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.
Anybody want to play the NECC all over again? In Class 2A at Westview, we will kind of get to do that with all four NECC juggernauts included in the field vying for a title featuring defending champion Westview.
There are two reasons that stand out more than others in making the Warriors the favorite: they are difficult to beat at home AND Charlie Yoder. Yoder has accomplished so many things this season, to the point that it would almost feel wrong is a Sectional title wasn’t included in that. He is going to go down as one of the best players that this area has ever seen. And his supporting cast has stepped up each moment along the way. Yes, two of Westview’s losses have come to teams in this field, but one of those has been avenged. As other teams have what we look at as more depth, the importance of players like Drew Litwiller, Blake Egli and Mason Yoder only grows.
And there is that home court advantage. Westview has lost more at home this year than you should become accustomed to. But the regular season and postseason are two different beasts. Topeka is a whole different world on game night and you can expect it to be turned up this coming week.
Winners of eight in a row, there is actually a more important stat in their win/loss record: they are 13-2 since Landen Jordan joined the lineup in January, so that 2-4 mark prior to that is a little deceiving. Churubusco is a completely different team with Jordan in the lineup because of his rim protection and really how it frees up everyone else to work around him. The Eagles did beat Westview (at Westview) without him though so don’t think it is anywhere near a one trick pony. This team has the talent and the legs to win this Sectional as long as they can keep their composure to finish close games, something they didn’t do in their two losses with Jordan in the lineup.
CENTRAL NOBLE (20-4)
This is actually the team with the best record against his Sectional (7-2) and Class 2A (10-2). So while Central Noble is listed outside of “contender” status, they are still very much a team that can win this and it wouldn’t surprise anyone. Essentially another NECC Tournament here and they won the first one. The Cougars also benefited from the Sectional draw. While I talked to star sophomore Connor Essegian earlier on draw day and his opinion was that they have to beat them all anyway so he didn’t care who they drew, the Cougars have to be happy with the fact that the other three NECC powerhouses have to cannibalize each other to get to them.
The Cougars can spread the floor with weapons too considering, in part, that Sawyer Yoder is the best player on almost any team. And yet, you still have to deal with Essegian, who at over 1,000 points in his young career, is going to end up Noble County’s most prolific scorer ever.
PRAIRIE HEIGHTS (18-5)
Call them the third contender in line behind Westview for us as they do own a victory over both NECC co-champions in Westview and Churubusco. Finishing fourth in this conference this year is no knock, this team is as dangerous as anyone else in this Sectional. Mike Perkins is a calming and intelligent force that works well with the chaotic and difficult to guard pace of Brandon Christlieb. And not many people can boast a guy like Elijah Malone in the post. When he can play in place and stay comfortable, he is tough from 15 feet and in. Chase Bachelor and Seth Troyer add steadiness on the perimeter.
While Fairfield was going to have to rebuild this season, the drop-off hasn’t been as significant as we maybe expected. Nolin Sharick has stepped up his game and is one of the best scorers in this Sectional. Owen Miller and Bryce Willard can be three point threats and Fairfield are going to need to have consistency in their shot to pull off some upsets.
Gabe Trevino has led this team in some quality wins this year, including against ACAC tournament champion Woodlan. This is a very young team, with just a couple of upperclassmen to contribute but they have played well. Owen Willard has been a stalwart on defense and Logan Fry has been able to play a major role too. When Eastside is at their best, they can go deep in their scoring.
This team is very young and it has shown more often than it has not. There is just one senior to contribute and Tony Hardin and Carson Miller have to handle the load as sophomores quite often. Not a great year for Bremen against a senior and scorer heavy Sectional.
Class 2A Sectional 35 at Westview Schedule
Tuesday, March 3
Prairie Heights vs. Westview, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, March 4
Bremen vs. Fairfield, 6 p.m.
Central Noble vs. Eastside, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 6
Churubusco vs. Prairie Heights/Westview, 6 p.m.
Bremen/Fairfield vs. Central Noble/Eastside, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 7
Final, 7 p.m.
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