This Saturday, regional play will take place across the state in boys basketball and our area has two teams each in classes 4A, 3A and 2A.

The IHSAA announced on Thursday that games will be played in front of just immediate families of participants due to the coronavirus outbreak.

At New Castle, a pair of Northeast 8 teams will represent northeast Indiana with Norwell facing off against NorthWood and Leo taking on Delta.

How will this regional play out? Let’s break it down.

FAVORITE

NORWELL (22-2)

The Knights find themselves in the regional round for the first time since 2014, and a youthful group enters the weekend as the favorites to pick up a pair of victories.

Coach Mike McBride’s job is to make sure his team made up of regional first-timers can handle the pressure of the moment and execute against two solid teams.

While senior Will Geiger is the centerpiece, the Knights showed last Saturday against Mississinewa that they can overcome and win if Geiger is off or battling foul trouble. Still, Geiger is the player in the lineup that commands the most respect and attention on the offensive end. His effectiveness dictates how defenses approach the rest of Norwell’s players on the floor, opening up opportunities for the perimeter shooters.

Two oft-overlooked players could play big roles on Saturday in senior Conner Torson and junior Eli Riley. Both play physical and confident and could be difference makers.

THE CONTENDERS

NORTHWOOD (18-6)

Uncertainty continues to dominate the storyline surrounding NorthWood heading into Saturday. Trent Edwards left last Saturday’s sectional championship game early and no comments were given to the media on his injury. Those in and around the program have been tight lipped throughout the week.

The Panthers are similar to Norwell in that they aren’t electrifying offensively, but do enough to win with the help of a solid, tough-minded defense. This group isn’t going to wow you, but it is going to execute at a high level.

Bounce feels that with a healthy Edwards, NorthWood can contend with Norwell. Without him, the Panthers will need a lot to go right to advance.

LEO (19-7)

An exciting week for the Lions, who are competing in regional action for the first time since 2002.

No one in this regional field has a better front line than Leo with sophomore D.J. Allen and junior Zack Troyer, a pair of 6-foot-5 forwards who are adept at blocking shots and altering offensive game plans.

Add Blake Davison at the guard spot and you have a dangerous inside-out threat to deal with on a team that is playing its best basketball of the season.

As good as the offense has been, defense could be key, with Leo allowing less than 50 points per game.

DELTA (20-4)

Coach Mark Detweiler’s team is back in a regional for the second straight year. A season ago, the Eagles were undefeated entering the playoffs and advanced into the night game on regional Saturday before falling to Marion.

Where teams like Leo and Norwell lack in experience and upperclassmen, Delta has plenty. Four of its top five scorers are seniors, with last year’s regional participation giving the roster an advantage on what to expect come Saturday, even with the odd circumstances of playing in an environment that will not have an abundance of fans.

Junior Brady Hunt (17.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg) is a force inside at 6-5, 205 and will be priority No. 1 for Leo with Allen and Troyer. Conner Bedwell (15.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg) is a slashing guard that can cause problems as well.

CLASS 3A NEW CASTLE REGIONAL SCHEDULE

MORNING (all times Eastern)

Norwell (22-2) vs. NorthWood (18-6), 10 a.m.

Delta (20-4) vs. Leo (19-7), noon

EVENING

Championship, 8 p.m.

 

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