This sectional, won last year by Hamilton Heights, will be one of four in Class 3A that could have an area winner to advance to the Columbia City Regional.
With a 73-75 combined record, five of the seven teams in this Sectional actually have a winning record. 1-19 Blackford kind of swings the curve south.
Note: Records are as of the morning of Saturday, January 26
JAY COUNTY (16-7)
The Patriots climbed to 16-7 by winning eight straight and 14 of their last 15. The Patriots have used a steel sharpens steel approach with a very tough schedule and hence the seven losses. Three of those have come in Class 3A but there is no shame in a six point loss to Bellmont, an overtime loss to Concordia or the four point loss at New Castle that is the most relevant here.
Make no mistake that this is a very good team in Class 3A with one of the area’s best and most consistent players in Shelby Caldwell. She really started to establish herself as a major threat last season but now she is absolutely the toughest player on the court most nights. She scored two points in a very bad night, but a win over Fort Recovery (OH), but other than that she has had 22 games in double figures ranging from 10 all the way up to a program record 41 points against Blackford. She shoots 56 percent from inside the three point arch.
This is senior laden group that was a win away from a Sectional title last year. Caldwell and fellow seniors Kendra Muhlenkamp, Hannah Phillips, Hanna Dillon, Clare Dirksen and Kendal Garringer have all played in 21 or more games and will all be playing at their maximum effort to add one more title to the Patriots’ resume. They will open on Wednesday against Delta with the winner playing the winner of Blackford and New Castle in Friday’s semi final.
This is a younger Hamilton Heights team, but one that has a lot of potential and a winning pedigree. To look at it against our area, this team beat both Snider and Northrop and lost by just two points to Norwell this season.
Bayleigh Runner is a junior with a lot of potential shooting the ball from anywhere on the court. Opponents in this Sectional will need to do their best to contend with her and she tries to get Hamilton Heights back to a regional in a year where many would consider this team a year away. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them back in the Sectional title game. They will first play opposite Yorktown on Tuesday with the winner playing Muncie Burris on Friday.
Cameron Tabor is pretty special and any kind of talk of New Castle should surround her. She is arguably the toughest player in this Sectional that contains Jay County’s Shelby Caldwell. At 23.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game, she has the type of all around game that will keep the Trojans as a viable option throughout this tournament. They will face Blackford in an easy Wednesday game and then get the winner of Delta and Jay County on Friday. Tabor’s second to most recent game — for those who don’t know her power — was a four steal, 15 rebound, 45 point outing. Good luck.
Yorktown will play Hamilton Heights in the lone Tuesday game. They have the most wins against this Sectional by beating Blackford, Delta, Muncie Burris and then Hamilton Heights most recently on January 17. While I would certainly favor Hamilton Heights in their rematch, there is something to be said about Yorktown beating them by seven less than two weeks before this game.
This is the team that gets Jay County on Wednesday night. The Patriots, focus of this breakdown as the lone area team in this Sectional, will have to contend with a pretty good freshman in Grace Gilland. This is a team who’s best bet in staying with Jay County relies on their three point shooting. They hit a lot but they shoot a lot. Delta will be aiming to better their 29 percent shooting percentage from deep.
Their only win versus anyone outside of Class 1A was against Blackford and we will visit them momentarily. Burris drew the bye and will get the winner of Yorktown and Hamilton Heights on Friday. Burris is one of two teams who certainly doesn’t have the ability to keep up in this Sectional.
At 1-19, Blackford is in this because every team plays in the postseason. Their only win was over 1-17 Class 1A Wes-Del. This is a one and done experience for the Bruins.
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