While all three of Purdue's official commitments are out of the state tournament, there are a handful of prospects taking part in this weekend's eight semi-state games at four different sites. Caleb Swanigan and Jaren Jackson are the two largest targets still playing, but there are definitely reasons to watch all eight games.
South Bend Riley (12-14) vs. Homestead (27-2) 6pm at Huntington North
On paper this looks like a major mismatch. Homestead's two losses were to Chicago Curie and Ft. Wayne Snider, while Riley has been a major surprise. Five of their 12 victories have come in the postseason, and when they had split two games with first round opponent South Bend Adams it was a bit of a surprise they even won a game. Swanigan and Co. are huge favorites hereto advance to their first state finals in school history. Homestead eliminated Carmel and Ryan Cline in the regional final last week at Marion.
Richmond (26-3) vs. Evansville Reitz (28-1) 3pm at Seymour
This game was originally supposed to be at Richmond, as the Red Devils were the scheduled host for two semi-state games, but for the first time in the history of the state tournament the IHSAA pulled home court advantage away. This makes it a more neutral site for what should be an excellent game. Richmond is coming off its first regional crown since 1992, when Chad Austin led them to a state title. Reitz won a regional for the first time since 1968 and is seeking its first semi-state since 1951. Their lone loss was 88-80 at Southport on the final day of the regular season. Southport was upset by Pike in the sectional, who was, in turn, eliminated by Richmond. Get ready for some points, too. Reitz leads the state at an impressive 92.24 points per game (more than eight points more than the second place team), and Richmond is not afraid to run, either, averaging 68.17 with several games in the 80s and 90s. Reitz has topped 100 points 10 times, including twice in the tournament.
Griffith (18-3) vs. Ft. Wayne DWenger (14-13) 4pm at Huntington North
This is uncharted territory for Griffith. They have never won a regional before last week. Dwenger once produced Purdue walk-on B.J. Caretta, who beat my No. 2 rated Kokomo Wildkats in the 1996 semi-state when I was a sophomore to reach the Elite 8 of the old one-class tournament. They also won a regional last year before losing to Bowman Academy. At one point this year Dwenger was 4-13 and had even lost to Grant Weatherford and Hamilton Heights. They avenged that loss last week before beating NorthWood to advance. Either team is a surprise state finalist after No. 1 Mishawaka Marian and No. 7 NorthWood were knocked out of the north.
Guerin Catholic (20-8) vs. Vincennes Lincoln (21-6) 6pm, Southport
Guerin has had a ton of success and they are led by Matt Holba, who is committed to Lehigh. They won the 2012 state championship and were a regional champ last season with IUPUI's Aaron Brennan. Facing Vincennes is a surprise. The Alices upset two-time defending state champ Greensburg last week for their first regional since 1997. They last won a semi-state in 1984 and have state titles in 1923 and 1981. Only Kokomo, with 74 sectional titles, has more sectional crowns than the 71 that Vincennes has.
Hammond Noll (13-13) vs. Frankton (25-2) 3pm at Lafayette Jeff
Hammond Noll is one of three teams that entered the tournament with a losing record, but is still alive. They were state runner-up in 2011 and reached the state finals in 1988 in the one-class system. Frankton has been solid all year long with one of their losses coming against Class A regional champ Liberty Christian. Hammond Noll's record is a tad misleading, as they got beat up by many of the Northwest Indiana powers.
Park Tudor (24-2) vs. Linton-Stockton (22-6) 4pm at Southport
Park Tudor has won three of the last four Class A state championships thanks to the now departed Trevon Blueitt. They are now led by Jaren Jackson and were virtually perfect in the regional lastweek. They have won every tournament game by double digits. Linton-Stockton came out of the south two years ago when Park Tudor was upset in the sectional, but they lost in the state title game to Bowman Academy. Purdue has offered Jackson, who is already a 2017 4-star prospect according to Rivals. Park Tudor is the HEAVY favorite to repeat in Class 2A
Marquette Catholic (23-6) vs. Liberty Christian (25-3) Noon at Lafayette Jeff
This is a rematch of last year's north semi-state won 72-61 by Marquette on their way to a state title. Like Park Tudor in Class 2A, Marquette has already advanced far enough to know it has to move up in class next season. They are led by Providence commit Ryan Fazekas. Liberty Christian is a high scoring team at almost 80 points per game and they own wins over 4A schools Ft. Wayne Northrop, Pendleton Heights, and Fort Wayne South.
Clay City (24-4) vs. Barr-Reeve (25-2) 1pm, Seymour
This is also a rematch of last year's south semi-state, as all four Class A regional winners repeated after last year. Barr-Reeve won last year's game 75-55. Barr-Reeve has been the perpetual bridesmaid in Class A. They have been to the state finals four times since 2002, but have lost all four times. A fifth trip means that they would be forced to move up to Class 2A for the next two seasons. Barr-Reeve's defense during the state tournament has been stifling, as they have given up only 27.4 points per game in five tournament games. They have also won all five by double digits.