The NHC has always been known as a competitive boys basketball league. Adding a new-look New Haven to the mix has only added to that feeling.
The Bulldogs, buoyed by the addition of some Harding castoffs, including Notre Dame recruit V.J. Beachem, and Hawks coach Al Gooden are relevant for the first time in a few years.
New Haven has joined Homestead, Norwell and Columbia City has contenders for the league championship this season.
"Al has had a lot of success, and he's done a really good job in a short amount of time of blending those two schools and making them play together," Columbia City coach Chris Benedict said after his Eagles were beaten by the Bulldogs 69-63 on Friday. "Al was the best guy to do that. He does a tremendous job of getting his players to understand to play hard and defend.
"And nobody is going to argue that the ball needs to go through V.J."
Beachem had 25 points and eight rebounds against Columbia City.