Boys 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.
CLASS 3A NORTHWOOD SECTIONAL
This Sectional has two monstrous juggernauts and they, thankfully, are on opposite of the bracket. NorthWood has been a menace all season, sitting at 21-2 with zero losses this calendar year. They sit on the top end of the bracket and have to play a Tuesday game that shouldn’t be a problem for them to get to a semi final opposite Fairfield on Friday.
Here is a catch that may or may not matter come Friday’s semi final round: how much momentum does Fairfield as a school bring in after their girls won a state title. Sure, on the surface that doesn’t seem like it should matter, but c’mon there has to be some momentum there for the Falcons. They play well with some aggression and Alex Hofer and Tyson Frey can play well physically. The NLC champions NorthWood, led by Cade Brenner are going to be a force no matter what.
It leads to a hopeful final against a West Noble team that recently took a surprise loss, but maybe a perfectly timed one to refocus them for a tough postseason. Austin Cripe is and remains one of the best players in Northeast Indiana and the way that Bradyn Barth has broken out this season has been astonishing and a difference maker for the Chargers. Lakeland is not going to be an easy out on Friday night in the battle of NECC teams, but West Noble seems to be just built different.
Its easy to think we will get the expected final on Saturday night.
FINAL PREDICTION: NorthWood beats West Noble
CLASS 3A GARRETT SECTIONAL
Here is a crapshoot for you. While we feel like there is a favorite to win the Sectional title and the top teams, as we see them, are all on one side, this is not a Sectional where you can feel completely comfortable about predicting. Anyone can come out of the top half and almost anyone can come out of the bottom half too.
Up top, we get Bishop Dwenger and Angola on Tuesday and they are two teams who have had just so-so seasons but really impressive wins along the way with Dwenger beating Blackhawk Christian and Angola beating West Noble in recent weeks. That makes both of these teams dangerous in a tight tournament week. To me Caleb Lehrman is the difference maker for the Saints and it gets them to a Friday semi final. In that semi final, it is hard to not see Heritage getting by the Saints if they are playing at their best.
The Patriots have the size to contend with Dwenger pretty well and they come in with one of the best scorers in the area in Luke Saylor. With how well I just watched Heritage play at New Haven, there is confidence here that they could make some waves behind Saylor, Kobe Meyer and Niles Knapke.
On the bottom half is the favorite in Concordia, but weirder things have happened than a favorite going down in Garrett. The Cadets draw Leo on Wednesday and while they have a win over the defending Sectional champions, its not a gimme for Concordia. This is a really fun game when you look at Ajani Washington/Cole Hayworth versus Jackson McGee/Trey Hiteshew. But neither team stops their depth there and it could really come down to a game inside where Concordia can work really well from 15 feet in and we’ve seen Brock Schott and Eli Lagrange show off strength at times for Leo.
The winner gets the winner of host Garrett and Woodlan. And no disrespect to the Railroaders because they can get really hot shooting on the hands of guys like Kyle Smith and Drayton Myers, but Woodlan has kind of been overlooked in this whole conversation. The Warriors have won 18 games and were arguably the best team in the ACAC a lot of the time despite not winning any titles this season. What Trey Yoder does this week could be a big guiding light for how Woodlan does this week.
FINAL PREDICTION: Concordia beats Heritage
CLASS 3A PERU SECTIONAL
Peru and Mississinewa open up play on Tuesday with the winner getting to play Oak Hill on Friday in the semi final. Congrats?
Oak Hill doesn’t lose. They sit at 20-2 and win by an average of around 15 points per game. Landon Biegel is a force on both sides of the ball, leading Oak Hill in scoring (23.3 points), rebounds (6.4) and steals (2.7). But they also have two other guys scoring double digits per game. It is a danger zone to have to play Oak Hill in this Sectional, unless you are…..
Norwell heads up the bottom of the bracket and coming off a stellar senior night where they: 1) beat old rival Homestead, 2) Hit 20 wins and 3) saw Luke McBride become the program’s all-time leading scorer. So as much as teams don’t want to face Oak Hill, they also don’t want to face Norwell.
That will be Northwestern’s task on Wednesday with Bellmont and Maconaquah facing off in the opposing game. Geographical bias may have me leaning towards the Braves in that one as Bellmont is coming off a good back half of the season. But a chance to play Norwell in the semi final on Saturday isn’t something super exciting for anyone.
This one though is another Sectional with two really powerful teams on opposite ends of the bracket and it is easy to think that we will get power versus power for the title on Saturday night.
FINAL PREDICTION: Norwell beats Oak Hill
CLASS 3A NEW CASTLE SECTIONAL
This is a two team race and no offense to the others but Yorktown and Delta are both strong teams who have fought through tough schedules all season.
The only area team in this Sectional is Jay County and the co-ACAC champions will start off on Wednesday with a game against Frankton. The Patriots became co-conference champions but still have a below .500 record. So the question is, how much did the mid-level ACAC push Jay County? They lost three of their last four games of the regular season, but did close out with a win over a solid Bellmont team and that has to pump the Patriots up a bit.
In that game, the Patriots played great defense down the stretch, culminating in a Josh Dowlen steal and Dusty Pearson dunk. Jay County can play deep and that makes them dangerous, but do they have enough strength to push through this entire Sectional? The Patriots beat Frankton on Wednesday, but can they beat a probable Yorktown opponent or even a home playing New Castle? That’s a tough beat for the Patriots.
FINAL PREDICTION: Yorktown beats Delta
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