gilmore scoring 16 points and adding seven assists.
All three of those players will be key players against the Knights who got nine points apiece from Wade Thacker (three-for-seven in 3-pointers) and senior Shawn Hughes, with post man Heath Chamberlain contributing seven big points inside.
Chamberlain along with 6'8 Nick Wells will have to go toe-to-toe with 6'7 Steven Jeffers along with a talented crop of North big men who can play from the perimeter as well.
Sophomore Brodee Miller (6'5) will likely have an important defensive assignment against one of North's scorers and after leading the team in rebounding versus the Artesians will be key on the glass as well. Hughes will also be counted on to limit the offensive production of one of the Patriots' scorers and Thacker's outside production will help open the post for Wells and Chamberlain.
An extensive rotation of Knights gives Northview a different look on the floor and will help keep players rested.
The Knights are still looking for their offensive identity which will come with time, but these early season tests, including a trip to Brown County on Saturday, will only make them stronger down the road.
For Clay City, who faces 0-2 Union this evening, the key is maintaining momentum against a Bulldogs squad that starts four experienced juniors who play the perimeter. While the group doesn't have much size, three of the four are 5'10 or smaller, their scoring ability is unquestioned.
Five-foot-10 Daniel Page scored 15 points in a season opening loss to Bloomfield and 6'3 postplayer Justin Davidson hit double-figures with 10. Leading returning scorer, 5'9 Ryan Gambill scored nine and 5'8 Cory Camden added seven.
Clay City's Garrett Thatcher had a big opening game in the paint for the Eels with a team-leading 14 points and six rebounds. He will be key in eliminating the Bulldogs inside game and providing some points.
At guard, the Eels will have a height advantage at each position and will need to exploit that difference whether it be from the perimeter or getting the ball to the basket. Jose Vansickle had a rough four-of-13 shooting night in the opener but should get some more open looks against a smaller defender. T.L. Roeschlein didn't find the scoring column but had some good looks that didn't go in and Brock Dyer could get some big points as well.
The Eels will look to even their season mark on the road against the Bulldogs beginning at 6:30 p.m.
In girls basketball, Northview's girls will get a tough matchup with Brown County (5-1 overall) on Saturday evening at approximately 5 p.m. and the Eels will visit Turkey Run (2-4 overall).