Sectional play starts Tuesday
It's that time of the year.
The mecca of High School Basketball will hold services next week, with boys' sectional play starting in Indiana.
The brackets are done and the pairings are set. The only thing left is the basketball.
Greencastle will be playing in the six-team Class 3A Owen Valley Sectional 29, while South Putnam will host the seven-team Class 2A Sectional 45.
Those heading to South Putnam include North Putnam, Cloverdale, Tri-West, Monrovia, South Vermillion and Cascade.
Tri-West is probably the clear cut favorite in the South Putnam Sectional. The Bruins are currently ranked No. 3 in Class 2A, and have a sharp-shooting versatile guard in Tyler Bruce. They boast a 17-2 record, having defeated every team in the sectional except for South Vermillion, which they didn't face in the regular season.
It just so happens Tri-West faces South Vermillion in the first round Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Wildcats are currently 8-13, and face a tall task in the Bruins.
Cloverdale, which recently earned votes in the Top 10, might be considered the sleeper of the tourney. The Clovers are winners of four straight games and nine of their last 10. They recently defeated a tough Edgewood team and racked up 100 points against Rockville.
With senior guards Chase Haltom and Kyle McCammon leaving everything on the court, look for the Clovers to be dangerous. They play Monrovia Wednesday at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs are currently 2-18, and Cloverdale defeated them 90-53 earlier in the season.
If the Clovers win, they will move on to face Tri-West in the semifinals. Cloverdale lost to the Bruins, 73-69, in overtime earlier this season.
Although, personally, I really want to see Tri-West and Cloverdale play in this game, the best game of the tournament could turn out to be North Putnam and South Putnam battling Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The Eagles narrowly defeated the Cougars, 57-56, in a thriller earlier this month. A key matchup will likely be senior big-men Lee Fordice and Matt Hicks down low.
However, If Greg Chestnut and Drew Christy are hitting from outside, the Eagles are going to be hard to beat. Likewise, if Jake Mullis and Riley McGaughey hit their shots, the Cougars are going to be tough as well. The effectiveness of the inside-out game could be crucial to the outcome of the ball game.
Whoever wins will face Co-West Central Conference Champions Cascade Friday at 6 p.m. The Cougars lost to the Cadets, 64-46 earlier in the season, while the Eagles fell 52-41.
As for Greencastle, the Tiger Cubs play host Owen Valley Friday at 7:30 p.m. Like Tri-West in the South Putnam Sectional, Owen Valley may be the favorite of this tournament. Not only do the Patriots hold home court advantage, they also have a 17-4 record and a versatile high-flying guard in Harry Marshall.
Marshall is deadly to opposing defenses. He can beat you off the dribble, pull up for a deep jumper and most importantly, plays with a lot of heart.
Fellow guard Jared Maners is also a dangerous weapon, playing good on the ball defense and possessing a nice jumper.
Don't get me wrong, the Tiger Cubs definitely have a chance, they'll just have to play a really good basketball game.
I've seen Greencastle play unbelievable at times, knocking down outside shots, rebounding and playing good defense. But I've also seen the Tiger Cubs play pretty uninspired.
If Brennan Burks gets going down low, while Cal Gard and Erick Burgeson are hitting down shots, they'll be in good shape. If the Tiger Cubs can find a way to contain both Marshall and Maners, I don't see any reason why they can't win.
Whoever does win will be granted a spot in the championship Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Other teams in the Owen Valley Sectional include West Vigo, Sullivan, Brown County and Edgewood.
The Tiger Cubs are 1-2 against possible sectional opponents, having defeated Brown County and lost to both Sullivan and Edgewood. Along with Owen Valley, Edgewood can definitely be argued as the tournament favorite, boasting a 15-3 record.
Also, with the Mustangs neigboring Owen Valley, homecourt advantage could be null and void.