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.
Things get started on Tuesday at Mississinewa with one game with two more games being played on Wednesday. The defending champions, Marion, are gone and now up in Class 4A. This is one of the area’s best Sectionals with every single team posting winning records this regular season.
After a letdown last season, the Knights have returned to title land this year as they stared the Northeast 8 crown. They have focused on getting there and now the only question is if they let up or speed up now that they have one. They would love to get back to a Sectional title level; they won seven in a row before being held away from the trophy in each of the last two seasons.
Maiah Shelton is playing the best basketball of her career and Kaylee Fuelling’s frantic pace on both sides of the floor have the Knights tough to keep up with. Norwell has the ability to also control this Sectional inside with three sizable advantages on the rebounding end besides Shelton. Breann Barger can contribute, while Hailey Henschen and Grace Bradtmueller add more depth inside that most teams could dream of.
If the Squaws rematch Norwell in the finals, then all bets are off. If you want to question this program, then you haven’t been paying attention to the post Grace Hunter era. Meghan Busick returned quickly from an ACL injury just as strong as she left and Kenzie McMahon is scary in the post and especially if she takes off on the break. Bellmont’s biggest strength though is their depth and Morgan Shifferly spent parts of the season as arguably the best player in the NE8. The Squaws have lost 3 of their last 5, but not bad losses and are holding opponents to just 31 points per game.
BISHOP LUERS (15-7)
Just three Knights have appeared in all 22 games and there lies part of their issues with consistency in wins and losses. Bishop Luers is led by Lydia Reimbold, arguably the best player in this Sectional, but they have four other girls (Dori Javins, Kennedy Glenn, Delaney Bailey and Janaiya Bright) who are capable of scoring in big loads too. One help by not being healthy in parts of the year is that they have a bench that is battle tested.
OAK HILL (15-7)
This team is a perennial power, but get a rebuild up in class 3A after winning the 2A state title last season. Taylor Westgate is a walking bucket and the Golden Eagles won 10 straight games in the middle of the season. Oak Hill coach Todd Law also won his 300th game this season. They have the chops to contend, but we don’t have them up there just yet.
Can the host team, under a first year head coach, string together enough wins to get through this Sectional? They have won no more than three games in a row all season. Riley McKee is their top player but sophomore Mia Katey may be one of the best rising talents in this field.
If you read our ACAC Tournament preview not so long ago, then lather, rinse and repeat for Heritage here. Bree Dossen recently surpassed 1,000 career points and the ball with go through her every trip that Heritage can help. The Patriots need help though and that could come in the form of Abby Sheehan, a 43 percent shooter from deep who has made 60 triples this season.
EASTERN (GREENTOWN) (13-9)
A senior laden team, Eastern relies a lot of McKenzie Cooper (15 points/game), but she shoots just 36 percent from the field. They have lost 6 of their last 8 so they fall in the bottom spot of this Sectional because of their complete lack of momentum right now, including a recent loss to Oak Hill.
Sectional 23 at Mississinewa Schedule
Tuesday, Feb. 4
Bishop Luers vs. Norwell, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 5
Bellmont vs. Eastern (Greentown), 6 p.m.
Heritage vs. Oak Hill, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 7
Mississinewa vs. Bishop Luers/Norwell winner, 6 p.m.
Bellmont/Eastern winner vs. Heritage/Oak Hill winner, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 8: Finals, 7:30 p.m.
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