SECTIONAL DRAW SETS UP TOURNAMENT PATHS
Ink Free News / Sports on Sunday, February 23, 2020
INDIANAPOLIS – It’s like the day after Thanksgiving. All the anticipation of what’s to come and just needing a reason, and just needing to get there.
The IHSAA held its virtual Black Friday door buster just a few hours ago, announcing its brackets for the 110th IHSAA Boys Basketball state tournaments. Let the holidays officially begin.
Much has been made about how the draw would look at the Class 4-A tournament at the venerable North Side Gym in Elkhart. The sectional No. 4 features a streaking Northridge side, a pair of Elkhart schools looking to make a mark in their final seasons as separate programs, and a Warsaw team that has the ability to make a deep run seemingly every year.
Those questions are answered, with Northridge drawing Concord in the opening round of the tournament, the Raiders having won 11 straight coming into the final week of the regular season, the Minutemen having won just one game all season. The winner will get Elkhart Memorial in the semi-final, the Chargers drawing a bye and setting up a possible matchup of the top two teams in the Northern Lakes Conference.
In the bottom half of the pod is Penn and Elkhart Central, the two Northern Indiana Conference squads playing to a three-point Blazer win on Valentine’s Day. After them will be Goshen and Warsaw, a rematch of the Jan. 17 contest at Warsaw won by the Tigers by 10. The Tigers opened the season on fire, ripping out to an 8-1 start that included a quality win at Lake Central and home victories over Crown Point and Valparaiso. But the Tigers have fallen on tough times down the stretch, dropping five of its last six and seven of 10, including a lopsided loss Saturday night at home against Carmel. Goshen started 6-1, but has since leveled to a .500 team having dropped its last three.
In the Class 3-A Sectional No. 21 at NorthWood, the host Panthers avoided the extra game, and avoided both Valley and Wawasee until the final in drawing West Noble in the first semi-final. NorthWood is 4-0 against the sectional field, including an 11-point win over the Chargers at The Pit earlier in the month.
Tippecanoe Valley once again drew the short stick, getting to come out the first night and having to deal with Lakeland. The Vikings only intrasectional game to date was against NorthWood, which it was missing freshman sensation Paul Leasure, and have been up and down all season with its young roster. Wawasee, which is set to meet Valley in the regular season finale on Friday, will get the Valley-Lakeland winner in the second semi-final of the five-team grid.
Triton again serves as host of the Class 1-A Sectional 50 tournament, and got a favorable draw. The Trojans will get winless West Central in the first game of the six-team tournament, with a six-win LaCrosse team waiting for the winner in the semis. Triton, which is just 10-10 on the season, is 4-0 against the sectional field, yet didn’t see either West Central or LaCrosse in the regular season.
On the bottom half of the Triton grid is Argos, which is the only team with a winning record to date at 12-9. The Dragons will get a one-win Culver team, with Oregon-Davis readying for the winner of that contest. If chalk holds, Triton and Argos would rematch from last year’s tournament championship, won by the Dragons. Triton won this year’s matchup by three, 47-44, on Feb. 6.
Moving to Southern Wells and the Class 1-A Sectional No. 53 tourney, Lakeland Christian moves to the southern half of the northern state layout, along with Smith Academy. Both teams were previously with the Sectional No. 51 crew with the likes of Bethany Christian and Fremont, but have gone south for the winter.
LCA has just five wins on the season, but has as good of a shot as any of the six teams at Southern Wells. Southwood, at 8-12, has the best record on paper, and they are on the southern half of the bracket awaiting the winner of Smith Academy and Southern Wells. LCA has the bye on the other half, and will get either a six-win Northfield or five-win North Miami side, both teams finishing at the bottom of the Three Rivers Conference standings.
For a complete wrapup of all of the sectional draws and regalia, visit ihsaa.org
Looking ahead to the regional settings, in Class 4-A, the Elkhart winner will play the LaPorte champion in game one of the Michigan City four-teamer, with winners from Valpo and East Chicago playing in game two.
In Class 3-A, NorthWood’s champion will prepare a long drive, meeting the champion from Norwell all the way down at New Castle. Garrett and New Castle winners meet in game two.
In Class 1-A, Triton will continue to host and serve as regional location for Kouts and Fremont winners in game one, and Triton and Caston winners in game two. The other regional at Frankfort will have Southern Wells and Attica play in game one, Wes-Del and Blue River Valley champions in game two.
Northern semi-states are hosted by Lafayette Jeff and the venerable North Side Gym in Elkhart, and the IHSAA State Finals are set for March 28 at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.