Wolverines aim to sweep North Central at sectional’s start
The third meeting between two teams and the Battle of the Eels will begin the White River Valley Sectional Tuesday night.
WRV (6-17) kicks off Sectional 57’s action at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday when the Wolverines meet North Central (4-19) for the third time this season. The Clay City Eels (6-16) will take on the Eminence Eels (5-17) in the second game later that night.
The sectional resumes at 6:00 p.m. Friday when Shakamak (8-15) squares off against the winner of Game One. Bloomfield (14-9) plays the boss Eels in the second semifinal.
The championship will be played at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The victor will take on the winner of the Indianapolis Lutheran sectional at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 10, in the first game of the Martinsville Regional.
The Wolverines face the daunting task of defeating a team for the third team this season.
WRV beat the Thunderbirds 44-36 Dec. 2 at home. The T-Birds led 10-5 after one quarter, but the Wolverines rallied to lead 19-14 at the break and by as much as 14 in the second half before fighting off a late North Central rally.
The second game, on Jan. 4 in the Greene County Invitational, proved easier for WRV as the Wolverines won 53-31. They swiped the ball 19 times, forced the T-Birds into 28 turnovers, and outscored their foes 33-15 in the second half.
However, WRV coach Jimmy Beasley, Jr. doesn’t expect a cakewalk Tuesday night. Right after their loss to WRV, the Thunderbirds snapped a 37-game losing streak, then the longest in the state, by beating Eminence in their next game. They have since posted three more wins.
“It’s always tough to beat a team three times,” Beasley said. “They’re probably the most improved team in the entire sectional.”
A victory Tuesday would snap WRV’s eight-game losing streak. The Wolverines last won on Jan. 29 when they pounded Washington Catholic 52-26. That streak includes some close contests, losses of 48-46 and 41-39 to Owen Valley and Brown County, respectively, and lopsided beatings at the hands of schools like Linton and Vincennes Rivet.
““We’re going to have to get back to playing winning basketball,” said Beasley “We’re going to have be poised, patient, and play our game.“
Last year, the Wolverines found themselves in the same boat, playing North Central in their first game. The Wolverines prevailed 55-36, but Beasley said they must come out with fires in their bellies Tuesday night.
“If we don’t come out to play,” Beasley reflected, “they’re going to put it to us.”
Shakamak has beaten both WRV and North Central.
The Lakers first played the Wolverines Jan. 2 in the Greene County Invitational and thumped them 45-28. The Lakers forced their opponents into 23 turnovers as they took a 23-12 halftime lead. Shakamak took on the Wolverines again on Jan. 19 in a Southwest Indiana Athletic Conference showdown and prevailed by a 54-39 margin. The officials assessed 25 fouls against WRV and the Lakers nailed 26-27 free throws to post the W.
On Jan. 27, the Lakers hosted North Central and defeated the Thunderbirds 48-36. Shakamak held North Central to three first-quarter points and outscored the Thunderbirds 18-8 in the third stanza.
Bloomfield has faced only one of its potential foes.
The Cardinals trounced Clay City 62-44 on Dec. 8, but they haven’t played Eminence this year. The Cards jumped on Clay City for an 11-5 lead after one quarter and steadily expanded the margin.
Despite the win over Clay City and Eminence’s losing record, Bloomfield coach Jamie Hudson said the Cards must be ready to play; one loss and their season is over.
“You’ve played all these games to get ready for this,” he said. “Anything can happen in the sectional. I told the kids: ‘It’s a one-game championship.’”
Hudson added that the Cardinals must maintain their focus and stay mentally tough. He has said the Cardinals lacked that mental grittiness in some of this season’s losses, especially a 50-34 defeat on Feb. 8 that allowed Linton to claim the SWIAC title.
“We always need mental toughness,” Hudson said.
He said the Cardinals will concentrate on improving their game and not worry about who Friday’s foe will be. He noted Bloomfield has a rich tradition of post-season success to draw upon.
“We have one goal every year,” Hudson said. “That is to win the sectional. We’ve got to focus on what we’ve got to do to win rather than who we’re playing.”