OTR: 4A Sectional Preview

If North Central can repeat, they will put themselves toward the top of discussions involving the best basketball teams of all time. They’ll be the one group in the last 40 years of that discussion that didn’t really involve a dominant big man. Their sectional and regional paths are so strong, it’s not as if picking them to get through it all insinuates an easy task. However, last year only Noblesville challenged them, and that was in the regional championship game.

Draw information from John Harrell’s schedule site.

Sectional 1:
1. 8:00 pm Tue. Hammond Morton [7-13] vs. Highland [10-11]
2. 7:00 pm Wed. Gary West [11-10] vs. Munster [20-0]
3. 8:30 pm Wed. Lake Central [12-8] vs. Lowell [12-8]
4. 7:00 pm Fri. East Chicago Central [13-7] vs. Winner Game 1
5. 8:30 pm Fri. Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3
6. 8:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5

This group of Munster seniors, namely Joe Crisman (Loyola), Brian Stolarz, and Ricky Carbajal (Quincy), have won more than any group before them. They’ve also taken Munster further than any previous class. The only thing left is a title run. Never would a one loss season be so disappointing.

Lake Central has Glenn Robinson Jr., who is committed to Michigan, but they are likely a year away. Lowell has Austin Richie, the state’s second leading scorer and a Western Michigan recruit, and some nice size, but they really don’t feature much beyond Richie offensively.

East Chicago Central. Led by Jarrick Ware, they have the kind of quickness and experience that has given Munster groups in the past trouble. This current herd of Mustangs, however, has shown the ability to handle the pressure and control tempo.

The Pick: Munster

Sectional 2:
1. 7:00 pm Tue. Portage [8-13] vs. Merrillville [19-1]
2. 8:30 pm Tue. LaPorte [7-13] vs. Michigan City [11-9]
3. 7:00 pm Wed. Crown Point [17-3] vs. Hobart [2-18]
4. 8:30 pm Wed. Valparaiso [12-8] vs. Chesterton [2-18]
5. 7:00 pm Fri. Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
6. 8:30 pm Fri. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4
7. 8:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6

While Valpo could spoil the party, this is setting up nicely for a Merrillville vs. Crown Point championship game. Merrillville’s only loss is to the hands of Munster, and they are a perfect 14-0 in conference games. The Duneland plays home and home during the regular season.

We’ve written a lot about Merrillville throughout the year, Jeremiah Johnson, Brandon Clark and Edward Seay, but Crown Point has a D1 caliber guard in Spike Albrecht, a 6’1” senior, and the Navy bound Jared Smoot, a 6’9” center.

The Pick: Merrillville

Sectional 3:
1. 6:00 pm Tue. South Bend Clay [11-10] vs. Mishawaka [10-10]
2. 7:30 pm Tue. Penn [12-8] vs. South Bend Riley [15-5]
3. 6:00 pm Fri. South Bend Adams [4-16] vs. Winner Game 1
4. 7:30 pm Fri. South Bend Washington [14-6] vs. Winner Game 2
5. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4

South Bend Riley has seen the coming together of young and old. South Bend Washington has seen 6’5” junior Bo Calhoun step up this year, and they are defending sectional champ. Penn has been up and down all year, but they have won their last seven games.

The Pick: South Bend Washington

Sectional 4:
1. 6:00 pm Tue. Warsaw [18-4] vs. Concord [12-8]
2. 7:30 pm Tue. Elkhart Memorial [12-7] vs. Goshen [5-15]
3. 6:00 pm Fri. Northridge [7-13] vs. Winner Game 1
4. 7:30 pm Fri. Elkhart Central [12-10] vs. Winner Game 2
5. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4

Warsaw with Nic Moore is a strong favorite, but he has suffered a knee injury. Should that not hinder his time on the court, Warsaw will repeat. If it does, they are vulnerable, as much as they rely on him. Their first test in Concord brings in the kind of size that can cause Warsaw trouble in Jason Spriggs, 6’8” junior, and Franko House, 6’6” sophomore.

Elkhart Memorial lurks on Friday in the semi-final.

The Pick: Warsaw

Sectional 5:
1. 7:00 pm Tue. Fort Wayne Northrop [14-6] vs. Fort Wayne Snider [13-5]
2. 6:00 pm Fri. DeKalb [11-9] vs. East Noble [10-10]
3. 7:30 pm Fri. Carroll (Fort Wayne) [13-8] vs. Winner Game 1
4. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3

Carroll is such a force on the defensive end, it’s definitely going to make for a strong semi-final game on Friday night. Fort Wayne Northrop is a favorite coming through, with their dynamic sophomore guards, Bryson and Brenton Scott. Bryson is a Purdue recruit.

Carroll is led by Tyler Ault, a steady performer and a winner at any level. Snider was a school not affected by the coaching shuffle that took place in Fort Wayne last spring and summer. It shows. They have a core of seniors, led by Nick Lewis, that have performed well.

The Pick: Fort Wayne Northrop

Sectional 6:
1. 6:00 pm Tue. Jay County [14-6] vs. Huntington North [14-8]
2. 7:30 pm Tue. Fort Wayne North [9-9] vs. Marion [8-11]
3. 6:00 pm Fri. Homestead [14-5] vs. Winner Game 1
4. 7:30 pm Fri. Fort Wayne South [5-15] vs. Winner Game 2
5. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4

Jay County keeps plugging away, but they have yet to win a 4A sectional. Huntington North has been a pleasant surprise and enter the tournament on an eight game winning streak. Fort Wayne North has Antonio Wilson, a 6’8” senior forward, the best unsigned player in the class of 2011.

All in all, Homestead has the best mix of talent and schedule preparation. Zach Terrell, a 6’3” junior guard, is among the best guards in the area, and he has help up front.

The Pick: Homestead

Sectional 7:
1. 7:00 pm Tue. Harrison (West Lafayette) [13-8] vs. Kokomo [17-2]
2. 6:00 pm Fri. Logansport [8-12] vs. McCutcheon [7-14]
3. 7:30 pm Fri. Lafayette Jeff [11-10] vs. Winner Game 1
4. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3

Sort of a surprising year for Harrison behond Josh Withers and Zach Williams. Lafayette Jeff and Logansport both struggled. Kokomo is so strong behind DJ Ballentine, Huston Clark and Cheyse Swain. Ballentine is a 6’2” junior point guard, and there is depth among underclassmen. This year and next look bright for the Kats.

The Pick: Kokomo

Sectional 8:
1. 7:00 pm Tue. Muncie Central [13-7] vs. Richmond [17-5]
2. 6:00 pm Wed. Anderson [4-16] vs. Connersville [8-14]
3. 7:30 pm Wed. Greenfield-Central [9-11] vs. Pendleton Heights [16-5]
4. 6:00 pm Fri. New Castle [15-5] vs. Winner Game 1
5. 7:30 pm Fri. Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3
6. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5

The news that Kendall Waters isn’t playing basketball the rest of the year is a blow to Pendleton Heights. They still have the best player in the sectional in Butler recruit Kellen Dunham, but so much goes through Waters it has been an adjustment. They got the best possible draw, as the other top teams heading in are in the other half.

Muncie Central vs. Richmond is a great opening round match-up. The winner gets New Castle on New Castle’s home court. Richmond’s record is nice, but they no longer play a great 4A schedule outside of their conference games. Meanwhile, Muncie Central dips into the Indy area quite often. They play the toughest schedule by far among Sectional 8 teams.

The Pick: Pendleton Heights

Sectional 9:
1. 6:00 pm Tue. Noblesville [14-6] vs. Carmel [8-12]
2. 7:30 pm Tue. Zionsville [13-7] vs. Fishers [12-9]
3. 6:00 pm Fri. Westfield [7-12] vs. Winner Game 1
4. 7:30 pm Fri. Hamilton Southeastern [17-3] vs. Winner Game 2
5. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4

Of Carmel’s 12 losses, eight of them are by five points or less, but any hope that brings to thinking they can get over the hump, it’s quickly dampened by playing Noblesville at Noblesville. Noblesville only loss to a sectional foe was a one point OT loss to Hamilton Southeastern. They graduated four starters, returning 6’7” junior, Daniel Purvlicis, but they are still lurking at the top of the heap.

As much ink as Gary Harris and Zak Irvin deservedly get, sometimes they’ve gone as Randy Gregory has gone. Gregory is a 6’6” senior forward committed to play football at Purdue. HSE is a great defensive team, but Gregory is a great athlete who can make plays on both ends.

The Pick: Hamilton Southeastern

Sectional 10:
1. 7:00 pm Tue. Lawrence Central [13-9] vs. Warren Central [8-11]
2. 6:00 pm Wed. Indianapolis Arlington [4-15] vs. Lawrence North [10-10]
3. 7:30 pm Wed. Indianapolis Broad Ripple [20-2] vs. North Central (Indianapolis) [17-2]
4. 6:00 pm Fri. Indianapolis Cathedral [17-3] vs. Winner Game 1
5. 7:30 pm Fri. Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3
6. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5

This is the toughest sectional in the state. It’s not just about records, as these teams spend much of the year pounding on each other. Lawrence North is clearly down, but they have size in Michael Chandler, and they can guard.

North Central is the defending 4A state champ. They did it starting three sophomore, and they are 17-2 with four juniors in the starting lineup. They open with Broad Ripple, so isn’t much more star power than Ron Patterson vs. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Next year Broad Ripple will be a 2A school…scary.

Cathedral awaits the winner of Lawrence Central vs. Warren Central, and either way, their IU recruit, Colin Hartman, junior D1 prospect, Jared Drew, and two senior stars, Brandon Smith and Chandler Thomas, will face a team with a high major prospect, Jeremy Hollowell or Devin Davis.

Any questions?

The Pick: North Central

Sectional 11:
1. 7:00 pm Tue. Whiteland [9-11] vs. Franklin Central [15-5]
2. 6:00 pm Wed. Center Grove [18-4] vs. Franklin [2-18]
3. 7:30 pm Wed. Greenwood [6-15] vs. Perry Meridian [5-14]
4. 6:00 pm Fri. Southport [9-11] vs. Winner Game 1
5. 7:30 pm Fri. Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3
6. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5

The last few years, the team expected to win this sectional hasn’t. Never was that better illustrated than Southport beating Center Grove last year and having Perry Meridian defeating Franklin Central.

We’re back to those two teams being heavily favored again, but Southport (Kellon Thomas, Michael Ramey) and Perry (Max Landis) have great guards.

Franklin Central doesn’t have big names right now, which is just fine with Coach James. His son Kyle leads on the court with a senior core. Center Grove has Jonny Marlin (IPFW), Andy Smeathers (Butler) and Joe Reed, a 6’7” junior forward.

The Pick: Center Grove

Sectional 12:
1. 7:00 pm Tue. Avon [18-2] vs. Ben Davis [8-11]
2. 6:00 pm Wed. Indianapolis Manual [5-16] vs. Decatur Central [6-13]
3. 7:30 pm Wed. Brownsburg [9-11] vs. Pike [18-4]
4. 6:00 pm Fri. Indianapolis Tech [7-12] vs. Winner Game 1
5. 7:30 pm Fri. Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3
6. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5

Avon has had a brilliant year behind Austin Burgett, 6’9” junior forward committed to Notre Dame, and Kendall Griffin, 6’5” senior wing committed to Wright State, but there is a major road block…Ben Davis. Each of the last two years Ben Davis has beaten Avon in the opening round. Since being in the same sectional, Avon is 0-5 vs. Ben Davis in sectional play. While Avon did defeat Ben Davis during the regular season, 58-55, they were down 17 points at one point in the second half.

Ben Davis has a great deal of talent, led by Harry Wills, a 6’4” junior guard, but they are a tough team to gauge, both in terms of effort and just how together they sometimes play. Not to sound harsh, as they do play a brutal schedule.

Pike owns a six point win in 2OT over Avon and a nine point win over Ben Davis. Both wins took place in the first week of December. Avon has really flourished since then, and so has Pike. Marquis Teague gets our vote for Mr. Basketball. He has raised his teammate’s games, and he has locked in on both ends of the floor. Much of the credit is shared between his maturation and Coach Zych’s influence.

If these match-ups don’t excite you, the best prospect in the state, Trey Lyles is also in this sectional, playing for Tech.

The Pick: Avon

Sectional 13:
1. 6:00 pm Tue. Mooresville [11-9] vs. Terre Haute North [15-7]
2. 7:30 pm Tue. Northview [12-10] vs. Martinsville [13-7]
3. 6:00 pm Fri. Terre Haute South [12-9] vs. Winner Game 1
4. 7:30 pm Fri. Plainfield [6-14] vs. Winner Game 2
5. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4

It’s not that Terre Haute North is going to have a cake walk to win it…they won’t. It’s just that none of these teams really did much during the year to show they could win it. North’s guard play has been improved, and they have up front 6’9” forward Justin Gant, an Indiana State recruit

The Pick: Terre Haute North

Sectional 14:
1. 7:00 pm Tue. Columbus East [7-14] vs. East Central [16-6]
2. 6:00 pm Fri. Bloomington South [20-2] vs. Bloomington North [12-8]
3. 7:30 pm Fri. Columbus North [13-7] vs. Winner Game 1
4. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3

The only way South is going to lose is if North jumps up and bites them in the butt in the opening game. The last time I thought that, East Central skunked them. I don’t see the senior guards for South, Dee Davis and Spencer Turner, letting that happen again. They guard awfully well as a team too.

The Pick: Bloomington South

Sectional 15:
1. 6:00 pm Tue. Jeffersonville [13-7] vs. New Albany [13-7]
2. 7:30 pm Tue. Floyd Central [13-9] vs. Jennings County [19-3]
3. 6:00 pm Fri. Seymour [8-12] vs. Winner Game 1
4. 7:30 pm Fri. Bedford North Lawrence [18-2] vs. Winner Game 2
5. 7:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4

Ending the season on a 10 game winning streak. Undefeated vs. sectional foes. Undefeated in winning the Hoosier Hills Conference, not much can get better for Bedford North Lawrence this year than March success. Alex Pritchett is a key cog for this team, but his injury did a strange thing. They won without him, and in his return, they have kept him on the bench to start the game. His production has been the same, close to 19 points and 10 rebounds per game, now that he is healthy, but others have stepped up.

Ryan Burton and Braden Knight have been very effective for BNL. Burton is a 6’9” shooter, while Knight is a 6’2” shooting guard.

They also don’t have to face Jeff and New Albany. Those two square off in round one. Jeff has been disappointing this year, and New Albany suffered without Chris Whitehead to open the year with a football injury. Whitehead is back, and they took BNL to OT two weeks ago.

Jennings County has had a great year, but their losses have not been good, including big losses to Bedford and Jeff.

The Pick: Bedford North Lawrence

Sectional 16:
1. 8:00 pm Tue. Evansville North [7-13] vs. Castle [18-2]
2. 7:00 pm Fri. Evansville Central [8-12] vs. Evansville Reitz [13-8]
3. 8:30 pm Fri. Evansville Harrison [13-6] vs. Winner Game 1
4. 8:30 pm Sat. Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3

Evansville Harrison has gotten a great year out of freshman guard Ernie Duncan, but Castle is just too strong up front with Kyle Stutz, 6’8” senior center heading to Eastern Kentucky, and Blake Simmons, 6’5” sophomore forward. Their guard play has been solid too.

The Pick: Castle

Michigan City Regional:
Merrillville over Warsaw
Munster over South Bed Washington

Merrillville over Munster

Marion Regional:
Kokomo over Homestead
Fort Wayne Northrop over Pendleton Heights

Kokomo over Fort Wayne Northrop

Hinkle Regional:
North Central over Avon
Hamilton Southeastern over Center Grove

North Central over Hamilton Southeastern

Seymour Regional:
Bloomington South over Bedford North Lawrence
Castle over Terre Haute North

Bloomington South over Castle

Semi-state:
Merrillville over Kokomo
North Central over Bloomington South

Finals:
North Central over Merrillville

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