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Hoosier Hysteria starts tonightPosted Monday, March 1, 2010, at 3:30 PM
With the exception of nine-team Class A Sectional 59 at Indianapolis Attucks that started Monday night, the 100th edition of Indiana High School boys basketball state tournament, otherwise known as Hoosier Hysteria, begins Tuesday at 63 other sectional venues across the great state of Indiana.
Locally, Linton-Stockton will face host North Knox in the 2A affair in Knox County while Shakamak will meet Union (Dugger) at 7 p.m. tonight at the Class A White River Valley Sectional.
The other three area teams drew byes and will not play until Friday, when WRV will meet the Shakamak-Union winner and Eastern Greene and Bloomfield will face off in the Class 2A semifinals.
"We are looking forward to it," said Eastern Greene coach Andy Igel. "Like all of the teams are.
"It is pretty special to think this is the 100th state tournament. Hoosier Hysteria is alive and well."
Igel said that fans, players and coach are ready for postseason hoops.
"I think everybody in Indiana looks forward to this time of the year," he said. "It is fun.
"Everybody hopes they can be standing on that ladder (cutting down the nets) on Saturday night. That is the ultimate goal for sure."
Who will be left standing, with smiles on their faces at the end, at North Knox and WRV, is anybody's guess.
Although I will not make a prediction, you only make people mad I have learned, we can ponder a few points and potential match-ups.
The only prediction I will venture is that a favorite will get knocked off somewhere in Indiana during the next five nights. Whether it was Pike Central's win over Vincennes Lincoln, Vincennes Rivet reversing an double-figure loss against Sullivan, or Linton-Stockton's 6-19 1971 team cutting down the sectional nets at Switz City 39 years ago, history teaches us the best team or the favorite does not always prevail.
Igel's Thunderbirds have the best record at North Knox, winning 13 of 21 games during the regular season. But South Knox (11-10) owns a victory (67-56) over Eastern Greene in February.
"I would think that South Knox has to be considered the favorite," said Igel. "They beat us head to head."
Linton-Stockton coach Darren Clayton said he thought the T-Birds and Spartans would be considered co-favorites.
"The fact remains that South Knox beat us by 11 earlier," said Igel. "If someone considers us to be the co-favorite, there is nothing we can do about that.
"We have had a couple of tough losses in the second half of the season, but still believe our best basketball of the year is still ahead of us. As always, it will come down to who executes at both ends and who makes play when it counts the most."
Clayton's Miners gave the Linton-Stockton faithful some hope when they upset West Vigo 68-63 on Feb. 26 at home.
"When we have had all of our players, we have been able to score pretty well most of the season," said Clayton. "For us, it will come to how well we can defend and rebound.
"North Knox has some good players and they will be playing at home. We are looking forward to the challenge."
Bloomfield coach John Bucher said they will put a 78-44 loss to Class A No. 2 Barr-Reeve behind them and get ready to face Eastern Greene at 6 p.m. on Friday.
The Cardinals lost 51-49 to Eastern Greene at home back in November.
"For all of your work and preparation, tournament time is the time to be at your sharpest," Bucher said. "Hopefully everything you've encountered throughout the year, the adversity, good experiences, bad experiences, everything together, it's the time of the year where hopefully your team makes it pay off."
The WRV Sectional might even be more wide-open, as Shakamak and the Wolverines are both ranked and both have 15 wins while North Central is laying in the weeds with a 11-9 record. The T-Birds of coach Ryan Kamman would have to beat 5-15 Clay City to make the title game.
But Shakamak will have to get past Union (Dugger) tonight to set up a match-up with the Wolverines.
"You never know what is going to happen at this time of the year," said Union (Dugger) coach Clarence Johnson. "Shakamak is a good, quality team and they probably are the favorite to win the sectional.
"But we will show up and play Tuesday."
Shakamak has beaten North Central twice, once in double overtime on the same floor in the Greene County Invitational, and other time by seven points at Jasonville.
The Lakers own a five-point victory over WRV at Jasonville.
A former area head coach told me that Shakamak is the best team and should win the sectional, if they play at a high level.
He said a potential Shakamak-WRV match-up could be decided on the boards.
Wolverine center Cole Goodman has been a terror on the offensive boards lately, but will have to battle the Laker duo of Justin Crody and Jarred VanHorn, both in the neighborhood of 6-8.
To me, the biggest X-factor at WRV is Billy Newton. The SHS senior forward, who is leading the area in scoring at 24 points per game and just became the Lakers all-time leading scorer, has the capability of putting his team on his back and carrying them to a second sectional championship in three years.
There are a lot of very good players in both sectionals, including Mitchell Patton, the 6-9 South Knox center who is headed to IUPUI. Patton could play the role of Newton at North Knox.
This coach also told me that Newton has an uncanny ability to get off a shot and make it with a high percentage no matter what defense is thrown at him.
"You just don't see that very often at the high school level."
Jared Shelton and David McNeal, a transfer from EGHS, have been a solid 1-2 punch for WRV this season. Senior guard Levi Hostetter recently re-injured his knee, the one he had surgery on between his sophomore and junior seasons, and his status is unknown.
This coach added that the Lakers probably match up better with WRV, but not at all well with North Central.
The Thunderbirds of Sullivan County will be looking for a second championship in four years. WRV has had three different sectional champs (North Central in 2007, Shakamak in 2008 and Clay City in 2009) in the past three seasons.
"Hopefully Shakamak and WRV will be so worried about each other that they will forget about us," said Kamman, whose Thunderbirds defeated the Wolverines 60-51 in February at WRV. "We have shown that we can play with both of them.
"We are shooting the ball better than we did earlier. Hopefully we are peaking at the right time."
North Central guard Ethan Stanifer, a transfer from Shakamak, also has been playing better of late, according to McCammon.
"Maybe Ethan was pressing a little bit early because of being at a new school," said Kamman. "We gave him a little more freedom and that takes some adjustment.
"He has been a great kid for us. We love having him here. He has been a real positive for the team and the school."
Bobby Swaby, who made a school record 10 3-pointers against Linton-Stockton, is another NC player that could make a difference.
But usually in the high school tournament or NCAA, there will be a unsung hero, someone who averages three or four points a game will hit for 10 or 12 points.
Hostetter has that capability as well as someone like John Smith of Shakamak.
Igel said the excitement surrounding the sectional has never changed for him.
"I have been part of the draw and the tournament for 20-plus years," he said. "I still get butterflies in my belly this time of the year.
"I still look forward to the draw and see how the teams match up. Whatever happens, it is truly a new season. We have been on both sides of winning and losing as an underdog and as a favorite. You prepare your kids and then they go out and whomever executes the best will win."
It should be another great post season. Good luck to all.
Rick Curl contributed to this story.
B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext 12 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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