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Final Four fields set for Saturday
Region Roundball Review

02/21/10 10:17 pm by RRR | Back


The baskets are up, the bleachers are pushed back and the gym lights are out today while the echos of some exciting Regional games over the weekend still reverberate around the state. Just 16 teams in four classes are left standing, including all four No. 1 ICGSA teams: Ben Davis, Rushville, Winchester and Vincennes Rivet. Unranked upstarts 4A Fort Wayne Snider, 3A Griffith, 2A Winamac and 2A Luers defied the pollsters and their ranked opponents to make it to their respective Final Four slates.

 

The RRR made it out to the Valparaiso Regional to watch a very good Merrillville team hang on to get the Region's first 4A Final Four slot since 2005. Coach Amy Govert's calm and steady crew never panicked, even when they trailed by one point with just 14 seconds to go. After leading by 8 at the half, the Pirates saw their lead chipped away by the Chargers, only to lose it completely in the fourth. A valiant effort was made by Elkhart Memorial senior Jada Buggs (Wisconsin) and super soph Brionna Barnett as the two helped their team claw back into a position to win late in the game. Memorial was without junior leading scorer/rebounder and Michigan State recruit Akiyah Taylor, who suffered a knee injury late in the morning game against South Bend Clay. The 5'11 forward, who averages over 17 points and 9 rebounds per game and who verbally committed to MSU just last week, was sorely missed as she sat in street clothes with a large knee brace on the bench. A lot of whistles were blown throughout and late in the game, affecting the final score for both teams. The biggest basket of the night however was a trey from unflappable Merrillvile senior Bryonna Davis (right), who kept the Chargers at bay late in the fourth after they crept within one. Buggs nearly willed her team to the win by scoring 17 points in the second half, but an over the back call on the other end after a then game-leading Buggs traditional three-point play put unlikely hero Tracee Mitchell from Merillville at the line for the game-tying and -winning free throws. A 50 percent free throw shooter who bricked three freebies earlier in the game, Mitchell came up huge with two for two with three seconds to go, giving her team a one-point edge. Pirate soph Raveen Murray was also fabulous for the Regional champs, slashing her way through the Memorial defense for 20 points on the night to lead the winners, while Davis finished with 17. Buggs finished with 23 points, and Barnett tallied 22, including four treys in the first half. Photo from The Times.

 

IHSAA lineups for Saturday's games are as follows:

 

NORTH
1. Elkhart Central (Northside Gym)

Class 3A | Griffith (19-5) vs. Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran (22-3). 1 pm ET (12 noon CT)
Class 4A | Merrillville (24-1) vs. Fort Wayne Snider (16-7) following the 3A game


2. Warsaw Community
Class 1A | Fort Wayne Canterbury (23-2) vs. Turkey Run (20-5). 4 pm ET (3 pm CT)
Class 2A | Winamac (19-6) vs. Fort Wayne Bishop Luers (17-7) following the 1A game

SOUTH
3. Southport
Class 2A
| Winchester (25-0) vs. Austin (24-2). 4 pm ET (3 pm CT)
Class 4A
| Ben Davis (26-0) vs. Floyd Central (25-1) following the 2A game

4. Bedford North Lawrence
Class 1A | Waldron (22-3) vs. Vincennes Rivet (25-0). 1 pm ET (12 noon CT)
Class 3A | Rushville (24-2) vs. Evansville Memorial (23-3) following the 1A game

 

Brackets: 4A | 3A | 2A | 1A

Game preview facts from John Harrell

 

Notes of interest:

  • Uncharted Territory. This is the first Semi-State appearance for five of the 16 teams still left in the tournament. Merrillville, Turkey Run, Winchester, Floyd Central and Waldron are all first-time Final Four participants.
  • Early Exits. Two of the four defending state champions fell in regional play. 2009 3A state champion Fort Wayne Elmhurst fell in the early round, losing 49-42 to NorthWood, and 2A four-time state champ Heritage Christian fell in a 56-53 overtime thriller to Winchester in the championship round.
  • Summit sweep. The four semi-state teams on the East side of the Northern bracket all hail from Fort Wayne, the site of this year's state finals venue. It remains to be seen how many will make the next step. But like Dorothy knows, there's no place like home if they make it through.
  • Winning Streaks. Ben Davis is riding a 56-0 winning streak heading into Saturday's semi-state matchup with Floyd Central. Vincennes Rivet is undefeated this season at 25-0.
  • What are the odds? According to Jim Harrell's website, projected winners for Satruday's games are Merrillville (73%), Ben Davis (86%), Concordia (76%), Rushville (59%), Luers (81%), Austin (56%), Canterbury (78%) and Vincennes Rivet (85%). But as we all know, percentages don't take injuries, heart, guts and effort into account... which makes tournament time so much fun for fans!
  • Extra duty. Four of the 16 regional finals went to overtime, including Luers 69 over Wabash 67, Winchester 56 over Heritage Christian 53, Austin 67 over Evansville Mater Dei 59, and Waldron 58 over Jac-Cen-Del 53.
  • Heart attack kids. Six of the semi-state finalists won their championship games by five points or less. Snider won its two games by a total of three points on the day, while Luers walked away with two victories and a 5-point advantage combined for both games.
  • Road Warriors. Not a single team in the final 16 won a regional championship on its home court. Not a big surprise, however, since regional runner-up Jasper was the only host team still in the running on Saturday.
  • Double blind dates. Not a single team slated for Semi-State competition has played a common opponent of their challenger. Let the film search and exchange begin.
  • Movin' on up. With it's second consecutive Regional championship, Ben Davis ties Kokomo for the most regional championships (all time) in state history with 12 apiece. Luers solidifies its class regional championship tally with 8, with Ben Davis close behind with 6 in class play.

 

Regionals coverage:

 


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REGION ROUNDBALL REVIEW