We have a pair of area Sectionals in Class 2A, starting with the one held at Bluffton. And no surprise on who should be the favorite here despite a pretty high level and even level of play behind them.
The no brainer of no brainers. With all due respect to everyone else in this Sectional, the Braves are a top contender in 2A in the state for a reason. The last time they lost in the postseason was 2018’s semi state and there is a clear argument to be made that a healthy Frankie Davidson in that game means they win the state title then too.
The Braves are juggernauts and the postseason has been one they have owned since Caleb Furst took the court as a freshman. They also don’t lose to class 2A teams, virtually ever. Furst is a Mr. Basketball contender, so it is already normal for teams to be behind the Braves. But the cast that is beside him is so good too. Zane Burke has matched Furst nightly scoring most of the time and Marcus Davidson, also very seasoned, has been a thorn in the side of many teams himself.
Blackhawk Christian is the favorite to win the state title, so their odds in this Sectional are huge.
Best case scenario for South Adams is being on the other side of the bracket from Blackhawk Christian. The Starfires have had a banner season, capturing the ACAC Tournament title and being an eyelash away from the regular season crown if they had their full roster for an early season loss to Heritage.
In most seasons, South Adams sits in the best place to win a Sectional. This group has been playing together since they were freshmen, built for a run this year that couldn’t have predicted the success factor sending Blackhawk Christian to this Sectional. James Arnold, Trey Schoch and Aidan Wanner have all had big stretches of high profile scoring. This team can play at a high level inside and outside. A final with the Braves could be fun, but its always hard when the biggest “contender” has a low mathematical chance of actually winning the title. South Adams is a perfect 6-0 against teams in this Sectional, they just haven’t played Blackhawk Christian yet.
Arnold just surpassed 1,000 career points on Friday night. A major accomplishment when you realize he missed his entire sophomore season with an injury.
There has been an up and down run for Bluffton this season, who has struggled to be in the win column much in the second half of the season after a pretty stellar start. They have some solid young pieces, including Harrison Schreiber, who is long and athletic. Senior Hayden Nern is averaging over 20 points per game and has a big combination of great scoring games and struggles shooting the ball. Bluffton gets Blackhawk Christian out of the gate and that is a tough tough draw for a team that needs a little stronger scoring hierarchy.
Quietly, Whitko has had a pretty successful season with 14 wins for the first time in four years. Brett Sickafoose is a real fire starter on offense and can hurt you in a lot of ways. Sickafoose is averaging 17.4 points per game at a 46 percent success rate shooting the ball. The Wildcats lean heavily on both he and Drake Lewis with this solid senior class. They are another team that could make things very interesting in a none Blackhawk Christian led Sectional.
Also of note, Whitko coach Chris Benedict makes his way back to his former home of Bluffton for this Sectional. Would have been fun to see him against his former team. But ya know, Blackhawk Christian.
The Squires have a lot of fight in them and come in as one of four teams with winning records in this Sectional. Weston Hamby is their go to leader, who broke 1,000 career points this season. But the Squires have found success by having more ready scoring behind him including fellow senior Max Carter’s 16.9 points per game. Sophomore Maddox Zolman is going to be solid into the future for Manchester.
Missing Will Shank for most of the season has really effected the Cavalier win/loss record. But it also strengthened a lot of guys to have to make the most of their own games. Now that Shank is back, the Cavaliers have looked much better and a recent overtime loss to Northrop showcased that. Chris Diwis is a solid threat inside and freshman Devon Lewis has really been forced to perform at a high level throughout this season and, at 10.4 points per game, has answered the call well.
Ethan Poling is a major double double threat and is coming out of a recent loss to South Adams, which was a really good performance against a team that controls the interior. Ethan Brown and Brayden Yergler can both knock down the outside shot and will look for more consistency from that range.
Wabash is trying to figure out a scoring hierarchy still as they haven’t put a ton of points on the scoreboard. Senior Joe Leland’s 12.6 points per game leads the way as Wabash shoots just 38 percent from the field. For them to make any waves in this Sectional, they will need an uptick in their consistency.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Zane Burke, Blackhawk Christian: Everyone and I mean everyone is going to key on Caleb Furst. It has become a trend and Furst still gets his but Burke has proven to be one of the most significant and consistent scorers in the area this season around all of that. Teams just don’t slow Burke and that is a big problem for everyone in this Sectional.
Trey Schoch, South Adams: There are a lot of guys who step up big for South Adams, but Schoch brings a unique fire to how he plays. He’s a solid shooter, is getting to the rim better but his emotion and energy is a big key.
Weston Hamby, Manchester: We can’t let the final postseason run of Hamby’s career go without putting an emphasis on him again. If you’ve never seen Hamby play before, try to go to Bluffton this coming week. He is just a kid who never stops going, never stops moving no matter the role he is filling.
Will Shank, Canterbury: Shank recently passed 1,000 career points and that is something an injury early in the season probably put into question. He is a high level scorer, one of the best that Canterbury has ever seen. Though Canterbury’s record is a Sectional worst, Shank’s return could really through some pre-finals games into a loop.
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