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Finishing strong
Region Roundball Review

01/25/08 08:04 pm by RRR | Back


 
IHSAA TOURNAMENT PAIRINGS SHOW SET

For the first time, this year’s IHSAA basketball state tournament pairings shows will be broadcast live on radio and streamed in audio and video over the internet.

 

Matchups for the 33rd annual girls basketball state tournament will be drawn beginning at 7 pm Eastern (6 pm Central) on Sunday, January 27.

 

This year’s basketball pairings shows will not only be broadcast live on the IHSAA/Methodist Sports Medicine Championship Radio Network, but for the first time, video and audio of the shows will be streamed live at www.ihsaasports.org.

 

Upon conclusion of the 90-minute broadcasts, the complete draw will be placed on the IHSAA website at www.ihsaa.org and forwarded to state media outlets and member schools.

 

The girls tournament begins with sectionals the week of Monday, February 4. Regionals are Saturday, February 16, semi-states are Saturday, February 23, and the state finals on Saturday, March 1.

The slates will be wiped clean when tournament time rolls around. But that doesn't mean everything teams have done up to that point won't matter. While some bright jewels seem to be fading with season's end, some less-than-gleaming gems have been polishing up their act late in the season. In the first of four articles in a series, we cover the 4A teams that could prove to be spoilers for the sectional favorites.

 

Sectional 1 - Lake Central

Former Lake Central great Leslie (Rossa) Iwema experienced the Indians program in its heyday, when Iwema, Kristina Divjak, Denise Szany and Jessica Mitchuson brought home a state championship during a blinding snowstorm in 1994. She also watched as Kelly Komara, Kelly Kuhn and Lori Moore carried on the winning tradition of the LC program under head coach Tom Megyesi in the years that followed. So when Iwema picked up the lead reins for the Indians earlier this season, she was determined to bring back the cachet that was synonymous with Lake Central girls basketball in the '90s. It hasn't been anywhere near easy to begin that process. The Indians suffered through seven agonizing losses to start the season through the month of November. Iwema was calling upon her players to have some pride in their play and for the jerseys they wore on their backs. In early December, they responded with their first win in overtime against Crown Point. Since that time, Lake Central has won six of their last 10 games, but have faltered against Valparaiso and Merrillville in their last two outings. But guess what? Merrillville and Valparaiso will be duking it out in Sectional 2 while Lake Central will take on the role of dark horse in Sectional 1 against 15-2 favorite Highland. LC was humiliated by the Trojans in a 20-point loss in November, but they are a different team now. Riding out two tough games against Chesterton and Portage to close out LC's regular schedule could be the difference between making some waves or doing a belly flop when sectional play gets underway. But I'm sure Highland first year head coach Jeanette Gray has been keeping a close eye on the new and improved Indians. Photo courtesy of strempkagallery.com.

 

Sectional 7 - Lafayette Jeff

Head coach and Hall of Famer Jan Conner is an experienced warrior in IHSAA tournament battles and she completely understands the value of a strong finish. After a 5-7 start through the first half of the season, Conner has the Bronchos turning things around with a 5-2 record since the first of the new year.  One of those two losses was a one-point heartbreaker to Hamilton Southeastern on the road just last week. But being in it at the end against a quality opponent like the Royals is good stuff. The question is whether or not the Bronchos can put together the perfect game against sectional favorite Kokomo (13-5), who handled Jeff in a 16-point victory earlier this month. A lot will depend on how Jeff finishes out their regular slate, which includes Noblesville and Clinton Prairie, both with losing records. If the Broncs play down to their opponents' level or prove to themselves that they can dominate will carry a lot of meaning into the sectional schedule.

 

Sectional 8 - Greenfield-Central and Pendleton Heights

If either Donna Keck's Cougars of Greenfield-Central or Shari Doud's Arabians of Pendleton Heights have anything to say about it, Sectional 8 is definitely not a lock for favorite Connersville (17-2). Entering late December with a 7-4 record, an overtime consolation win against Huntington North in the Hall of Fame Classic seemed to be the turning point for Greenfield-Central, with only a loss to 2A power Heritage Christian putting a blemish on their last eight games. The Cougars will finish with games against 3A Muncie South (2-16) and 1A Morristown (5-12), which should have them rolling right into Sectional 8. Pendleton Heights, after a 4-3 start, has racked up 10 wins in their past 12 games, with one of those victories a solid 57-45 win over Greenfield-Central back in early December. The Arabians are 3-2 against sectional opponents, including a stunning 62-31 loss to sectional upstart Anderson in early November. But today's Arabians are not the Arabians of November, and with two probable wins against 3A New Palestine (7-11) and 2A Elwood (6-12) Pendleton Heights will be riding high in the saddle come February. Connersville better hope that these two teams with momentum are on the opposite side of the bracket.

 

Sectional 10 - Indianapolis Arlington

After a 4-6 start, the Golden Knights are threatening to spoil the party in Sectional 10 for several teams who might consider themselves strong contenders for a sectional championship. Lawrence North (15-3), North Central (13-4) and up-and-down Cathedral (10-9) are probably considered the frontrunners, but head coach Stephanie Keller has her team showing their winning ways with seven victories in their last nine outings. One of those losses was to 2A Heritage Christian (89-47) and the other to sectional foe Cathedral by one point. Home court advantage could go a long way for the Knights and all three sectional front-runners will be hoping to avoid a first-round matchup with Arlington. The Knights finish with 1-17 Manual next week, which should provide them an opportunity to fine-tune a few things before sectional play.

 

Sectional 11 - Perry Meridian

Sectional 11 has five teams with similar records entering the tournament season, but Franklin (13-6) and Greenwood (12-7) carry bragging rights as the top two at the current moment. However, who can deny the string of seven straight wins that Perry Meridian has put together since late December? After a bleak 4-6 start, head coach Mike Armstrong and his Falcons are feeling good about their chances in this sectional. Wins over tough Bloomington South (14-3) tonight and Roncalli (9-8) next week, would have the Falcons riding a wave of success that no one else in this sectional could match.

 

Sectional 12 - Avon

Can anyone really be Giant killers in this sectional? Ben Davis, with only one loss this season, is considered the all-out favorite in Sectional 12, as well as in the southern half of the state bracket. But then there is quietly improving 12-7 Avon, who will be hosting the sectional for the first time since 2003. Head coach Steve Drabyn endured some rocky games with his Orioles early in the season, including a triple-overtime loss to Brownsburg in the Hendricks County Tournament last November. Avon was 6-5 before gaining a consolation win in the Decatur Central tournament at the end of December. Since then, the Orioles have picked up six wins in their last eight outings, including a payback win over Brownsburg. But  can home court advantage really give Avon a chance against the Giants? Didn't seem to make a difference last week when Ben Davis invaded the nest and hatched a 29-point win over the Orioles. Avon will have to put together its best game of the year to have a chance.

 

Sectional 14 - Columbus East

The teams in this sectional are somewhat neck and neck, but Columbus East is putting its best stuff together toward the finish line. Head coach Danny Brown was probably glad to see Baby New Year in January, because after a 6-1 start, the Olympians dropped four games during a one month stretch. Since the second week in the new year, however, East has racked up five straight wins, including a huge five-point victory over sectional favorite Bloomington South (14-3). Games against tough Southwestern (Hanover) and Floyd Central complete the regular season for the Olympians, but running the table heading into the sectional schedule could go a long way for Columbus East on its home court come tournament time.

 

Sectional 15 - Good question... Seymour?

With all six teams in this sectional holding winning records, perhaps the title of dark horse doesn't apply to any one of them. But Beth DeVinney's 14-3 Seymour Owls might be considered the team with the most momentum. Seymour is 10-1 since early December, with only an 11-point loss to sectional opponent Jeffersonville (14-5) this month. A big game against sectional leader Bedford North Lawrence (13-4) looms at the end of the month and could make or break the Owls' confidence heading into sectional competition.

 

Other 4A teams riding the sectional dark horse with momentum:

Sectional 4 - Goshen

After a shaky 3-4 start to the season, the Redskins have been 8-3 in their last 11. Favorite Elkhart Memorial (16-4) will not be looking forward to facing a solid Goshen team on its home court during the tournament if the draw matches them up early.

 

Sectional 6 - Huntington North

It's been a turbulent season for the Vikings both on and off the court, but things seem to be coming together for Huntington North late in the season. With an 8-7 record through early January, the Vikes put together three straight wins before an OT loss to 14-4 New Castle and then a 64-31 drubbing by sectional favorite FW South (17-2). HN (11-9)  will have to finish strong against similar record opponents Muncie Central (9-9) and Columbia City (11-7) to make the most of their host status for Sectional 6.

 

Sectional 16 - Evansville Reitz

Five wins and two losses in January for the 7-10 Reitz Panthers could spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E for favorites Harrison and Castle. But tough games against IL Mount Carmel (20-6) and 3A Bosse (14-6) might put a damper on what has been a very good month for Reitz so far.


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