Throughout the weekend, 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, March 7 with a trophy.
We to Class 2A in Manchester with a rare eight team field and the arrival of defending Class 1A state champion Blackhawk Christian into the 2A postseason.
The Braves play against Class 2A opponents so sparingly that they will have to win more games in this Sectional for a title than they have played against Class 2A all season; those two wins were against Sectional foes Canterbury and Adams Central. Lets be blunt here, Blackhawk Christian is a pretty heavy favorite to win the Class 2A state title. Caleb Furst has been on one of the best runs of his high school career down the stretch of the season and is regularly making the extraordinary look routine.
Again, the Braves have a solid depth after replacing so many players from last years team. That depth and the bulk of different things they can do make the Braves hard to defend. They have the 13th best scoring average in the state, regardless of class because Furst pounds it inside, Marcus Davidson is one of the best pure shooters in the area and Zane Burke does a little of both. They are also all three high quality defenders, as are other regulars Callan Wood, Jake Boyer and Andrew McIntosh.
No disrespect meant when I saw there really aren’t true contenders in this Sectional, Blackhawk Christian is just that good. If there is one that has the best chance though, it is Wabash as they enter this Sectional due to some new alignments. Why? They have one of their county’s top scorers ever in Michigan-Dearborn commit Trenton Daughtry (14.6 points per game), who is a high IQ scorer even if his shooting is down this year. But Wabash also has size inside and size against Blackhawk Christian’s size is part of the battle you could at least neutralize. Senior Elijah Vander Velden is averaging 13.2 points 4.3 blocks and 9.1 rebounds per game, shoots the ball at a 52 percent success rate, stands 6-foot-8 had has a massive wingspan. It can’t hurt.
The defending Sectional champions and reigning ACAC champions have a battle in store here. They have some length and tenacity at the rim with Tanner Cooley and Hayden Nern, which again, can’t hurt. The Tigers are going to need Konner Norman to be a super steady hand and they are just going to have to knock down shots. Look for Harrison Schreiber to be important to the three ball game, as will Nern when he can hit and draw bigger defenders out.
Built much like Bluffton, South Adams will need to rely on an outside game to open up the paint this week. Trey Schoch is shooting very well right now, so he and Aidan Wanner will need to get going for the Starfires to have some chances. They are probably happen to open with rival Adams Central, but not so excited about what will wait for them on Friday.
The goal for the host team is to put their heads down and grind, but also keep their heads up and be ready to catch and score. Weston Hamby does such a great job of getting toward the rim and finding up guys, but they have to be ready and willing recipients. A secondary source of excitement outside of title runs, the first round battle between Hamby and summer time teammate Will Shank of Canterbury should be fun.
Canterbury has contended in a lot of games in a fairly solid season, but can they get over the hump for some consistency. Like everyone else in this bracket, why not play to get to Saturday and take a shot at the Braves. To do that, they will have to stay solid in tough games because the rest of this Sectional isn’t easy. It is a nice luxury for the Cavaliers that they haven’t had to rely on one heavy handed scorer. The ability for Shank, Holidey Stephenson and Noah Drapala to all take on different roles could keep opponents of balance.
“Congrats on being the team to welcome Blackhawk Christian to Class 2A” is not something that Whitko wanted to hear on selection Sunday. Yet, here they are with a young core that is certainly going to learn on opening night. Whitko’s best bet: get hot and feed the hot hand. They can knock down copious amounts of three pointers and Brett Sickafoose, William Rickerd and Drake Lewis will try to do just that. Whitko’s biggest issue may be the possible injury absence of sharpshooting senior Clayton Ebbinghouse.
The Flying Jets lack experience and that is hard to overcome even when you’ve gotten a full regular season under your belt. They have some added early incentive against their county rival, so don’t count them out of getting a postseason win. Can Ben Voirol be a dominant player in side for a couple of games this week?
Class 2A Sectional 36 at Manchester schedule
Tuesday, March 3
Wabash (16-4) vs. Bluffton (14-7), 6 p.m.
Manchester (9-11) vs. Canterbury (10-11), 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 4
Adams Central (9-12) vs. South Adams (10-10), 6 p.m.
Whitko (8-12) vs. Blackhawk Christian (19-3), 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 6
Wabash/Bluffton vs. Manchester/Canterbury, 6 p.m.
Adams Central/South Adams vs. Whitko/Blackhawk Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 7
Final, 7 p.m.
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