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PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Helmuth's simple style attracts attention heading into regionals

Mar. 5—EMMA — For the first time since 2019, Westview has won consecutive sectional titles.

Of course, winning sectional titles isn't new for the Warriors program. It's the seventh time Westview has won back-to-back boys basketball sectional titles and the 22nd such title for the school.

Second-year head coach Chandler Prible knows this well.

"I've been joking with people like 'oh we're doing something that hasn't been done before,' but that's not the case; there are a lot of trophies around here," Prible said.

His group isn't overlooking the recent title, but losing in the regional round last season makes this year's pursuit of a regional title — the first for Westview since 2018 — an even greater focus.

To bring one back to Emma, keeping senior guard Luke Helmuth on his string of strong performances will certainly be a piece of the puzzle.

PLAYING SIMPLE

Underrated in the game of basketball is being comfortable with making the easy play, after all, style points have never been counted on the scoreboard. Sometimes, the simple play is worth more and can be more damaging when dissecting a defense than a circus-inspired shot would.

Helmuth, on one of the more impressive scoring streaks in the last few weeks, is getting the job done by taking what's open.

The surprising part? Opponents keep letting him do it.

"I think he simplified his game which has made him a lot more efficient," Prible said on Helmuth, who has averaged 22 points a game during the Warriors' current five-game win streak. "He's not so much hung-up on making some spectacular play, he just wants to make whatever the simple play is. He reads the defense well and makes the right pass or takes the shot when he needs to. Him being that simple and that efficient is making us very good."

"He's been playing great and has been the whole season but the points have really shot up lately and I think a little bit has been how teams have been guarding us and he's been able to exploit that very well," Prible added.

The impressive scoring feats started in Westview's final game of the regular season: a 40-39 win over a talented Concord team. While the state's 5th-ranked defense was without a focal piece that night, the Minutemen still allowed Helmuth to score a career-high 30 points to power the team forward.

When sectionals started, the senior returned to score 27 points against Fremont in the quarterfinals and 24 against Central Noble in the semifinals which felt like a sectional championship-level contest.

With defense being a strong suit of Helmuth's, his game opened up more on the offensive side when teams began to play zone against the Warriors.

"It was definitely a blast," Helmuth said. "I just felt like our team needed a spark, we were all kind of going cold for a bit, I just started hunting my shots a little bit more, I started taking my shots and it just started falling so I kept on shooting."

Helmuth's final season began in the summer when the guard knew there was a need for someone to step up offensively with 1,000-point scorer Brady Yoder graduated and now in an assistant role.

"This year coming in I knew I could fill a spot on the offensive side where Brady was leaving open," Helmuth said. "[I'm] definitely just finding ways to score and provide for my team especially in moments where our team needs it at end of quarters and end of game situations."

"What he does for us started in the summer," Prible said about Helmuth who was a three-sport athlete entering high school but centered on basketball his freshman year. "He's a guy that we'd have our workouts in the morning during the summer and I'd have to kick him out of the gym in the afternoon. I think it starts with that; him having that type of work-ethic."

Getting the last shot is something the senior leader said he has expressed to teammates and is "willing to reap the rewards or face the consequences of missing or making a shot." In the one-point win over the Minutemen, it was Helmuth who hit the game-winner.

As Westview prepares for Wabash in the 4 p.m. tipoff regional game at Triton High School, Prible has the Warriors carrying momentum into the matchup. Saturday's opponent has its share of energy heading into the matchup too, currently in the midst of a 12-game win streak.

The Apaches are 13-2 against 2A competition this season and have been known to shoot it from distance. A three-headed scoring dragon in Izaak Wright (15.6 points per game). Trevor Daughtry (13.9ppg) and Grant Ford (13.2ppg) overwhelmingly lead Wabash's scoring. Three Apaches have made 50 or more 3-pointers and four are shooting over 40%.

Containing that will be the job of the Warriors defense. Both schools sit relatively similar on the defensive side giving up near 45 points a game.

"If things aren't going right, he's the guy that will say something," Prible said on Helmuth. "He'll get frustrated, but our guys understand that he does a lot of stuff right so he is able to hold people accountable because of that. He's stepped into that role into being a vocal leader and righting the ship if he needs too."

With successful and experienced players around him, Helmuth certainly won't be the only weapon for Westview to uncover. However, the senior's play going into the regional round makes him a prime choice to carry a heavy load.

Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at matt.lucas@goshennews.com.