Two Jackson County junior high schools will showcase their abilities at the 50th Lutheran Basketball Association of America National Tournament of Champions this week.

Following successful regular-season campaigns — and state tournament runs — St. John’s Sauers Lutheran girls and Immanuel Lutheran School’s boys’ basketball teams will take on their respective fields of 32 starting Friday at Valparaiso University.

Raiders seek s

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econd titleSauers enters the LBAA National tourney with an Indiana state title under its belt.The Raiders went 3-0 at the girls state basketball championship, defeating Emmanuel-St. Michael (Fort Wayne) and St. Peter (Columbus) before downing St. Paul’s (Fort Wayne) in the title game.

Ashley Schroer was named Most Valuable player, and Schroer and Sydney Jaynes were named to All-Tourney team.

The Raiders won the state tournament two years ago and finished third at nationals in 2014.

Mary Ellen Jaynes and Craig Klinge have headed the team for the past four years.

Jaynes said that the Raiders, while they are young with just one eighth-grader on the roster, have lots of experience.

“We play a lot of basketball,” Jaynes said. “I think that it accumulates over the years. There’s a benefit to playing at a smaller school — you get a lot of playing time and often play up against older kids. It prepares us for tournaments against competitive teams.”

At this year’s tournament, the Raiders will need to play strong defense to advance past Friday’s opener against St John’s Lutheran (Minnesota) at 8 a.m.

“We need to be more aggressive on defense and focus on our rebounding,” Jaynes said. “Girls at this age aren’t fantastic shooters because they’re still growing. They get a little stronger each year and their shot changes. We need lots of second and third chance opportunities.

“We have a pretty balanced team, which I think is a benefit for us at this age. Junior high, you usually see one or two good players per team. We have a lot of players right now who can run in and out.”

If the Raiders win their first game, they will face the winner of St. John Nottingham (Ohio) and St. Paul’s Lutheran (Wisconsin) at 5:50 p.m. Friday.

The quarterfinals will take place Saturday, with the semis and championship scheduled for Sunday.

Immanuel takes the court

The Immanuel boys’ team earned an at-large bid on the first round of votes to make the LBAA national competition.After dropping their first game at state, the Warriors claimed back-to-back wins to finish third in Fort Wayne.“We’ve really had a good year,” Warriors coach Jim Hoffman said. “There were some ups and downs, but we have developed into a good team. Its been a lot of fun watching them grow and mature.

“It was a good weekend at state. We played a couple of our best games when we had to.”

Friday, the Warriors open play at 3:15 p.m. against Advent Lutheran (Florida).

Should Immanuel emerge victorious, they will take on Trinity Lutheran (Iowa) or Salem Lutheran (Texas) at 9:20 p.m.

At 24-7, the Warriors have a strong resume leading into nationals.

In the state tourney, Immanuel downed Wyneken 43-38 and defeated two-time defending national champion St. Paul (Fort Wayne) 42-37.

The lone loss came to the eventual state champions ,Holy Cross, 60-20.

Keaton Stout was selected to the state all-tournament team, as he averaged 13 points per game.

This season, the Warriors have relied on a fast-paced offense to put up big numbers.

“Our (biggest) strength is we have a good inside game,” Hoffman said. “We’re a high-scoring team that averages about 54 points a game. We’re not the biggest size-wise in depth. After our first five, we have some good role guys.”

Like Sauers, Immanuel will need strong defense to place highly.

“We’re going to have to take care of the ball,” Hoffman said. “We’re going to really have to focus on the defensive end. When we got beat, it was defense that hurt us. We’re in good shape, we can run with the best of them — so we want an up-tempo game. The key will be how we play defensively.”

This will be the Warriors’ fifth trip to state since Hoffman took over as coach in 2003.

All games will be streamed online at, and full brackets are available on that site as well.

Look for a story on how the team’s fared, along with coaches and players’ reactions, in an upcoming edition of The Tribune.

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Those heading to the national tournament from St. John Sauers’ girls basketball team includes: Ashey Schroer, Avery Koch, Emma Klinge, Emma Schepman, Katelyn Schepman, Maggie Connell, Sydney Jaynes, Ellen Zabor, Katerine Benter.

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Those heading to the national tournament from Immanuel Lutheran boys’ team include: Jaden Smith, Jace Crockett, Charlie Caudill, Lance Roark, Brett Otte, Brayden Murphy, Josh Rowe, Jordan Peters, Stone Cockerham, Braden Christopher and Keaton Stout.


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