Here is a glance at what the weekend looks like for a few teams prior to the three-day break for Christmas:
Perkins (4-1, 2-0) at Norwalk (2-3, 2-0)
The winner of this game is more than likely going to be in first place in the Lake division of the Sandusky Bay Conference entering 2018.
The Pirates were held to just 32 points in a season-opening loss on Dec. 2 vs. Edison. However, since that setback, Perkins has averaged 56.5 points per game in four consecutive victories.
Norwalk hasn’t fared well in non-league action, including two rough losses at home to Mansfield Madison (75-51) and Keystone (55-39). But the Truckers only two wins this season are the two that have meant the most: a pair of Lake division wins over Tiffin Columbian (51-50) and Clyde (53-48).
While the Pirates have a Lake division game yet on Saturday vs. Columbian, the Truckers are done with SBC play until Jan. 4 — though they play Lexington on Saturday at the Richland Source Challenge at Ontario.
One interesting note on the annual matchup between the Pirates and Truckers: the last five meetings between the two teams have been decided by eight points or less, including back-to-back overtime games.
Norwalk won (56-54) in the 2015 season opener, while the Pirates claimed a 48-46 OT win at home a year ago.
Margaretta (3-2, 1-1) at Willard (2-4, 1-0)
After a rough start to the season, the Crimson Flashes have won back-to-back games to set up a key SBC Bay division matchup.
The Polar Bears were voted the preseason favorites by the coaches in the deep Bay division, and will need a road win after they lost a tight game to Huron (56-51) last weekend.
After losing by 21, 41 and 41 to open the season, the Flashes appeared to find something in a 47-43 loss vs. Bellevue on Dec. 9. Willard has since followed that performance up with a 55-39 win over Port Clinton and a 59-50 win against Buckeye Central.
Edison (4-2) at St. Paul (2-0)
The Flyers will travel to Huron on Friday before hosting the Chargers on Saturday — giving them a strong non-conference test against two of the stronger teams in the highly-competitive SBC Bay division.
St. Paul opened the season two weeks behind the rest of the area after another extended run in the state football playoffs. The Flyers then came out blazing last weekend, blasting Monroeville (71-32) and dismantling Crestview (77-32).
Both of those Firelands Conference games were at home and the the Flyers were heavy favorites in both. Though they are non-league contests, both games figure to offer strong tests for the Flyers.
Meanwhile, the Chargers entertain Tiffin Calvert (2-2) tonight prior to Saturday’s visit to St. Paul.
Sandusky (1-3) at Western Reserve (4-2)
The Roughriders didn’t have much back in terms of experience this season, but find themselves off to a solid start with a 3-0 FC record.
But Saturday has the potential to be an eye-opener, something longtime coach Chris Sheldon knew when the Blue Streaks were put on the schedule in a home-and-home series.
Sandusky enters the game just 1-3, but has taken losses to Bellevue, Shelby and Mansfield Madison — the last two by a combined 13 points.
Western opened with a 20-point loss at Margaretta, but has won four of its last five. The lone setback was a tipped in buzzer-beating basket by Keystone (5-1) in a 45-44 loss on Dec. 9.
St. Paul (4-2, 3-1) at Western Reserve (6-1, 4-0)
A year ago, the road team won both games in this matchup as the Lady Flyers and Roughriders shared the FC title in the process.
With Western Reserve returning almost its entire team from a year ago, while St. Paul lost five seniors, the Roughriders entered this season as the prohibitive FC favorites.
The ‘Riders opened with a 49-44 loss vs. Div. II Perkins, which also just beat St. Paul by 15 on Tuesday. Western has won its four FC games by margins of 42, 10, 43 and 45 points, respectively.
St. Paul has handled Monroeville, Plymouth and New London thus far, with its lone FC setback coming in a 47-42 road loss at Crestview on Dec. 14.
Willard (4-2, 2-0) at Oak Harbor (7-1, 2-0)
This matchup is as big of an SBC Bay division game as there can be before the calendar flips to 2018.
Following a key home win last Saturday vs. Margaretta, the Crimson Flashes enter this game riding momentum. The Flashes have lost to Upper Sandusky (6-2) and Bellevue (7-0) in non-league play, but have wins over the Polar Bears and Port Clinton in Bay division action.
Oak Harbor lost three close games to Clyde last season to finish second in the SBC before the division split. Willard has spent the last several years battling in a deep Northern Ohio League with Bellevue, Norwalk, Ontario and Shelby prior to the move to the Bay division.
Both teams also fell in district title games last season, and this early matchup figures to go a long way in the league championship picture.
Ontario (4-3) at Norwalk (5-2)
On paper, it’s just a non-league game prior to a more important SBC Lake division game on Dec. 30 at Shelby.
However, another win by the Truckers also means six wins in eight games to start the season in a year they were being asked to replace nearly 30 points per game in Jiselle Thomas, now a freshman at Div. I High Point University.
Losses to Div. I Perrysburg at home and an overtime game at Willard are the lone setbacks through seven games for Norwalk, which has Lake division wins over Columbian and Clyde.