Throughout the weekend and start of the week, your favorite amphibian is going to be checking in on the sectionals that will most interest our area teams and readers. The favorite team listed, well that is my pick to walk out of Saturday, February 8 with a trophy.
This field follows the typical format with two games on Tuesday to kick things off at Lakeland.
This isn’t a paper favorite at 21 wins, they have beat some really strong teams including Class 4A’s Warsaw and a couple of teams in this Sectional. They are strict with their rotation with their core five, all juniors and seniors, playing 24 or more minutes per game. They keep their core tight with seniors Kate Rulli (13.2 points/8 rebounds per game) and Maddy Payne (12.5 points/game) at the forefront. Fellow senior Karlie Fielstra is a solid pacing pass first guard.
They are beating teams by almost 15 points per game and have won 17 of their last 18 games.
CENTRAL NOBLE (13-8)
Not many people will have the Cougars as the top contender, but those people probably forget just how good Central Noble is in the postseason. This is up a class and without a couple of players from the pass, but the gutty play hasn’t changed. If the Cougars can limit opposing offenses, another Sectional title in a row isn’t out of question. Bridgette Gray (13.8 points per game) has done what was expected, Lydia Andrews has made her game more diverse and I enjoy the passion that Madi Vice plays with as a freshman.
The host team has a chance in this one. After losing 6 of their first 7 games, they have gone 13-2 and have just one loss since December 18. Junior Bailey Hartsough is a major weapon, arguing for her spot as the best play in this Sectional, but she isn’t alone. Beth Stroop is going to make some impact too in this tournament.
TIPPECANOE VALLEY (16-6)
A lot of people have the Vikings at the top of the contender list and I wouldn’t call that unfair. If they were able to upset NorthWood on opening night, that would open this thing up significantly. Junior Sydney Wagner is one of the best multipurpose players in this field averaging 17.2 points, 8 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 4.2 steals per game. She can really hurt you in a lot of ways.
WEST NOBLE (10-12)
The final run of retiring coach Dale Marano and the defending Sectional champions. They are a lot younger than last season, but Lilly Mast brings quality experience still and Jazmyn Smith, at her best, can score at multiple levels on the floor.
Not a bad season for the Warriors, but they don’t have one single girl who stands out offensively. They are pretty balanced for a young team, led by sophomore Emily Haines. They will need to rebound at a high rate to be able to compete; their leading rebounder comes in at less than five per game.
Sectional 30 at Lakeland Schedule
Tuesday, Feb. 4
Wawasee vs. Central Noble, 6 p.m.
NorthWood vs. Tippecanoe Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 7
Lakeland vs. Wawasee/Central Noble winner, 6 p.m.
West Noble vs. NorthWood/Tippecanoe Valley winner, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 8: Finals, 7:30 p.m.
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