By GREG MENGELT
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
Less than two weeks into the boys’ basketball season, we are about to find out what many of the local teams are made of.
Jeffersonville, New Albany, Charlestown, Borden and Providence face huge tests, not to mention Clarksville going to Silver Creek.
All of the above teams have high expectations for the 2012-13 season. This weekend, fans of those teams will know of the expectations are warranted.
TOP GAMES OF THE WEEKEND
BOYS — New Albany (1-0, 0-0 HHC) at Columbus East (0-0, 0-0), Friday
New Albany already passed a big test, beating Bloomington South in the opener.
However, that game was at home. The Bulldogs face their first road test on Friday. And it’s a big one.
Led by junior Bryce Leinhoop and a gritty, veteran senior class, most expect this to be the best East team since the Hoosier Hills Conference championship team of 2002-2003.
New Albany was one of the toughest teams to predict heading into the season. The addition of Josh Rogers and his 3-point range appears to be just what the Bulldogs needed to go along with their superior athleticism.
The win over South showed that the Bulldogs should be improved after last year’s 14-8 season. A win over the Olympians on Friday would be even further prove that New Albany is once again ready to compete for HHC and sectional titles.
THE PICK: New Albany 60, Columbus East 57.
BOYS — Clarksville (2-0, 0-0 MSC) at Silver Creek (1-0, 0-0), Friday
The Generals and Dragons are both off to excellent starts.
Clarksville posted an impressive road win over Floyd Central on Tuesday. The Dragons have yet to face a huge test, but won by 51 points in their opener. For a team with almost no returning varsity players, the lack of experience could be a big deal heading into a game against one of the best teams in the Mid-Southern Conference and Class 2A.
The homecourt advantage is always big in Sellersburg, but it won’t be enough to make up for the Generals’ experience advantage in both teams’ MSC opener.
THE PICK: Clarksville 81, Silver Creek 68.
BOYS — Lanesville (1-1, 0-0 SAC) at Borden (2-0, 0-0), Friday
There’s nothing that indicates that there is another team in the Southern Athletic Conference capable of competing with the Eagles and Braves.
Therefore, just about 10 days into the season, this is — for all intents and purposes — for the SAC championship game unless the winner of this game shockingly stumbles later in the season.
Borden showed great poise and toughness in a win at Eastern. This could be a similar test, but one I completely expect them to pass.
THE PICK: Borden 72, Lanesville 64.
BOYS — Austin (1-0) at Providence (1-0), Friday
Austin is deep, talented and balanced. The Eagles opened the season with a nice 70-60 win over rival Scottsburg.
Providence coach Lou Lefevre can complain about his team all he wants, but he has a talented bunch, as well. The Pioneers will be tested — and soon — just probably not too much at home on Friday.
THE PICK: Providence 55, Austin 44.
GIRLS — Madison (5-0, 1-0 HHC) at Jeffersonville (2-2, 0-2), Friday
It’s been a rough stretch for Matt Pait’s Red Devils with tough back-to-back conference losses following a 2-0 start.
A win on Friday could be one of those that is a turning point for a program. If Jeff can defend its home court and knock off an unbeaten team, it might just give the athletic Devils some momentum and some confidence against a brutal upcoming schedule.
It will take a big effort, though.
THE PICK: Madison 63, Jeff 58.
BOYS — Jeffersonville (0-0) at Evansville Bosse (0-0), Saturday
Honestly, I have no idea what JaQuan Lyle has returning around him, but the junior is one of the top 20 players in his class in the nation. When a kid is choosing between the likes of Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio State, he can seriously play.
Jeff will be undersize, but highly athletic and skilled. If the Red Devils can find a way to rebound and defend opposing bigs, it could be a another great season in Jeff.
This is a tough way to open the season — on the road against one of the top players in America, the second-ranked team in Class 3A and a defending semi-state finalist. A win would be monumental, but a loss shouldn’t keep the Devils from another big year.
THE PICK: Bosse 72, Jeff 67.
BOYS — Silver Creek (1-0) at Floyd Central (0-1), Saturday
As most Randy Gianfagna-coached teams do, the Highlanders showed fight and tenacity in a near-comeback win against Clarksville in their opener.
This game features two teams with almost nothing returning from last year’s varsity, so it could go either way. But I expect Floyd to continue the momentum it built in the fourth quarter of that loss into a win over the Dragons.
THE PICK: Floyd Central 59, Silver Creek 52.
GIRLS — Silver Creek (4-1, 2-0 MSC) at Corydon Central (3-1, 1-0), Saturday
Scottsburg is probably the favorite to win the MSC. The Dragons and Panthers are a close 2a and 2b.
This appears to be one of those games that comes down to the wire. The way the Dragons play defense, most of these games do.
In games like that, I almost always side with the home team. There is no bigger home advantage than in basketball. If the Dragons do find a way to get a huge road win, they should be in the MSC race right until the end.
THE PICK: Corydon Central 44, Silver Creek 42.
OTHER BIG GAMES
• Boys, Charlestown (0-0, 0-0 MSC) at Scottsburg (1-1, 1-1): It’s always tough for teams that get started late because of football success, but something tells me Sean Smith’s squad is going to surprise people this season. THE PICK: Charlestown 69, Scottsburg 65.
• Boys, New Washington (0-0) at Rock Creek (1-2): Rock Creek has already played three games. Because of Charlestown’s football success, New Wash still hasn’t played. That’s a pretty big advantage for a team that already had the upper hand in experience and athleticism. THE PICK: Rock Creek 59, New Wash 39.
• Girls, Providence (4-3) at Salem (4-2): After I picked South Central to beat Providence and the Pioneers prevailed, Brad Burden asked me to pick against his team the rest of the year. Here you go, Coach. THE PICK: Salem 58, Providence 48.
• Boys, Madison (1-0) at Providence (1-0): Make it a weekend sweep for the Pioneers, even against an apparently improved Madison squad. THE PICK: Providence 41, Madison 35.
• Boys, New Albany (1-0) at Evansville Harrison (1-0): Back-to-back nights on the road against two tough opponents may be too much to ask of the Bulldogs. (Harrison doesn’t play Friday and can relax and scout New Albany by the way.) If the Bulldogs sweep this weekend, look out. THE PICK: Harrison 66, New Albany 61.
• Boys, New Wash (0-0) at Christian Academy (1-1): CAI may be the surprise area Class A team of the season. The Warriors have a good mix of experience and talent. THE PICK: Christian Academy 70, New Wash 53.
• Girls, New Albany (3-1, 0-0 HHC) at Bedford North Lawrence (4-0, 1-0): BNL may have the best team in the entire state. At least one voter in the coaches’ poll believes so. THE PICK: BNL 65, New Albany 52.