The regional that has produced that past three state runner up teams including Carmel just last season. They call it the “regional of death” for a Region and this year certainly is no exception.
Including Class 4A top ranked Carmel, the teams in this sectional are 59-15 against other 4A teams this season with Northrop having six losses against the class and Zionsville having five.
The top team in the top class, Carmel won this regional last season before going on to lose the state title game. They opened their season with a 66-61 win over, arguably, their biggest competition in this Regional in Zionsville and they will open Saturday up at 10 a.m. against Northrop. Future Butler Bulldog John Michael Mulloy gets a lot of attention because of his overwhelming size and status. Mulloy is tough. Very tough. People are going to want to avoid him at nearly all costs because of the potential of his defensive presence.
Mulloy is far from the only player to keep an eye on if you don’t know anything about the Greyhounds. Luke Heady is going to win at all costs and he is a kid who sets the tempo. A battle of he and Northrop’s Isaac Anderson in the morning game is going to be really fun. One will be able to bend this game in their team’s favor and the other is going to have to play catch up. I really like Andrew Owens, who played at a very high level over the summer and it propelled his high school season in great ways. He is another kid who’s aggression needs to be matched, which is not easy to do and he can be a great spark plug for the Carmel offensive effort.
Carmel has not lost since January 19 and that Brownsburg team that beat them has already seen their season come to a close. Ranked second in the most recent Sagarin ratings, with their strength of schedule ranked fourth in the state, Carmel picked up two quality wins and their victory over Hamilton Southeastern forced them to play inside and out. They have won five straight Sectional titles and nine overall Regional titles.
Fifth in the sagarin ratings, Zionsville returns to the Regional round this year and will look to get out of the morning game where they fell to North Side last season. This year, they will play Huntington North at noon. Isaiah Thompson, unsurprisingly, takes the lead with 23.2 points per game on 46 percent shooting but as Zionsville should expect everyone’s best effort on the speedster wing, Nathan Childress will continue to be a high percentage producer as well. Experience helps and a lot of this Zionsville team was in this position last year too while coach Shaun Busick has been to a state final so navigating the postseason isn’t new. They certainly do not want to bookend their season with Carmel.
Thompson will be a calming player, maybe better than anyone in this Sectional. He is a natural leader and has played in many big moments. 6-9 Hogan Orbaugh, 6-6 Childress and 6-5 Anthony Scales will give the Eagles a nice presence inside to keep teams at bay some, forcing perhaps more perimeter play where Thompson will get to set the pace of the game.
HUNTINGTON NORTH (22-4)
For Huntington North to be able to do what they did in their Sectional final without Hank Pulver taking a single shot was impressive. The Vikings are ranked 19th in the most recent Sagarin ratings because they have been able to beat almost anyone. Of the three teams in this state they have lost to, none are playing now.
They are good at picking their spots, showcased by the fact they shot less two pointers than three pointers in the win over Wayne. They know when to press and when to lay back and play that “Teagle ball” and it makes them strong, especially since everyone is on the same page with that. If they can match their Sectional final 8-of-13 from three point range and 17-of-22 from the free throw line, they will be able to compete Saturday. It helps that the town of Huntington is likely to turn Logansport into a home game.
The Bruins have the second worst record of remaining Class 4A teams because of their rough final few weeks. They lost 5 of their last 7 and all of their last three regular season games, twice faltering with the SAC title on the line. But lets be fair, after their outbursts during Sectional play, those losses are far in the past. Not convinced? The chameleon like approach of their team has been able to adjust to their opponents well.
We saw that in their slowdown game against Carroll last Tuesday and their ability to out speed East Noble int he championship. The secret is out regarding Isaac Anderson’s game that was critical to Northrop all year, but just now so overbearingly loud. When you combine Anderson’s grade A effort on both ends of the floor with Sydney Curry’s power and Qualen Pettus’ athleticism, the Bruins are playing their best basketball right now with their toughest opponent sitting in front of them.
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