This Regional contains the last remaining unbeaten anywhere in the state and the powerhouse that is Marion, who has won 69 Sectionals and 38 regionals.
These teams are 30-4 against Class 3A this season.
Unbeaten for a reason, Delta is also unbeaten (3-0) against the other remaining 63 teams in the state. They have a Sagarin rating of 15th in the state, but a strength of schedule of 174th. What makes them strong are games like their two wins against New Castle. They contained scorching scorer Luke Bumbalough enough, but more importantly they clamped down on the rest of that team. That is something Delta is very strong at. They are going to throw their best defender at your best player, but are strong at making sure your secondary players do not got involved enough.
Senior Josh Bryan (23 points per game) was the shining star of last weekend’s sold out showcases at New Castle. In the big moments, in the big gym, Bryan played some of his best basketball and opposite Bumbalough and Blackford’s Luke Brown, he came out looking great and the only of the three to hold a trophy on Saturday night. Delta, behind Bryan, finished as the only undefeated team in the regular season and still hold that title into Saturday. 6-foot-5 sophomore Brady Hunt has gone under the radar a lot, but don’t expect that to continue this weekend.
They will play Tippecanoe Valley in the noon game.
One of the things that helps make Marion a major contender here is the home court advantage. There are few, if any, homecourts that have a bigger advantage than in Marion and the ambiance of that gym. Jalen Blackmon (28.3) is a top tier scorer for the entire state and that is not in question, but he showed through the Sectional round at Bellmont that he can give the ball up and expose opposing weaknesses for the betterment of his team. They have come a long way from their 2-4 start when a lot of people were selling their stock in the Giants. Quran Howard and Rasheed Jones are tough to matchup with in the post, but Marion’s biggest asset outside of Blackmon is the raw energy of JK Thomas. Nobody on the court works hard than Thomas (15.2 points per game) and if he is hitting his jump shots, he will be a tough one to cool down.
They will play Angola in the 10 a.m. game.
At 11-1, they have the second best record against Class 3A teams left in the tournament. Dyer Ball, Luke Honer and Joel Knox are a tough trio to contend with around the basket. They have continued to be strong on first takes, but perhaps more importantly, they are great at cleaning up the garbage around the hoop with offensive rebounding that helps the Hornets take advantage of second and third opportunities. Against Marion, they will need to keep doing that as the Giants are, well…bigger, than the Hornets in ways. Yet, as Bounce has focused on all year, I think the Hornet success on Saturday morning and perhaps into the night relies on the perimeter defense that starts with Blake Pocock and Jack Hilyard.
TIPPECANOE VALLEY (15-9)
Two wins over Wawasee in two weeks highlight eight wins in their last nine games. Parkur Dalrymple averages 12 points per game and is a threat all around the court. Though he has shot more three pointers than two, Dalrymple can alter the game from different points.
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