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Huntingburg to host another hoop regionalPosted Friday, March 11, 2011, at 11:26 AM
If records are any indication, the Class 2A boys basketball regional at the Huntingburg Memorial Gymnasium should be as good as any in the state Saturday.
The four teams that will be participating there at the Southridge Regional have a combined record of 85-9, the most of the 16 regionals across the state.
The first game at 10 a.m. will feature No. 1 Forest Park (23-0) vs. Covenant Christian (18-5).
The second game, which will start about 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first contest, will feature No. 8 Brownstown Central against No. 10 Eastern Greene. Both squads are 22-2.
The Class 2A North Judson Regional also has three teams with at least 21 wins and three teams that are ranked.
It features No. 2 Hammond Noll (23-0), No. 6 North Judson (22-1), No. 7 Westview (21-2) and Prairie Heights (17-8). They have combined for a 83-11 mark.
The Indianapolis Regional in Class 4A has something no other regional can boast -- four ranked teams.
No. 2 North Central (Indianapolis) (20-2) will take on No. 7 Pike (21-4) in the first game before No. 5 Hamilton Southeastern (19-3) meets No. 6 Center Grove (21-4) in the second semifinal.
But those four "only" have a combined record of 81-13.
Teams at the Class 3A Washington Regional, featuring the host No. 1 Hatchets, Sullivan, Evansville Bosse and Corydon Central, have a combined record of 76-20.
At the Class A Loogootee Regional, Rock Creek Academy (20-4) will take on Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference champion North Daviess (20-3) in one of just four games in the same regional featuring teams with 20 wins or more.
"I would put our regional up against any other in the state," said Eastern Greene coach Andy Igel. "It's not too bad."
This is the fourth time in school history that Eastern Greene will be making an appearance in the regional.
The first one came in 2001 when the Thunderbirds knocked off host Crawford County 63-58 on March 14. That was during the time when the state was using a mid-week, one-game regional format.
I was lucky enough to be courtside for that game, which is the most memorable for me since the advent of class basketball in 1997-98. There was at least 4,500 fans in attendance and not an empty seat to be found a hour before tip-off in the home of the Wolfpack. It was a sea of Thunderbird Red and Wolfpack Orange. I think I was wearing Sports Editor Blue.
Three days later on St. Patrick's Day at Huntingburg Memorial, Batesville seemingly could miss from 3-point range as they defeated the T-Birds 89-71 in the semistate, ending the Eastern's best season at 23-2 and the prep career of all-time leading T-Bird scorer Levi Carmichael.
In 2005 and 2006, Eastern Greene lost at the Southridge Regional in Huntingburg.
Forest Park defeated the Thunderbirds 61-51 in 2005 on their way to state title. A year later, Providence topped Eastern Greene 48-38. Forest Park then defeated Providence in the regional title game on their march to a second straight state championship in Class 2A.
"We played well in both of those games despite being heavy underdogs," Igel said of their last two trips to the regional. "We would probably be ranked as the third best team at the regional Saturday.
"But a big load came off of their shoulders when they won the sectional Saturday. When you get to this stage of the year, anything can happen. We know that we belong with those other teams."
The T-Birds are 0-3 all time in the Huntingburg Memorial Gymnasium, all post season losses mentioned above.
"We hope to make new tournament memories at Huntingburg," said Igel. "We are confident and really believe in ourselves."
Ironically when Bloomfield represented Greene County in the regional two years ago, it was the same three teams in the field that will join Eastern Greene Saturday.
Covenant Christian played Forest Park in the first game and the Cards faced Brownstown Central in the second game. Bloomfield had a chance to beat the Braves, but lost 38-35.
Although Eastern Greene has four seniors in its starting line-up, BC is making it third straight appearance in the regional, all at Huntingburg.
None of the Thunderbirds have ever played in a more meaningful high school game than they will this weekend.
"Winning the sectional took a big load off of their shoulders," said Igel. "Now we can just go out and play basketball.
"We have to compete defensively. We have held teams to less than 40 percent field goal defense. If we can do that, we have a good chance."
Tickets are $6 for each session, including the title game at 8 p.m., or $9 for both and will be sold on the south side of the gym.
Huntingburg Memorial Gymnasium has been host of a Class 2A Regional since the Indiana High School Athletic Association adopted the present four-team regional format in 2002.
Forest Park is the defending regional champ. The Rangers also won the regional in 2003, 2005 and 2006. Austin won in 2002, Brownstown Central won in 2004 and 2009, Providence in 2007 and Evansville Mater Dei in 2008.
The gym at Huntingburg also hosted the regional between 1954 and 1971 and 1997-2000.
The gym, which rumor has it was built to steal the sectional away from Jasper and could seat everyone in Huntingburg at the time some 60 years ago, cost $350,000 to build.
In the first game, Huntingburg defeated Mitchell 44-36 on Nov. 13, 1951.
It is the 17th largest facility of its kind in Indiana, with a seating capacity of 6.092.
When it was built, it was the third biggest gym in Indiana.
The playing floor is 16 feet below ground level.
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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