Oh the timelessness of the sectional draw.
The boys draw took place a couple of days ago with games beginning next week. It means debates have already raged about the favorites and the easiest and toughest roads to a title.
Thats why Bounce is here, not to project the winners and losers of the actual bracket, but instead who won out of last Sunday. Because, lets face it, there are always losers in the draw, a team or two that suffers from where they are. And alas, there are also winners.
Let’s take a look.
While East Noble presents an interesting set of challenges, the Bruins get to avoid Snider, North Side and home team DeKalb until the final. Their side of the bracket has teams that can’t run with them, even on their best day. This gives the Bruins the chance to gain really good footing going forward.
Should Coach Rod Chamble’s team get by East Noble, it will get a Carroll team that they just beat. That has to be enticing for a team that just went through a lot of turmoil. Jalen Jackson is a star and if Northrop can get some star performances out of other guys, next week could go very, very well.
The draw is hard to explain for Snider. On the surface, it isn’t a bad one. North Side will be down players for the rematch (North won the first meeting) and DeKalb looms having already lost to Snider in the host gym. This all points to Snider getting back to the sectional final and having a shot at winning a title. When you factor in that Snider has two top-tier players in a season where some teams don’t even have one, the Panthers have to have a lot of confidence heading into next week.
So why under the losers header? Consistency.
Snider upended Homestead in a big win in January, but have gone 6-5 since then with some sizable losses against out of area teams. North Side is a major question mark going forward after the ugliness from the brawl in the Northrop game. So what kind of mindset and even roster can we expect from North? Is Brauntae Johnson back? Is he full strength? Who is missing? It could be an easy road for Snider or it could be a very bad one.
WINNER: COLUMBIA CITY
The Eagles have won seven of eight and the fact they avoid Huntington North or Homestead until a potential final is huge. South Side is no slouch of a team at all in the opener, but what the Eagles have consistently proven down the stretch of the season is that they game plan really well.
Take for example the win over Leo on February 12: Coach Matt Schauss had a terrific plan and made quality adjustments on the fly to outmaneuver the Lions.
That isn’t a team that you can always just out think.
So expect more of that out of Schauss in March. He is a gamer and has found ways to get the absolute best out of his team this season. Columbia City is a low-key scary team heading into the postseason. And not having to worry about a Homestead rematch until the final is a major win along the road.
LOSER: NEW HAVEN
The bye to Friday is nice, but the reward isn’t. Jakar Williams was an absolute stud against Homestead the first time out and New Haven still lost. The Bulldogs looked great in big parts of a loss against Huntington North, but couldn’t find the way to control tempo when it mattered. So getting the winner of those two in Friday’s semifinal isn’t ideal. It is part of why Columbia City is a winner; New Haven would much rather find itself on the other side of the bracket.
New Haven needs to now consistently have something they haven’t a lot this season: depth beyond its top two. Williams and Darrion Brooks will be fine, but to beat Homestead or Huntington North it needs a lot more production.
Every team with a major shot at upending the defending two-time sectional champions is on the other side of the bracket. Does news get any better?
Leo has escaped both Concordia and Dwenger this season, but in very close games where the primary weapons on those squads had big impacts.
The Lions don’t want to see that again, so with the Cadets, Saints, Woodlan and host Garrett on the other side, it is ideal for a Leo team that doesn’t have the firepower of a season ago.
While it has been great to see players like Brody Hiteshew step up, Dwenger and Concordia have the guard play that can counter Leo pretty well. Those teams have to cannibalize each other to get a shot at Leo (should it beat Angola and Bishop Luers).
The Lions’ side of the bracket is 26-32 this season, including Leo’s 16-3 record. The other side is 41-43. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather take my chances with two teams that have a total of 10 victories over a top three with 36 wins between them.
WINNERS: CENTRAL NOBLE AND EASTSIDE
It is written in the stars: we will see this again.
So how do they both win? Because we won’t see this potential matchup until the finals and it will be well worth the drive to Westview.
Central Noble won the first meeting by 18 in the NECC Tournament final. Six days later, Eastside captured the regular season rematch by eight. It seems to be a trend in the NECC and this sectional: the best teams are prone to meet three times in the same season. We’ve seen it play out the last couple of years with Westview, Central Noble, Churubusco and even Prairie Heights. So let’s do it again as both of these schools will want this game bad.
Yes, Central Noble has the better draw with a rebuilding ‘Busco and a stingy but not quite there Prairie Heights squad. Eastside’s side has underrated Fairfield and Bremen and a sub-.500 Westview, but let’s be honest, it is still Westview at Westview with a ton of Yoders.
It isn’t a given that these two teams face off in the finals, but if they do we all win.
These opinions represent those of Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH
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