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Girls sectionals begin Tuesday night

Posted Monday, February 6, 2012, at 12:48 PM

The 37th annual Indiana High School Athletic Association girls state basketball tournament gets underway Tuesday at 64 sectional sites across the Hoosier State.

Locally, there are two sectionals -- the Class A affair at Clay City and the Class 2A postseason tournament at Bloomfield.

The host Lady Eels are the odds on favorite to win a third straight sectional championship on their home floor at Clay City.

The Lady Eels, who repeated as Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference champions and have won 18 straight conference games, will take a 16-6 record into their 6 p.m. Friday match-up against 4-15 Eminence.

Union (Dugger) (5-14) vs. Shakamak (11-9) will tip things off in a single game at Clay City at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The winner will take on White River Valley (7-13) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the second semifinal with the two Friday winners meeting for the sectional title at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The seven victories by WRV is more than the Lady Wolverines amassed in the last two seasons combined (4-37). Coach A.J. Graves is in his second season of a rebuilding project at Switz City. They were 2-19 a year ago.

Shakamak has quietly put together its first winning season in over a decade. The Lady Lakers posted a 12-9 record in 2000 and went 16-7 in 1999, when Chelsea Culler was the leader on the court and SHS was coached by Beth Wernz.

The Lady Lakers would trade those 11 wins for three in the sectional and a first postseason title in girls basketball.

Shakamak will again have to go through the long bracket to get a chance to face Clay City for a third straight season in the title game. But Union and WRV also are capable of making it through that side of the bracket.

Clay City, led by Brielle Drelick and Carmela Roeschlein, won 52-38 in last year's title game and 47-37 in 2010. The Lady Eels handled SHS 57-26 at Shakamak during the regular season.

Glover Gymnasium will be the venue used for the local Class 2A Sectional. Bloomfield coach Chris Hitchcock is hoping that the familiar surroundings will help his Lady Cardinals.

"It is nice to have a chance to host the sectional," he said. "We are looking forward to it.

"We are hoping to be able to use the homecourt advantage to our favor."

The sectional at BHS will have a different look than past Class 2A tournaments.

North Central and Sullivan join the party this time, making it a seven-team field, also featuring North Knox and South Knox and the Greene County entrants of Bloomfield, Linton-Stockton and Eastern Greene.

What this means for girls basketball fans is another night of competition and two more games. What is means for coaches is one more game and one more potential stumbling block on the way to hoisting sectional hardware come Saturday night.

The Lady Miners (1-20) will take on North Knox (12-10) in the lone game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bloomfield.

Eastern Greene (8-14) will face 0-20 North Central at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Sullivan (18-3) will take on South Knox (14-8) in the second game on Wednesday.

Unlike in the five-team field at Clay City where three teams were in the semifinals when the pairings were announced, only the host Lady Cardinals will be the only team in that 2A field that received a bye. BHS will take on the winner of the Linton-Stockton-North Knox game at 6 p.m. Friday.

Wednesday's winners will meet in the second semi at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The two survivors on Friday will be in the championship contest at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

"We were happy with getting the bye," said Hitchcock. "But you just have to sit and wait to see when and who you play. Not to take anything away from anybody, I think that North Knox and Eastern were probably pretty happy with their draw too.

"Sullivan and South Knox were probably the only teams not happy with the draw."

The Lady Arrows and Lady Spartans have the two best regular-season records. In their regular-season meeting, South Knox edged Sullivan 41-40 in overtime.

North Knox defeated South Knox 57-55 on the road earlier. The Lady Warriors have lost four games in a row entering Tuesday's match-up with the Lady Miners.

But those losses were at the hands of teams with a combined record of 63-17 -- Loogootee, Barr-Reeve, Washington and Northeast Dubois.

"I think there are going to be some great match-ups in our sectional," said Eastern Greene coach Zack Stevens. "Sullivan has a lot of tournament experience and played in Class 3A last year.

"South Knox and Sullivan battled back and forth before South Knox came out on top. We have been up and down, but everyone starts the tournament at 0-0. Everybody has a clean slate. You have to show up and be ready to play your best basketball or face going home for the season."

Lady Miner coach Brad McKinney said his team has nothing to lose. Their only victory this season came at North Central (38-31) on Jan. 30.

"We know that we go into this as huge underdogs," he said. "Everybody else was concerned about the draw, but it did not have the same impact on us.

"We just have to get ready to play a good, well-coached North Knox team that handled us pretty easily the first time."

McKinney said that South Knox, Sullivan and North Knox are among the favorites, but said that all of those teams have the capability to be knocked off.

Hitchcock knows that their defense will have to carry the Lady Cardinals, if they want to claim their first sectional championship since 2007.

"I think it is going to be a wide-open semifinals," said Hitchcock. "Anything can happen in Indiana basketball.

"The South Knox-Sullivan game will be a tremendous battle in the post between the Smith girl at Sullivan and the Scott girl at South Knox. Also both teams have a very good point guard. It is going to be very interesting. It will come down to who comes out with the right mindset and who can execute on both ends of the floor. We would like to think that it will be an advantage playing at home, but we have to go out and make it happen."

There will be plenty of drama over the next five nights. My advice to players, fans and coaches, enjoy the ride. Good luck to all.

B.J. Hargis is the sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at hargisbj@gmail.com.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

CLASS A

CLAY CITY

SECTIONAL 57

Game 1,. 7 p.m. Tuesday -- Union (Dugger) (5-14) vs. Shakamak (11-9)

Game 2, 6 p.m. Friday -- Eminence (4-15) vs. Clay City (16-6)

Game 3, 7:30 p.m. Friday -- White River Valley (7-13) vs. Winner Game 1

Game 4 , 7:30 p.m. Saturday -- Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3

CLASS 2A

BLOOMFIELD

SECTIONAL 47

Game 1,. 7 p.m. Tuesday -- Linton-Stockton (1-20) vs. North Knox (12-10)

Game 2, 6 p.m. Wednesday -- Eastern Greene (8-14) vs. North Central (Farmersburg) (0-20)

Game 3, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday -- Sullivan (18-3) vs. South Knox (14-8)

Game 4, 6 p.m. Friday -- Bloomfield (9-11) vs. Winner Game 1

Game 5, 7:30 p.m. Friday -- Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3

Game 6, 7:30 p.m. Saturday -- Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5


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