This Saturday represents arguably the best day all season of girls’ basketball – regionals. Four teams, three games, one title.
OTH is breaking down each regional involving area programs.
Up next is Class 3A.
Projected Winner: Benton Central
Outside of a surprising loss at University in mid-January, Benton Central has been perfect on the season. This team has experience, appearing in their fifth-consecutive regional round, having won a regional crown in both 2019 and 2020.
The Bison are an experienced, battle-hardened team that is led by a coach in David Baxter that has a track record of success. Upperclassmen litter the roster, from Courtney and Kennedy Tolen to guard Tressa Senesac and forward Carlee Musser.
The offense is solid, but defensively is where Benton Central truly shines. It has allowed 50 or more points just three times this year and averages 34 points allowed by contest.
Senior player you can’t miss: Taylor Gerke, Garrett
Well, you don’t WANT to miss her, and Garrett could definitely use her.
There is still hope that Gerke can play through injury and it is a day-by-day process with the senior who averages close to nine points per game. While not a prolific scorer, Gerke does so many things well, particularly around the basket, a place in which Benton Central thrives.
If both teams advance to the final, the Railroaders could definitely use Gerke’s services. But will the senior be able to go? And if she can, will it be a substantial amount of time in which to make a difference?
Don’t be surprised if: Bellmont pushes Benton Central in semis
Credit to Coach Andy Heim’s team for reaching the regional as most felt Norwell would be here. But the Braves held Norwell to nine second-half points and 33 total in a sectional victory.
Bellmont must play with that same defensive tenacity and confidence against Benton Central to have a shot to knock off the Bison in the morning game. While some may be looking ahead to a potential Benton Central-Garrett regional final, don’t count out Bellmont if that defense is on.
Hamilton Heights (18-5) vs. Garrett (25-1), 10 a.m.
Bellmont (17-8) vs. Benton Central (26-1), noon
Championship, 8 p.m.
Projected Winner: South Bend Washington
Washington enters this weekend having lost just two games to IHSAA foes this season – with both Homestead and Indianapolis North Central competing in 4A regionals on Saturday.
The offense of the Panthers is no joke, averaging over 68 points per game. A mix of youth and experience, Coach Steve Reynolds’ squad is paced by three double-digit scorers – a senior, junior and freshman. Seven players average five or more points, making Washington a deep squad on the offensive end.
Defensively, this group is allowing just a touch over 38 points per game.
A year ago, Washington advanced to the state title game before falling. It has eyes on more in 2022.
Senior player you can’t miss: Mila Reynolds, South Bend Washington
Reynolds is a huge problem. She averages over 22 points and eight rebounds a game. She can finish close to the hoop, she can handle physicality and she hits shots on the regular – shooting 60 percent from inside the three-point arc and 37 percent outside of it.
Opposing teams in this regional must find a way to keep Reynolds from taking over the game.
Don’t be surprised if: South Bend Washington rolls the field
Among 3A teams left in the postseason, the three lowest ranked in terms of Sagarin Ratings are Culver Academy, West Noble and Griffith, the three other teams in the field outside of South Bend Washington.
The Panthers are exceptional and to be challenged on Saturday they need to not play to their potential and an opponent to have one of its best games of the year.
West Noble (7-17) vs. Griffith (15-7), 10:30 a.m.
South Bend Washington (23-3) vs. Culver Academy (13-11), 12:30 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.