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.
This is the stronger of the Class 3A sectionals in the area with the SAC champs, the ACAC tournament champs and plenty of strong teams and contenders the NE8 and NECC. The games at Garrett will be a lot of fun.
BISHOP LUERS (15-6)
The surprise SAC champions just have loads of momentum right now. They have built a great success story on proving people wrong and becoming a championship team. But they also have an edge and drive about them where they don’t want this to be a one and done title sequence. Replacing the scoring prowess and rim protection of Demarcus Hudson won’t be easy, but Luers is going to try and do that by community, as they have all season. John Peterson and Nick Thompson are going to be crucial pieces in this Sectional as the two of them will need to team up to replace Hudson’s output.
Naylon Thompson has a smoothness about him as a scorer and Jalen Causey is playing the best basketball overall of his career, which is saying something if you have watched Causey since his freshman season. A huge benefit for the Knights is that they can win close games; Luers is 10-3 in games decided by nine or less points. They’ve been great as the hunters this season, can they win as the hunted?
Blake Davison can dunk. Is that the whole preview? It is kind of cliche, but so true for Leo: when more than one guy really shows up in intensity and stat line, then Leo wins. Their Wednesday night game against Bishop Luers may really be for this Sectional title. The Lions are a hoard of knockdown shooters, starting with Davison and running through Carson Hart, Andrew Tkacz, Chase Bates and Eric Steger among others. And trust that if they get hot, you are in trouble. But what has really been a benefit is that Leo has learned to win without possibly hurting themselves with the three ball. DJ Allen and Zack Troyer are among the best inside duos in the area and Leo’s defense creating offense has made them a multifaceted threat.
Who is Angola in March? At their core, they remain a defensive stopping team that takes their time to get quality and intelligent looks on offense. Those two qualities have made for some low scoring games, but quality wins as well. Can they slow the top teams in this Sectional? It depends on how deep they are willing to dig and how consistent they can be after a losing streak at a bad time towards the end of the year. They righted the ship in the win column, can they keep straight. Joel Knox is a guy I see needing to play well this week on both ends of the floor.
The curious case of Woodlan has been a thing since the summer months. They are really good or…well, just not really good. They rose to the ACAC tournament title and almost a regular season title by playing aggressive defense and a willing offense. When they hesitate in those two areas and lack movement offensively, they are a completely different team. They come in on a three game skid, but at least should be able to start this Sectional with a ‘get right’ game. This has to be a ‘by committee’ effort headed by seniors Mitch Mendenhall and Aiden Baymen, to work with the double-double possibilities of sophomore Joe Reidy.
CONCORDIA LUTHERAN (10-11)
This is a really big senior class with guys who do know how to win, be it on the court or other fields of athletics at Concordia. So do not sleep on the Cadets to swing on to the finals from their side of the bracket. Brayden Pearson has been outstanding this season in big moments with some huge buzzer beaters. Pearson is going to do what he does but he is going to need to attack the basket too in this Sectional. If he does, the floor opens up for spread shooters and workers like Arnad Samardzic and Jeren Kindig and the Cadets chances get a lot better.
BISHOP DWENGER (6-16)
Speaking of a team to not sleep on, the Saints just beat Leo so you know that they can contend with the top teams in this Sectional. There hasn’t been a lot of time for Dwenger to find a smoothness that we’ve become accustomed to them having, but they are in a bit of a rebuild. Winners of three of their last five, don’t count them out of being able to make it to Saturday night’s final game on the back of Brenden Lytle.
The Railroaders are getting beat by 20+ points per game and have struggled this season. Being at home is some solace as there is hope they will have a crowd to feed off of. This is not a great year to be rebuilding with only two seniors since this is a fairly strong Sectional, even in the other teams with losing records.
Class 2A Sectional 22 at Garrett Schedule
Tuesday, March 3
Bishop Dwenger vs. Concordia Lutheran, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, March 4
Garrett vs. Woodlan, 6 p.m.
Leo vs. Bishop Luers, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 6
Angola vs. Bishop Dwenger/Concordia Lutheran, 6 p.m.
Garrett/Woodlan vs. Leo/Bishop Luers, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 7
Final, 7 p.m.
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