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Hart should get credit for sectional alignmentPosted Wednesday, February 6, 2013, at 9:20 PM
As I was reading about girls basketball sectional semifinal pairings later this week, I was reminded of Joe Hart.
Though no one would likely ever refer to the former Union High School coach and teacher as a genius, except Joe, I noticed his idea is in full swing.
A few years back, the Indiana High School Athletic Association decided to change the way they set up post season tournament brackets.
In a six-team sectional in the past, none of which our area teams participate in ironically, two teams would receive a bye into the semifinals where they would square off against each other. This would give those two squads 12 days to prepare for each other. In that scenario, coaches could start implementing a game plan almost immediately, if not subtly, for that opponent, knowing that they were just one win away from competing for a sectional championship.
If you asked me, that was a competitive advantage, still albeit determined by the luck of a ping pong ball bouncing the right way.
So now in that similar scenario, the bye teams have to wait for the winners of games one and two respectively on Tuesday. If those two first-round games are fairly evenly matched, the bye teams would have to wait until about 72 hours before the semifinals before they would 100 percent know their Friday opponent.
So who was the first person that I ever heard propose such a sectional alignment. No other than coach Hart.
Looking back, it seems like a no-brainer now. I am not sure that Hart ever submitted his idea to the IHSAA or not, but I am going to give him credit for his innovation.
No who gets the credit, it has made things more level in six-teams sectionals, but the rest of them still leave something to be desired.
No matter how you look at it, the bye is still perceived to be an advantage. As one coach told me, I would rather play two games to win it than three.
I find it very interesting that 60 percent of the field in a five-team sectional (three teams) get a bye into the semifinals. It is almost as if there is a play-in game to get to the semis.
In a seven-team field, like is the case this week with the girls Class 2A Sullivan Sectional, only one team actually receives a bye into the semis.
The other six squads have to play their way into the semifinals, either by winning on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The thing that still blows me away is the fact that we still have one four-team sectional. Northeast Dubois, Cannelton and Wood Memorial join host Tecumseh in Class A Sectional 64.
This has been the same set up for boys. Tecumseh has parlayed this format into 12 consecutive -- 1999-2010 -- boys sectional titles in Class A. Not to say that the format has helped, but they never won a boys title in the history of the school before class.
But for years there were North Knox, South Knox and Vincennes Rivet going to slaughter ever year at Vincennes Lincoln during days of the single-class boys basketball tournament.
I guess there is something to be said for tradition.
Another thing that baffles me, and believe me there are many and it
doesn't take a lot, is why semifinal games involving the bye team is the second game in a five-team field, but it is the first semifinal in seven-team sectionals?
I found a few interesting notes about some of the girls sectional match-ups coming up this weekend.
The Class 4A Westfield Sectional has six teams remaining -- all .500 or above. Carmel has a 10-10 record, the worst, while host Westfield is 18-2 and Hamilton Southeastern is 18-3.
In Class 2A at Heritage Christian, the four teams remaining have a combined 63-19 record, with 12 being the fewest wins by any of the four semifinalists. Host Heritage Christian has won 20 of 22 games.
Also, in 2A at Forest Park, all six squads left have won at least 10 games. Evansville Mater Dei has won 22 of 24 games.
The winner at Forest Park will feed into the Paoli Sectional, just like the winner of the Sullivan Sectional. But the 19-2 Lady Arrows of Sullivan and Mater Dei would not have a regional rematch, won last year by EMD, until the title game on Saturday, Feb. 16.
It could get very interesting at the Class A North Vermillion Sectional.
Riverton Parke (18-3) and the host Lady Falcons (21-2) are on a collision course to meet in the finale. But NV would have to beat 15-6 Attica in the semifinals Friday.
North Vermillion would be looking for a measure of revenge as RP defeated the Falcons 59-33 back in November. Their only other loss came at the hands of Terre Haute South.
Barr-Reeve and Vincennes Rivet are both 17-4 and in opposite brackets. The Lady Vikings are playing at home, but Rivet defeat B-R 50-40 on the same court less than a month ago.
Barr-Reeve is the defending champ, having snapped Rivet's streak of four consecutive sectional titles in 2012. Rivet was Class A state runner-up in 2009 and 2010 before winning it all in 2011.
At the Class A Clay City Sectional 57, White River Valley is the only team with a winning record -- 12-8. They will open play at 6 p.m. Friday against three-time defending champ Clay City.
Shakamak and Union, a pair of 9-11 teams, will meet in the other semifinal. The Lady Lakers have been sectional runner-up to the Lady Eels in each of the past three seasons.
B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12. He can also be reached by email at email@example.com.
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