The semi state round is upon us and it looks a bit different this season. No more one and done on semi state Saturday as the round has now taken the shape that Regionals used to be.
While our three area schools each had to win just one game last Saturday to capture a second postseason title, they will all have to win two games in a single day this week to reach Gainbridge Fieldhouse and a state title game.
That will be no easy task for any of them.
CLASS 4A AT MICHIGAN CITY
Wayne found yet another way to triumph late last week, topping Noblesville and kind of unsurprisingly, Jevon Lewis had his hand in that.
The Generals find ways to win and that is one of the most intriguing storylines to follow into this weekend. Wayne wins. With their backs up agains the wall, they win. That is something that has been developed and cultivated through the season. You can look back at an early loss to Fremont as perhaps being the catalyst for that. Fremont did everything right, but Wayne still nearly came back and won. Since then, they haven’t “gotten close,” they’ve just pushed through. There is a depth where you don’t know which direction they will hit you as Lewis, Chase Barnes and Preston Comer have been the big leaders the last two weeks but guys like Monte Smith and HJ Dillard and capable of monster performances literally any time.
Across from them in the morning is Kokomo, a team that just. dispatched a North Side team that did beat Wayne this season. But North Side also opened some doors that Wayne could perhaps crash through. The Generals are going to need to knock down shots and they are fully capable but they are also going to have to make things uncomfortable for junior big man Flory Bidunga in the post. That is easier said than done as he averages 19.7 points, 13.4 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game. Limit Bidunga and we have ourselves a game.
Should Wayne win in the morning, they’d likely find Penn at night with the Kingsmen overwhelming favorites over Hammond Central and likely the current favorite to win the whole thing in Class 4A. Markus Burton has been too tough to handle for any guard in this state this season and slowing him would have to be a whole group project. He is strong, he is experienced and he just takes care of business. Penn is a six senior deep team who was built for this very postseason run.
I’m feeling something in the morning, riding with the feel good story. But Penn may be just too strong.
BOUNCE PICKS: Wayne to beat Kokomo in the morning, but fall in the semi state final to Penn
CLASS 3A AT ELKHART
Bishop Dwenger can win. If its one game of focus, they can win. And they prove it time and time again, even as a 13-13 team heading into this weekend.
Matt Kostoff coached teams always get stronger in the second half. Call it a scheduling thing, call it a conditioning thing, call it a group of guys who are less fatigued coming off football season a lot of the time. Whatever it is, Bishop Dwenger has long had a better it factor in January, February and March. Just this season, they beat Blackhawk Christian during that time and really opened up the confidence that they need to make this run. Their seven game winning streak is the best of the season for Dwenger and they are 12-5 in 2023.
In winning their first Regional since 2015 last season, Dwenger was led by Preston Ross playing his best basketball as one of the more under appreciated top players in the SAC. He is averaging 21 points, 11 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in the post season and hit 11 of 15 shots in the Regional win over Twin Lakes. Combined with junior Caleb Lehrman in the post, Ross can be scary. Sam Campbell continues to be a huge asset as a leader on the wing and after his Sectional winning moment, an opposing team should probably be paying bigger attention to Aslan Nolan.
That said, the Saints got their worst possible draw with NorthWood. The Panthers are, without a doubt, the HEAVY favorites to win the state title. There probably isn’t a team in the state in any class that is considered more likely to win state.
This is a hungry team that won their Regional title game by almost 40 points. Senior Cade Brenner has been a constant problem for any team that matches up with the Panthers and he has led them to 17 straight wins coming into the weekend. This is a team that outscored West Noble 34-7 in the second half just two weeks ago to win a Sectional title.
BOUNCE PICKS: NorthWood to get by Bishop Dwenger in the morning and then toy with John Glenn or Delta in route to a semi state title
CLASS 2A AT LOGANSPORT
Not the most favorable matchup for Blackhawk Christian as they return to the semi state round, but not the most unreasonable either.
Where there are storybook seasons in such different ways for both Wayne and Bishop Dwenger, it is kind of poetic that the Braves are back on a major state stage in the first season with Matt Roth on the sidelines. The Braves have been able to really balance historical relevance from the Marc Davidson era with Roth’s expectations, style and tempo. It is odd because there has to be a bit of a feeling that they’ve flown under the radar, yet here they are again in this familiar place.
Kellen Pickett has proven to be among the best big men in the northern half of the state, averaging 13.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and Gage Sefton has been everything we knew he could be with 16.2 points and 5.8 assists per contest. Where Blackhawk has really been pushed over the top is by Josh Furst’s breakout season. As strong as he has been in the past, Furst has been special this year while leading the Braves with 18.9 points per game.
Inside, it is hard to matchup with BOTH Furst and Pickett.
Like Blackhawk, Gary 21st Century is a team with solid depth and a high level of play up front. Their top three all average between 14.9 and 16.4 points per game and they senior laden. They are going to go to battle inside with Furst and Pickett and may give them their best interior test of the season. Gary averages 41.3 rebounds per game and 35 of those come from sophomore Lemetrius Williams (13.7), senior DJ Moss (11.3) and senior Quintin Floyd (10).
If Blackhawk is to win in the morning, they will get semi state favorite Wapahani at night in Logansport. Led by well rounded Isaac Andrews and Aidan Franks, this team shoots 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from three point range. Andrews shoots 39 percent from deep himself with a team high. 63 threes and he also shoots at an 88 percent clip from the foul line.
BOUNCE PICKS: Something about this Blackhawk Christian team. They have an easier than expected time in the morning, beating Gary 21st Century. And then at night, lets call in the upset. Blackhawk Christian beats Wapahani and returns to the state title game
Be the first to comment