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Doesn't get much better than sectional semifinalsPosted Thursday, February 28, 2008, at 5:13 PM
For fans of Indiana High School boys basketball, it doesn't get better than tomorrow -- the Friday night semifinals.
Although there are bigger stages of the tournament obviously, there is still no other night in prep sports like the sectional semifinals.
The gyms are usually close to capacity because you have four schools that still believe they have at least a puncher's chance of bringing home that elusive sectional hardware and software, if you include the nets.
Often times in at least one of the semifinal contests, you have two of the best teams playing and some games could be considered equivalent of a title bout.
A quick peek around the state finds some intriguing semifinals match-ups tonight. At Springs Valley, you will have 18-1 Orleans against 14-6 Northeast Dubois. Orleans won the regular-season meeting 67-57 at home.
The Tipton Sectional features Oak Hill (17-3) against Guerin Catholic, which has won 17 of 22 games. But the winner will have to likely face host Tipton, which will bring an 18-2 record into their semifinal contest against Eastern (Greentown).
At the Class 4A East Chicago Central Sectional, host Central (17-3) will face Munster, who has 16 wins in 21 games.
Host South Bend Clay and South Bend Washington both have won 16 games entering the sectional match-up tonight. Clay beat Washington during the regular season.
In Class 2A at North Montgomery, Danville (16-5) will take on the host Chargers (16-4) in one semifinal. North Montgomery lost 53-48 to Danville back on Jan. 11.
Also in 2A, Beech Grove will be on their home floor when they face Indianapolis Chatard (16-5) in a semifinal Friday. The host Hornets are 17-3. Those two have not met yet this season.
The Warren Central Sectional in Class 4A will have Indianapolis Cathedral (21-2) playing Lawrence North (16-5). This will be the first time they have played this year.
But I can't think of three more intriguing matches than we have at the two local sectionals.
Speaking of teams that haven't met, Bloomfield will play its first game in the Class 2A tournament at 7:30 p.m. tonight when the 12-9 Cardinals meet the 16-6 South Knox Spartans.
South Knox opened the North Knox Sectional with a hard-fought 52-44 over Eastern Greene Tuesday.
Bloomfield, which played in the Class A White River Valley Sectional in previous post-seasons since the class state tournament began in 1997-98, has had time to get over its bout with the flu.
But it could be a matter of rest vs. rust for the Cards, whose game with Barr-Reeve Feb. 22 was canceled. This means BHS will have 14 days between games. They last played on Feb. 15 when they beat North Knox 43-35 at home.
Even though the Cards and Spartans easily have the best two records in that sectional, don't forget that Linton-Stockton (5-14) will take on North Knox (6-16) in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. tonight.
The two teams played to a six-point game, with the Warriors winning 51-45, to begin the season. But I believe you can throw out that game when it comes to figuring out who will prevail. ┼ctually Linton-Stockton and North Knox both played Bloomfield to very close decisions earlier this season.
What this means is a squad with either six or seven wins will be in the title game, just 32 minutes away from a sectional championship.
"Bloomfield has played the tougher schedule even though South Knox has a slightly better record," said Linton-Stockton coach Darren Clayton, whose Miners will be looking for a spot in the championship game for the second time during his four-years at his alma mater. "The winner of that game would be the favorite, but us and North Knox are very capable of winning on a given night."
Bloomfield coach Ron McBride said that South Knox has been anointed the best team by the media, but that the other teams in the tournament have showed themselves to be competitive and could easily knock them off.
"It will come to whoever plays the best," said McBride. "We will have to play well.
"On paper, South Knox would be the favorite, but you don't play the games on paper. Any team in the tournament could upset them."
At White River Valley, you have the hottest team in the area -- Shakamak -- facing the host Wolverines for the third time this season.
The Lakers have won eight games in a row, including a 52-48 victory over WRV at Jasonville on Jan. 18. Shakamak (17-5) came back from the dead as they rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final five minutes to beat the Wolverines.
Back on Jan. 2, the Lakers defeated WRV 63-55 on the sectional court as the first step toward winning the Greene County Daily World Invitational.
The Wolverines have had a turnaround season and bring a 13-7 record into the semifinal match-up, which could be as entertaining as any game in the state.
Will the adage of beating a team three times in the same season come true or will the Lakers take a big step toward winning a seconds sectional title in three years?
The winner would still have play the winner of the Holy Cross vs. North Central game, which will is the second semifinal Friday at White River Valley.
Virtually everyone assumes that the 10-11 Thunderbirds, the defending champion at WRV, just have to punch their ticket to the title game, which is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the same time as the finale at North Knox.
Eastern Greene, who had lost to South Knox by 27 points and 35 points during two regular-season meetings, almost pulled off the upset as they trailed by just five points in the final two minutes before finishing with their 18th loss in 21 games.
Clayton, a 1985 Linton-Stockton graduate, said this is an exciting time of the year for coaches, players and fans. He added that the underdog always has a chance, like Paoli in last year's semifinals and the 6-19 Miner team in 1971.
"You can forget about records," he said. "Because whoever can put two good games together can win this sectional.
"We will bring up the fact that Paoli upset us in the bye game last year. We will talk about the Linton team in the 70s that won just two or three games in the regular season, but won the sectional. They forget about your record, if you win the sectional."
B.J. Hargis is sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at email@example.com.
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