Boys basketball sectionals begin Tuesday
Some of you might remember the year — 2003. That was the first time the gymnasium at Switz City — aka White River Valley High School — did not host a boys basketball sectional for the first time since 1957, the year the facility was constructed.
You would have thought that heads were going to explode in Greene County as fans thought it was their right to have a sectional. After all those years, it is easy to get spoiled.
That sectional went off some 18 years ago without a hitch as Bloomfield defeated the host Eels 51-46 in overtime in the championship game. It was a great tournament despite people complaining about the lack of parking.
Guess what? Clay City will again play host to Class A Sectional 57 for boys basketball this year.
Admittedly, there is more parking now at Clay City, even though I am not sure how many fans will be allowed to attend and how many will venture out in these still unsure times because of the pandemic.
WRV has always been a great host, but Clay City has hosted volleyball, girls basketball and softball. Throughout my many years in this business, I can honestly say that nobody does a better job of hosting tournament events than Clay City.
I am sure there has been some bitching this year about the change in venue, but I am not privy to it because of now working in Sullivan County. Deaf ears, I guess.
But with that said, the 111th boys basketball state tournament series, hosted by the Indiana High School Athletic Association, will begin Tuesday night at venues across the state in four classes.
At the Class 3A Washington Sectional 31 at the Hatchet House, sectional favorite No. 8 Sullivan (18-3) will take on the host Hatchets (8-11), at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
That game features two of the winningest active coaches in Indiana. Coach Moore has 465 wins while Washington’s Gene Miiler has 725. A combined 1,190 victories.
It would be interesting to know how tournament games there have been featuring coaches with more wins. There are probably a few, but not many.
The Golden Arrows, winners of 10 of 11 including that 49-48 overtime loss to North Daviess on Friday, average 70 points per game on 53% shooting. They also make 73% of their foul shots.
Randy Kelley, who earlier became the 12th Sullivan boys player to reach 1,000 points, paces the Arrows in scoring at 17.8 ppg.
He also paces the Arrows with 5.5 assists per game. He grabs 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per night.
Illinois transfers Jackson Hills (15.8) and Braden Flanagan (15.3) combine to score over 31 points per game.
Hills leads the team in shooting (67%) and rebounding (8.7 ppg). Flanagan shoots 54%, 52% from 3-point range with 42 made treys.
Flanagan also dishes out 3.7 assists.
Gabe Pirtle (2.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg and 2.1 apg) and Will King (3 ppg, 1.4 rpg and 1 apg) round out the starting lineup.
Rocco Roshel and Luke Adams are the top two players off the bench. Roshel leads with 44 3-pointers on 54% shooting from distance. Adams averages 5.8 points per game.
“We really have seven starters,” said Moore. “They are almost interchangeable. We have a lot of weapons on offense.
“We do a great job of taking care of the ball. We only average about 5 or 6 turnovers a game.”
Moore said the other end of the floor will likely make or break the Arrows' pursuit of their first sectional title in 10 years.
“We usually do a good job of defending without fouling,” said Moore. “There have been a few times where we have not done a good job of stopping penetration.
“We have to make it tough for people to score and then finish off the possession with the rebound.”
The two teams met in the sectional title game last year at Vincennes Lincoln. The Hatchets won 69-60.
The winner will take on Princeton, who has won 12 of 16 games, in the second semifinal on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Pike Central (3-17) and Vincennes Lincoln (2-15) will meet in the first semi at 6 p.m. Friday.
The title game will be a 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
At Clay City, Lighthouse Christian Academy is now part of Class A Sectional 57, making it a seven-team field.
LCA (4-18) and White River Valley (3-19) will meet in the opening game at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
On Wednesday, North Central (12-10) will take on Eminence (6-14) in the first game at 6 p.m. Bloomfield, the three-time defending sectional champion, will take on the hosts in the second game at 7:30 p.m. The Cards are 13-9 and the Eels are 2-11.
Shakamak (8-12) drew the bye and will take on the LCA-WRV winner in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday. The winners of Wednesday’s game will meet in the second semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The title game will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
North Central defeated Eminence on the road 57-53 on Dec. 5.
“We had a close game with Eminence to begin the season back in December,” said North Central coach Vance Edmondson. “But that game really won’t mean much on Wednesday night.
“We are not the same team and I am sure they are not the same team. The draw is the draw. We will have to play much better than we did tonight (51-45 loss at home to Owen Valley on Thursday).”
The Thunderbirds are led in scoring by sophomore guard DeShawn Clark. Tyler Vaughn, Trevor Hadley, Wyatt Ison, Peyton Seay, Jacob Adams, James Roberts, Gage Wheaton have been in and out of the starting lineup this year.
“We have been very inconsistent, as evidenced by our record,” said Edmondson. “We have shown we can compete with some of the best teams in the state, but also have lost some games we could have and should have won.
“At this point, it is survive and advance. We are focused on Eminence knowing that we continue to play with a win, but our season ends with a loss.”
North Central has lost 11 straight postseason tournament games, 10 in the sectional. Their last tournament success was in 2010 when they won the sectional and regional before losing to Barr-Reeve at the semi-state.
Last season, they fell to host WRV 60-49 in double overtime.
The Class A North Daviess Sectional is among the toughest in the state. Barr-Reeve is ranked No. 1, Loogootee is No. 2 and the host Cougars are No. 4.
Barr-Reeve drew winless Washington Catholic while Loogootee and ND drew first-round byes.
Loogootee would likely face Orleans(15-5) and the Cougars (19-2) would play Barr-Reeve in the other semi-final.
I was looking at the teams that could feed into the Washington Regional on March 13.
That list includes No. 2 Silver Creek, No. 5 Heritage Hills, No. 8 Sullivan, No. 9 Greensburg, No. 10 Evansville Bosse and No. 12 North Harrison.
Others that could be there include Connersville (15-7) and Madison (14-8).
Some are in the same sectional so not all will cut down the nets at the sectional. But it still could be a loaded regional.
Tournament time in Indiana. It is still pretty special. Good luck to all.
Washington Sectional 31
Game 1 — Washington (8-11) vs. Sullivan (18-3), 7 p.m.
Game 2 — Pike Central (3-17) vs Vincennes Lincoln (2-15), 6 p.m.
Game 3 — Princeton (12-4) vs Winner Game 1, 7:30 p.m.
Championship game, 7:30 p.m.
Clay City Sectional 57
Game 1 — White River Valley (3-19) vs. Lighthouse Christian Academy (4-18), 7 p.m.
Game 2 — Eminence (6-14) vs. North Central (12-10), 6 p.m.
Game 3 — Clay City (2-11) vs. Bloomfield (13-9), 7:30 p.m.
Game 4 — Shakamak (8-12) vs. Winner Game 1, 6 p.m.
Game 3 — Winner Game 2 vs Winner Game 3. 7:30 p.m.
Championship game, 7:30 p.m.