With the changes to the tournament by the IHSAA, just a single victory is needed to win a regional championship.
Gone are the morning semifinal games to try and win a regional title at night. Instead, each site is host to two games on the day where two different regional champions will be named. Those two teams will advance to a now-four-team semistate in which the matchups are randomly drawn.
Who has a shot to win a regional crown in 4A? Bounce takes a look.
CLASS 4A AT LOGANSPORT
Kokomo (21-4) vs. North Side (16-9)
Congratulations to the Legends, who just three years ago won a single game under Coach Gary Andrews as he looked to rebuild the program.
North is back to where it is used to being as one of the top programs in the area. Unfortunately, it has a huge challenge coming up on Saturday…literally.
Junior Flory Bidunga is a 6-foot-9 monster in the post. Rated a five-star prospect by 247Sports and the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2024, Bidunga is a formidable foe that the Legends will have to deal with on both ends of the floor.
Bidunga averages 20 points and 13.5 rebounds a game, but is far from the only threat for the ‘Kats. Shayne Spear, Patrick Hardimon and Zavion Bellamy are a trio of seniors that are multi-faceted players who can score, rebound and dish.
Kokomo enters the regional with 14-consecutive victories, which includes a 34-point demolition of Marion in the sectional final last Saturday.
How good have the ‘Kats been against local foes? They beat Bishop Luers by 27 points, Northrop by 28 points and Huntington North by 36 points.
North Side’s best (only?) shot on Saturday will be if it can be extremely hot on the offensive end. Kokomo allows 48 points per contest, but the Legends have to score upwards of 65-plus to have a chance to pull the upset. BOUNCE PICKS KOKOMO
Wayne (20-4) vs. Noblesville (19-6)
Noblesville is a battle-tested squad coming out of the Hoosier Crossroads, and knocked off a pair of really good squads in Westfield and Zionsville to capture a sectional crown.
The Millers are incredibly stingy defensively, surrendering just a touch over 45 points a game. It is very much a success by committee situation, with senior forward Luke Almodovar the leading scorer and guard Aaron Fine running the offense as a junior. However, no player averages more than five rebounds a game. This team is deep and talented.
For Wayne, it once again proved it can play wise beyond its years with the patience needed to knock off both South Side and Homestead in close games in the 50s last weekend. Might this be another one of those games?
The Generals were exceptional in their defense last week. Make no mistake, while Jevon Lewis Jr.’s last-second bucket to beat the Spartans got the most pub, Coach Byron Pickens’ team advanced to regionals on the back of its defense.
Can Wayne continue that tenacious play on the defensive end? Will the youngsters continue to play poised and confident deeper into the tournament? If the answers are both yes, Wayne can win a regional title for the first time since 1981. BOUNCE PICKS WAYNE
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