BOUNCE: Predicting area girls basketball Class 3A Sectional finals and champions

Garrett’s Bailey Kelham moves the ball during a December 20, 2022 game at Bishop Dwenger. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

Girls basketball’s regular season has come to an end and that means that Sectional play starts this week.

How far teams in the area may be able to go this season is yet to be seen. But what we do know is that champions will be crowned on Saturday night and Bounce is here to tell you who he thinks hoists those trophies, who they beat to win the hardware and how they got there in the first place.

Click here to find a complete list of the Sectional draw.


NorthWood is still a strong option here and coming off two big wins to end the regular season, they should swing by Wawasee on Tuesday and set up a fun game with Lakeland on Friday. The Lakers have not had the season that was expected as early as last summer, but they have made some waves still and are a dangerous team for almost anyone in this Sectional. Peyton Hartsough just surpassed 1,000 career points last week and she should add to her career this week too.

Fairfield is at home and they are comfortable there…well, they seem to be comfortable anywhere. One of the few area teams to reach 20 wins this season, the Falcons soared through the NECC and this is their reward time. Fairfield gets West Noble in a NECC matchup that shouldn’t see Brea Garber and company getting much resistance at all, setting the Falcons up for the final round on Saturday.

While Garber rightfully get so much praise, Kaylee Dillon and Morgan Gawthrop have been fantastic too. I won’t go as far as to say this is easy for Fairfield, but it probably won’t be hard.

FINAL PREDICTION: Fairfield beats Lakeland


The best team in this sectional is the only one with a bye until Friday, which actually means better games Tuesday and Wednesday. Woodlan will sit and wait, the projected winner of this Sectional by many teams. But if they get there, who gets there against them? That may be the biggest toss up in the area.

On Tuesday in the cage at Concordia, Heritage and Dwenger should be pretty balanced with my thinking Dwenger edges out the Patriots. Wednesday is really the big day with two games that could go any way and that is a lot of fun to think about. If you need a midweek Sectional look, go to Concordia and check out some really fun basketball games. Leo against the host Cadets was a surprising blowout in the regular season and don’t expect that again even if I do think Concordia takes the win again.

Lets focus for a minute on Garrett/Angola on Wednesday. For several years, this has been one of the best matchups in the area. And although both teams are down this season, they should still make for a balanced and competitive game. The winner of this gets the winner of Concordia/Leo on Friday and I’m just saying I don’t think Garrett’s Bailey Kelham is ready to be done yet, especially this close to being the best scorer in the history of the school.

Woodlan and Garrett in the finals makes the most sense to me. Kelham gets the record and Woodlan coach, Gary Cobb, on his way to retirement, gets his trophy.

FINAL PREDICTION: Woodlan beats Garrett


The prediction for this on John Harrell’s site is wild and I respect that website and the man behind it highly. But 74 percent for Norwell and just 15 percent for Bellmont with the season that the Braves have had?!

The reality here is Northwestern is ok but this is a two team race. Norwell, on Friday, with their bye will roll by the Peru/Maconaquah winner. And Bellmont should have no problem with Oak Hill on Wednesday and then again with, likely, Northwestern on Friday.

It makes the most sense too. Why would it be anything other than Bellmont versus Norwell for a title? The two teams have spent the better part of a decade to intrinsically intertwined. Just a couple of weeks ago, Norwell picked up a 46-43 win. These teams have ended each other’s seasons the last four years in a row and Bounce is going on a not too big limb to say the same thing happens in 2023.

The last time these two teams met, Norwell used a big third quarter, holding Bellmont to just six points, to capture enough of a lead that they could hold the Braves off in Decatur in a high scoring fourth quarter for both teams. Kennedy Fuelling, who just passed 1,000 career points, led the way with 25 points in the Knights win while Syndey Keane had 19 for Bellmont.

If the first game was a three point game, let’s call this one a two-point game in The Castle.

FINAL PREDICTION: Norwell beats Bellmont


Friday’s first semi final is the place where the most drama could occur as 17-win host Hamilton Heights gets the best of their first round bye and will await Jay County, who should improve to 23 wins against Centreville on Tuesday. Jay County has rolled by most everyone this season, but lost to Hamilton Heights in game two of the year, 45-44 in overtime. The rematch is highly anticipated and considering that they have won 21 games since then as of press time, Bounce thinks Jay County is more than ready for this rematch.

Frankton is going to get to the final on the other side of the bracket. They get 6-win Delta in the opening round and then will go to a semi final to play the winner of 0-win New Castle or 9-win Yorktown.

Jay County’s closest game other than that loss was a nine point win over Bellmont and they are beating opponents by an average of 30 points per game. While teams that we see playing tougher overall schedules get the love in the area, the Patriots are the most dominant area team against their schedule. They have the fourth best margin of victory in the entire state for a reason.

Gabi Bilbrey has been quietly solid for those who don’t pay enough attention to the ACAC. He 7.6 rebounds and 65 percent shooting lead the team as she sits behind Renna Schwieterman at 12.7 points per game. Oh, and Schwieterman? Don’t get me started. At 21.7 points per game, one of the best the ACAC has ever seen is also one of the absolute best players in this area regardless of class or conference.

Time for the Patriots to break through finally and win their first Sectional since 2006.

FINAL PREDICTION: Jay County beats Frankton

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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