Here it is, the “regional of death” as it lovingly known as. Personally, it sounds horrifying. But every year, this regional that features the winners of both of the Class 4A area sectionals as well as winners from around Indianapolis, is one of the most uniquely puzzling ones to win.
This season folks, it doesn’t get any easier at all.
HAMILTON SOUTHEASTERN (23-1)
The Royals will kick off their run to a state title game at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning against Carroll; the two teams met November 17 with Hamilton Southeastern winning by 40. That is a huge gap to try and bridge if you are Carroll. The honest fact here is that no team in the state of Indiana has beat the Royals this year and they are winning by an average of 26.5 points per game and have only have three wins that were by single digits.
You could make the argument, and I will, that 6-foot-1 Sydney Parrish is one of the best players in the state as a junior. She has to be an early frontrunner for Miss Basketball contention next season, but she certainly has not waited until her senior year to spread her wins. Parrish averages 20.9 points and seven rebounds per game and has a season low of 13 points. That means she is consistently between 13 and 27 points every game and at 50 percent from the field, she is dangerous and active. Parrish scores in a variety of ways so you can’t be content or comfortable with her anywhere on the floor because she will change up what she is doing well.
Amaya Hamilton, a 6-2 senior, is cut from the same cloth with all her averages just behind Parrish. She is a tenacious player who’s job is to make opposing players uncomfortable no matter the situation. And if you think about putting the duo on the line, don’t. They each shoot 76 percent from the charity stripe, as does senior Malea Jackson. Both Carroll and any championship game opponent will need to really do a good job of at least cutting off the interior to try and slow down all three of the players on this roster over 6-foot tall.
I could list accomplishments all day, but lets just say that Hamilton Southeastern is very good. They are the benchmark in this Regional and everyone else has to play catch up.
Locally, Homestead stayed the cream of the crop all season long with minimal challenge from any team in Northeast Indiana. The larger state scale, including Indianapolis, was always thought to be the challenge. So here we are. Sylare Starks (11.1 points, 3.6 assists per game) and Haley Swing (8.9 points, 4.9 rebounds) have both been playing some of their top notch basketball lately. We also know that team leading scorer Ayanna Patterson (13.3 points, 7.9 rebounds) is capable of very big things too on Saturday. But, this is a big moment for her; arguably the biggest of her high school career. Will Patterson rise or shrink to the occasion? We think we know, but you have to actually get there to see.
That isn’t to say Homestead can’t thrive if Patterson isn’t hitting. She scored just four points with no made field goals in the Sectional final and yet Homestead was still dominating. This is a day where mental toughness means a lot. Homestead will have to use their experiences (5 of these girls have a state champion medal from 2017) to really out execute whoever they get, but most likely two of the top teams in the state. They open Saturday against Zionsville at noon.
A young Carroll team got here by virtue of winning a Sectional that ranked 63rd in the state based on combined schedule. Keep that in the back of your mind when you look at the quality of opponent this regional brings because it is a big leap forward. That said, Bounce doesn’t want to take any credit away from Carroll because this really is a fun team to watch and there are a lot of good, very capable scorers in this lineup. While Emily Parrett and Olivia Hoeppner are the first to come to mind, Malia Williams’ Sectional title game outburst was a lot of fun. Carroll is going to be good for years to come because they are very young, but Hamilton Southeastern is just a buzzsaw that they aren’t ready for yet; I don’t know that any of these three teams are.
The Eagles match up well with Homestead in the noon game Saturday at Kokomo. They are a team that goes eight or nine players deep often and usually have three girls scoring in double figures every game. Sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it? Do not sleep on this team giving Homestead a generous run for their money in the morning game. This is a senior laden group, although led in scoring by sophomore Katey Richason. Zionsville’s star from a year ago, Maddie Nolan, is the big question mark here. She returned just four games ago after being cleared by doctors after missing this entire season. She scored 5 in her return game but then 19, 14 and 16 in three Sectional games. Lets not forget she helped lead this team to the state title game a year ago. Nolan being back could change a lot.
These opinions represent those of Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH