NECC title a generational championship for West Noble

February 28, 2023


West Noble’s long regular season league title drought came to an end this season when the Chargers won the Northeast Corner Conference championship for the first time in 37 years .

West Noble clinched a share of the NECC back on February 2 when the Chargers beat Westview, 80-69, at home. They won the conference outright with a 68-55 victory at Garrett on February 28.

“It’s been exciting to see all of our hard work this season pay off,” senior guard Austin Cripe tells PSM. “The last four years, it hasn’t always been easy. But this year, we put it all together.” Cripe has committed to play college basketball at Bethel University.

West Noble 2023
The 3A #7 West Noble Chargers won the NECC regular season championship for the first time since 1986, won the NECC Tournament for the first time since 2014, and swept both for the first time since 1973. 

West Noble has been one of the top teams in 3A all season, and finished #6 in the Associated Press poll. The Chargers started 7-0 before losing to Blackhawk Christian, then ranked #1 in 2A, at the inaugural PSM Holiday Shootout. West Noble won its next nine games—including the NECC Tournament for the first time since 2014—before losing to 3A #1 NorthWood. The Chargers won four of their final five regular season games.

“This senior class has played a lot of basketball together,” fourth-year head coach Ethan Marsh says. “It’s nice to come in with them, and kind of see them all the way through.”

Since Marsh came to Ligonier, the Chargers have improved from 8-15 to 13-10 to 14-9 to 20-3 so far this season. It is also the first time in 50 years West Noble swept the NECC regular season and tournament championships.

“They’ve put in a lot of time. The younger guys have seen that. Younger guys have seen that, and kind of taken the torch a little bit,” Marsh says.

Joining Marsh for the last four seasons is a face familiar to West Noble: assistant coach Gary Goshert. Goshert was West Noble head coach for over a decade, leading the Chargers to their last NECC title in 1986. In retirement, Goshert joined Marsh at Central Noble. All these years later, Goshert is back on the bench at West Noble.

“The first opportunity you get to coach and teach out of college is really special,” says Goshert, who later coached at Wawasee High School, Manchester High School and assisted at Manchester College. “Coming here every day is the best part of my day.”

West Noble 1986
The 1985-86 Chargers, West Noble's last NECC regular season champions

For Goshert, the similarities between these 2022-23 Chargers and those 1985-86 Chargers are uncanny. In addition to playing hard and winning a lot of games, both teams had seniors named Cripe and Schemerhorn.

Austin’s dad, Jack played guard at West Noble back then, while Luke Schemerhorn’s dad, Tom, was the leading scorer 37 years ago and named The Kendallville Sun Player of the Year. Tom has been West Noble director for 23 years. Tom’s dad, Roger, was principal of West Noble High School when Tom played.

“It’s fun for us old guys to talk about a little bit; but our day was a long time ago,” Tom jokes. “It’s all about them now.  It’s been fun following these kids.”

With conference hardware in hand, West Noble moves on to the postseason with hope of winning its first ever sectional championship. The Chargers play in the five-team 3A NorthWood Sectional 20, and face Lakeland—who they beat by 28 on January 6—in the first semi-final. With a win, West Noble would likely have a rematch against top-ranked NorthWood in the sectional final.

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