It is that time again. The annual draw for the Indiana High School Basketball State Tournament took place this past Sunday and it gets underway on Tuesday, march 1 at 64 sectional sites around the state. This year there is not a truly dominant team. Everyone in the state has at least one loss, and only three teams (Merrillville, New Albany, and Warsaw, all in Class 4A) have just one loss.
So why is this important? Well, It is Indiana and it is basketball. Purdue does not currently have a commitment from the state of Indiana for a future class, but there are plenty of targets out there. As we head into the final regular season games this weekend your number 1 ranked teams in each class are New Albany in Class 4A, Griffith in Class 3A (though they dropped a game last night), Barr-Reeve in Class 2A (they are the defending champion in Class A and playing up this year as a result), and Liberty Christian in Class A.
So, without further preamble, let's look at all 64 sectionals very quickly. If you want a link to each bracket I have made a 2016_Brackets.0.xlsx for all 4 classes.
Sectional 1: East Chicago Central
This is a pretty balanced field with Lowell (18-4) and East Chicago Central (15-5) as the favorites. Lowell also went 6-0 against the 7-team field.
Sectional 2: Crown Point
This sectional features Grant Gelon, who is already signed with Indiana for next year. He plays for host Crown Point (13-8), but Merrillville (20-1) is the heavy favorite. They are led by 3-star point guard D.J. Witkins. Connor TenHove of Valparaiso is another solid player that Purdue has at least looked at.
Sectional 3: Plymouth
This is another balanced sectional with South Bend Riley boasting the best record at 18-5. South Bend Washington is 15-5 and went 5-0 against the field, beating Riley by 3.
Sectional 4: Elkhart Central
Warsaw (20-1) was undefeated until losing to Carmel this past weekend. They are the heavy favorite without any major prospects, but they are just a solid team that plays together.
Sectional 5: DeKalb
This features the northern Ft. Wayne schools led by Carroll (19-5) and Fort Wayne North (17-6). FW North has 6'9" forward Jaylen Butz, who has offers for 2017 from Ball State and Kent State, but Indiana, Purdue, and Michigan State have expressed interest. Keion Brooks is also a promising 2019 prospect from FW North that has Purdue and Indiana already looking. Malik Williams, a 4-star 6'10" forward from Ft. Wayne Snider with an offer from Purdue for 2017 is also in this sectional. Snider is 13-8 on the year.
Sectional 6: Huntington North
Five of the six teams in this sectional have a winning record, and all five have won between 14 and 16 games.
Sectional 7: Logansport
The big school sectional featuring the local Lafayette schools is loaded with prospects. Host Logansport (14-8) has 2017 prospect Jalen Adaway, a 6'5" wing that has had Purdue, Indiana, Kansas, and Iowa looking at him. McCutcheon (21-3) is the favorite led by 2018 star Robert Phinisee, whom Purdue simply needs to get. Purdue and Indiana have both offered and we can't let Indiana get a player that is within 10 miles of Purdue's campus. Our basketball team isn't coached by Darrell Hazell, after all (who famously didn't even offer a 4-star offensive lineman from Lafayette Central Catholic who ended up at Indiana). Zionsville (17-5) is a solid team led by 2019 prospect Isaiah Thompson, a.k.a. P.J. Thompson's little brother. Isaiah is one of the top freshman point guards in the country, let alone Indiana. My beloved Kokomo Wildkats (13-10) are also here, along with Lafayette Jeff (14-8) who is one of the few teams to beat McCutcheon. All six teams here have a winning record and Kokomo has the worst record, but has still beaten Indy Tech and Marion. I will also brag that no one in Indiana has won more sectionals than Kokomo's 74.
Sectional 8: Noblesville
This is another sectional loaded with talent and no clear favorite. Hamilton Southeastern (13-10) has 2017 prospect Zach Gunn, who has an offer from Indiana and Purdue is interested in. They also have freshman Aaron Etherington, the younger brother of Austin and Alex Etherington. Guerin Catholic (13-11) is playing up from Class 3A here after winning last season's 3A title.
Sectional 9: New Castle
Connersville (19-5) and Greenfield Central (18-4) are favored here, but New Castle (14-6) is always a tough out on their home floor.
Sectional 10: Indianapolis Tech
This is the most difficult sectional in the state and the winner is going to be one of the favorites to win it all. It is absolutely loaded with talent. Host Tech (17-5) has the infamous C.J. Walker, who is Florida State bound. Their first game is against Lawrence Central (17-5) and McDonald's All-American Kyle Guy, who is going to Virginia. If that Tuesday night opener wasn't fun enough the second opening game is North Central (19-3) featuring 2017 Purdue target Kris Wilkes, who is already a 5-star according to Rivals. They play Cathedral (16-5) and 2016 Purdue target Eron Gordon (who used to play at North Central). Gordon has not decided yet, but is a 4-star with Purdue, Butler, and Indiana offers. As if those four teams weren't enough, Lawrence North (18-5) drew the bye and will play the Tech-Lawrence Central winner on Friday. Lawrence North has 2018 Purdue target Kevin Easley Jr., a 4-star and one of the top sophomores in America.
Since this sectional is 2 miles from my house I volunteer to go scout for Painter and be the bagman. Purdue would do very well to get Gordon, Wilkes, and Easley in each of the next three classes, especially if it can get Phinisee too and Thompson for 2019. Many of these teams have played each other twice too such as Lawrence Central-North Central and Cathedral-Tech.
Sectional 11: Southport
Here is another good field, and it begins in game 1 with Southport (16-6) facing Pike (17-7) in a potential blood feud. Southport was 23-3 last year, but lost to Pike in 4 OTs for the Marion County title and by 1 in the sectional. Joey Brunk (signed with Butler for 2016) and Paul Scruggs (4-star 2017 prospect with a Purdue offer to go with half the Big Ten) lead Southport. That opening game will likely decide who wins this sectional, but Ben Davis (12-9) is also solid.
Sectional 12: Terre Haute North
This is not a really interesting sectional, but Terre Haute South (17-6) and Terre Haute North (15-9) are pretty good.
Sectional 13: Martinsville
Whiteland (16-5), Franklin Central (16-5), Martinsville (15-6), and Franklin (15-6) are about as balanced as you can get here.
Sectional 14: East Central
Bloomington North (7-13) features 6'5" 2018 prospect Musa Jallow, who has already been offered by Indiana. Purdue has expressed some interest as well, but it is far harder to get a Purdue kid out of Bloomington than it is to get an Indiana kid out of Lafayette. Bloomington South (18-4) is the overwhelming favorite here.
Sectional 15: Seymour
New Albany (20-1) is led by 2018 prospect Romeo Langford, a 4-star 6'4" guard already offered by Purdue, Indiana, UCLA, and Vanderbilt. Let's just trade him to IU for Phinisee and let them duke it out for four years, shall we? It is entirely possible the two could meet for a state championship later on in March. New Albany should get out of this sectional easily.
Sectional 16: Evansville North
Evansville Reitz (18-4) was state runner-up last season, losing in overtime to Homestead with Caleb Swanigan. They are once again a favorite here in the far southwest corner of the state.
Okay, I am going to sound like a snob here, but I don't care since the IHSAA destroyed my tournament 20 years ago. Every school now has the option to play up if they wanted to and, in theory, everyone can decide to play in 4A if they wanted to. So, to me that means Class 4A is the real state tournament and the remaining three are class tournaments. Since I have already spent 1,300 words on Class 4A let's go lightning round for the remaining three classes unless there is a potential Purdue player in a specific sectional.
Sectional 17: Griffith
Host Griffith is 19-3 and reached the Class 3A title game last season behind Anthony and Tremell Murphy, so they should get through this, especially as the current No. 1 team in Class 3A.
Sectional 18: Rensselaer Central
Twin Lakes is the only team here with a winning record at 17-6 and has won two sectionals in a row, so they should win a third.
Sectional 19: Jimtown
Mishawaka Marian (18-3) and South Bend St. Joseph's (16-5) will likely meet in the semifinals with the winner being the favorite. Marian won the regular season meeting by 12.
Sectional 20: Benton Central
Another "local" sectional to Lafayette, it is a pretty weak field. Nai Carlisle from West Lafayette HS who has drawn some Purdue interest has the Red Devils at 11-11, but Peru (13-8) has the best record.
Sectional 21: NorthWood
The hosts have a 19-2 record with their only losses by a point to Fishers and by 16 to Class 4A leader Warsaw, so they should win easily.
Sectional 22: New Haven
Angola enters with a 21-2 record and a great chance to win its first sectional since 1999, but New Haven (16-8) and Leo (16-7) can challenge them, especially since Leo has already beaten Angola once.
Sectional 23: Columbia City
Host Columbia City (17-6) is the favorite and they have a bye to the semifinals, but they have only played two sectional opponents.
Sectional 24: Marion
This one presents a very interesting matchup. The host Giants feature Reggie Jones and Vijay Blackmon (James Blackmon Jr.'s brother) as mid- to high-major prospects, but for the first time ever their enrollment dropped them from 4A to 3A. They still played a 4A tough schedule and went 16-6. I watched two of their losses (Kokomo and Zionsville) and they play absolutely no defense. Meanwhile, Tipton is one of those schools that always hovers on the 2A/3A cut line and happened to be on 3A this time. They are 17-2, they beat Kokomo (one of the teams that beat Marion) and their discipline with the basketball should push Marion. Also look out for Hamilton Heights (15-8) who won a sectional last year with Grant Weatherford in an NCC gym (Muncie Central) and they have split two games with Tipton this year.
Sectional 25: Frankfort
This is a pretty weak sectional with Lebanon (15-8) and Tri-West (16-6) as the best records. Lebanon won their regular season meeting.
Sectional 26: Brown County
Host Brown County (13-9) and Owen Valley (13-10) are the only teams with a winning record in this field.
Sectional 27: New Palestine
Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, the famous three-time state champion in the 50s, has rebuilt its program after the school reopened as a high school a few years ago. They are ranked in the top 10 with a 16-5 record and should win this having played a pretty tough Indy-area schedule.
Sectional 28: Beech Grove
If Park Tudor, who won the last two Class 2A State titles and four of the last five in that class before being forced up as a result, doesn't win here it is a major upset. They are 16-4 and led by Jaren Jackson, a 4-star 6'9" forward in the 2017 class that Painter has been giving a lot of attention to. Jackson has offers from Purdue, Illinois, Butler, Georgetown, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Stanford, Vanderbilt, and Xavier.
Sectional 29: Greensburg
Host Greensburg is 13-7, but not as good as the teams Bryant McIntosh led to back-to-back state titles. Lawrenceburg (13-9) is probably their main challenger.
Sectional 30: Charlestown
I saw Brownstown Central (19-3) earlier this year at the Hoosiers Gym against Tipton and they are a tough, hard-nosed basketball team that should walk through this.
Sectional 31: Southridge
The opening round between 7-time state champion Washington (17-4) and Jasper (15-6) will send the winner to face 71-time sectional champion Vincennes Lincoln (17-5) in the semifinals. Pike Central (17-5) is also here.
Sectional 32: Boonville
This is one of the weakest sectionals in Indiana where Evansville Bosse (13-9) is the only team with a winning record.
Sectional 33: Boone Grove
Bowman Academy (13-8) is back after some success in 3A and, as always, their tough schedule should benefit them well.
Sectional 34: Knox
Marquette Catholic (16-7) is playing up a class after winning the 2014 title and finishing as runner-up in 2015. They play the only other team with a winning record, Winamac (14-7) in the opening round.
Sectional 35: Westview
This is a decent field with Fremont (15-6), LaVille (15-8) and Whitko (13-8) as the three best teams.
Sectional 36: Bluffton
Eastside (14-7) has the best record, but nothing really stands out in this field.
Sectional 37: Manchester
Oak Hill (18-3) is one of the top teams in Class 2A and won a sectional last year. Southwood (18-3) also has a great record, but Oak Hill beat them by 35 points during the regular season.
Sectional 38: Fountain Central
Seeger (18-3) and Rossville (15-7) are probably the two best teams here.
Sectional 39: Elwood
Growing up in Howard County, Eastern was always the joke of basketball among the five county teams. They have rarely had any success whatsoever and even winning one sectional game is often a test. This year the Eastern Comets are an impressive 18-5 after only winning 19 games in the previous three years combined. They are the overwhelming favorite to win this sectional during their best season in decades. It would be just their second ever and first since 1956. A few weeks ago they upset then 3A No. 1 Tipton when they were undefeated.
Sectional 40: Lapel
Host No. 3 Lapel (18-4) and Wapahani (16-6) have battled each other for years in this sectional and should do so again.
Sectional 41: Hagerstown
Northeastern (18-4) is the big favorite here and they have won this sectional two years in a row. They are ranked No. 2 in Class 2A.
Sectional 42: Shenandoah
Indianapolis Howe (17-7) is ranked No. 7 in class 2A and will battle No. 5 Shenandoah (19-2) here.
Sectional 43: Indianapolis Broad Ripple
The smaller Indianapolis schools are featured here with favorites Broad Ripple (14-7) drawing Covenant Christian (16-7) in the opening game.
Sectional 44: Southmont
Cloverdale (16-7) is the only team here with a winning record and went a convincing 6-0 against sectional opponents.
Sectional 45: Southwestern (Hanover)
South Ripley (18-4) is the favorite here, but this features the famous Milan (11-9) who always draws the state's eyes.
Sectional 46: Paoli
This is a pretty wide open sectional with Providence (14-7) and Crawford County (15-7) as the best teams.
Sectional 47: North Knox
Linton-Stockton (20-4) made the Class 2A state finals two years ago and they are one of the best here as the No. 6 team in this class. No. 1 ranked Barr-Reeve (19-3) is playing up in class after winning the Class A title in 2015 and were runner-up there in 2014.
Sectional 48: Jasper
This is the extremely rare sectional with no host school, as Jasper is playing in Class 3A, but is hosting six teams. Forest Park (16-5) is the best team.
Sectional 49: Morgan Township
Charter school Gary 21st Century is 15-6 and ranked 6th in Class A and should win easily.
Sectional 50: Tri-County
South Newton is 20-2, ranked 7th in the state, and hasn't won a sectional in 15 years. Their losses were to Tri-County (18-4) and North White (15-6), who are both in this field.
Sectional 51: Triton
Host Triton is 15-7 and is the best team here in this field.
Sectional 52: Fort Wayne Blackhawk
This is a bunch of private schools here so it is hard to judge, but host Blackhawk, at 12-11, has the lone winning record.
Sectional 53: North Vermillion
North Vermillion (16-8) is the only team with a winning record here.
Sectional 54: Lafayette Central Catholic
Football signee Jackson Anthrop will try to lead LCC (13-8) to a 15th straight sectional title, the longest active streak in the state.
Sectional 55: Wes-Del
Class A No. 1 Liberty Christian (19-4) plays here and all four losses have been to ranked teams in larger classes. They have won four straight sectionals and two straight regionals, so they are the pick here.
Sectional 56: Blue River
Class 2A Seton Catholic (20-3) led by Desmond Bane, who recently visited Purdue, is playing here and they have a rubber match in the regional with Liberty Christian in mind. They should have no problem.
Sectional 57: White River Valley
Bloomfield is 19-3 and is far and away the best team here.
Sectional 58: Bethesda Christian
Indianapolis Tindley (17-5) and University (18-5) should meet in the final to decide this.
Sectional 59: Edinburgh
Indianapolis Arlington (17-5) an IPS magnet school has the best record here and they were 3-0 against sectional foes.
Sectional 60: South Decatur
Jac-Cen-Del is always one of the state's better small schools and this year is no different with them at 17-5.
Sectional 61: West Washington
Three teams, Trinity Lutheran (15-7), Borden (14-7), and West Washington (14-8) are the favored here and closely linked together.
Sectional 62: New Washington
This is a contender for worst field in the state with New Washington the best record at 14-8.
Sectional 63: Loogootee
This is normally the blood feud between bitter rivals Loogootee and Barr-Reeve, who regularly go on to the Class A state title game, but Barr-Reeve is up in 2A for two years. Loogootee at 11-10 has the best record.
Sectional 64: Tecumseh
Last but not least, Wood Memorial at 16-7 is the best team here, but Cannelton, the smallest public school in Indiana with an enrollment of 71, is here too.