They are the best words in the state of Indiana. We have 64 sectional champions and by the end of tomorrow there will be 16 battle hardened teams left. The challenge of regional Saturday is unique. You must win two games in less than 12 hours if you want to keep your state title dreams alive. It is hard for even the best teams to do.
Two schools left, Liberty Christian in 1A and New Albany in 4A, were here last year and made it through to win state titles. Two other teams, Churusbusco in 2A and Lakewood Park Christian in 1A, are making their first ever regional appearance. It is always a great day of basketball, so let’s look around the state real quick at all 16 regionals.
Michigan City Regional:
Merrillville (19-7) vs. South Bend Adams (21-4)
Warsaw (19-7) vs. East Chicago Central (15-9)
If there is a “weak” 4A regional it is this one. This was originally where 2018 Purdue target Damezi Anderson (the No. 97 player nationally in the class of 2018) was supposed to be playing with South Bend Riley, but after getting upset in the sectional we will see South Bend Adams instead. Warsaw is the defending champion here, having beaten Riley in double OT and Crown Point last season. They came within a basket of McCutcheon in last year’s semi-state, so I would give them a slight edge. If they meet in the final, East Chicago does have a 2-point regular season win over Merrillville.
Homestead (23-3) vs. No. 4 Fort Wayne North (24-2)
No. 6 Carmel (21-4) vs. No. 5 McCutcheon (23-2)
Holy crap is this field loaded. McCutcheon is the defending champ and already survived possibly the toughest sectional in the state only to be rewarded with the toughest regional. They looked very good in dismantling Kokomo and Zionsville last week. Purdue target Robert Phinisee and McCutcheon needed overtime last year to beat Carmel in the morning session before beating Homestead in the night session. In the other semifinal, Homestead and Ft. Wayne North are meeting for the third time. Homestead lost both regular season meetings, meaning two of their three losses are at the hands of the Legends. Ft. Wayne North has Keion Brooks, the No. 22 recruit in the 2019 class who Purdue is also after. This should be a dandy of a regional. If you’re in-state and looking for something to do, go to Logansport. You will get three fantastic games.
Brownsburg (18-6) vs. Connersville (26-1)
No. 7 North Central (23-4) vs. Ben Davis (19-5)
North Central, with McDonald’s All-American Kris Wilkes and a wealth of other solid players, is probably the favorite here. They spent a good portion of the season ranked No. 1 and they have played one of the hardest schedules in the state. They beat Ben Davis 70-59 in the Marion County Tournament and 68-57 in conference play. Connersville is a bit of a dark horse with a gaudy record, but no real great wins. As a fun note, they played Mt. Vernon twice and needed six total overtimes to get both wins, including double OT in the sectional semifinal last week.
Center Grove (17-7) vs. No. 1 New Albany (24-3)
Bloomington South (22-4) vs. No. 8 Castle (22-3)
Your defending state champion in New Albany has possibly the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2018 class in Romeo Langford. Their losses aren’t bad. They lost to Columbus East in early February when Langford was out with a minor injury and back in December to North Central and LaPorte Lalumiere. Castle features Iowa signee Jack Nunge, a player we’re going to see quite a bit over the next four years. This is probably New Albany’s regional to lose, but don’t count out Castle.
Kankakee Valley Regional
West Lafayette (16-9) vs. No. 7 Griffith (23-3)
No. 6 Twin Lakes (22-3) vs. No. 1 Culver Academy (21-2)
Griffith has won this regional two years running, finishing as state runner-up in 2015 and losing to Marion on a tip-in at the buzzer in the semi-state last year after their game was delayed due to a bus crash on I-65. Culver Academy already won at West Lafayette by 27 this year and Twin Lakes beat West Lafayette by 11 in January. Twin Lakes also met Culver Academy on December 16 and Culver won 57-43, so Culver is probably the favorite.
Fairfield (13-12) vs. Ft. Wayne Luers (17-7)
New Haven (19-7) vs. Tipton (16-8)
None of these teams are ranked, but that doesn’t mean a Luers-New Haven final won’t be a good one. Tipton ousted defending state champ Marion on an overtime buzzer-beater last week and also needed overtime to beat Hamilton Heights in the sectional final. Luers beat New Haven by 10 in the regular season, but lost to the same Marion team that was knocked out by Tipton. That makes for a fascinating field.
Northview (18-8) vs. No. 4 Indianapolis Crispus Attucks (21-4)
No. 9 Tri-West (22-3) vs. Danville (19-8)
The legendary name of Attucks is back in this field. Since re-opening as a high school a few years ago Attucks has greatly improved as a program. Now they are in line for their first regional title in 47 years. Tri-West and Danville are county rivals that met twice during the season with Tri-West winning by 12 and 13 each time. It is still hard to beat the same team three times in a season, however.
Pike Central (14-11) vs. Greensburg (17-6)
No. 3 Brownstown Central (24-2) vs. No. 5 Evansville Bosse (18-7)
Bosse won this regional a year ago and made the state finals before losing to Marion. They play a Brownstown team that twice made the state finals in 2A, but is 0-3 in 3A regionals. Greensburg is also here after their tremendous run to consecutive state championships under Bryant McIntosh. Brownstown has the record here, but Bosse has the experience from last season.
North Judson Regional
Marquette Catholic (17-9) vs. Churubusco (17-8)
Central Noble (14-12) vs. Gary Roosevelt (15-8)
This is a very interesting field. Churubusco has never won a sectional before this year. Marquette Catholic is in its second year playing up a class due to success factor. Gary Roosevelt has dramatically shrunk in enrollment but is still a legendary basketball school. I don’t think there is a real favorite here except for Marquette Catholic.
Covington (18-7) vs. Madison-Grant (13-11)
Frankton (19-6) vs. No. 8 Southwood (21-4)
Southwood upset No. 3 Oak Hill last week to get this far, and Frankton knocked off defending state champ Lapel. That makes for an unlikely field here. Madison-Grant advanced out of one of the weakest sectional fields in the state, while Covington has had some good 1A teams in recent years before enrollment moved them up to 2A.
Cloverdale (21-6) vs. No. 4 Northeastern (21-5)
No. 10 Shenandoah (20-4) vs. Heritage Christian (15-9)
Only three of the Class 2A top 10 made it out of sectionals last week, and two of them are here. Shenandoah was likely the biggest surprise to get here, upsetting Indianapolis Howe in last week’s sectional final. Broad Ripple was also expected to be in Heritage Christian’s spot here, so I am not sure what to think. This is Northeastern’s 4th straight regional appearance and last year it lost by 2 in the championship game to Howe.
South Knox (19-7) vs. South Ripley (15-11)
Forest Park (18-9) vs. Crawford County (19-6)
Welcome to the far southern 2A regional, where the winner between No. 3 Barr-Reeve and No. 5 Linton-Stockton in the opening round of sectional play was expected to be the favorite. Instead, Barr-Reeve beat Linton-Stockton, then was upset by South Knox in the sectional final. It is hard to call a prohibitive favorite here, but I would give it to Forest Park, who won a regional as recently as 2011.
No. 2 Tri-County (23-2) vs. Gary 21st Century (17-8)
No. 10 Oregon-Davis (20-6) vs. Lakewood Park Christian (17-8)
Gary 21st Century won this regional a year ago before losing the semi-state to Liberty Christian. They are the latest Gary charter school in the same vein as Bowman Academy (who was actually suspended from this season’s tournament). Their opener against Tri-County should be a fascinating game, as Tri-County is probably the best 1A public school in the state.
North Vermillion (8-18) vs. No. 1 Lafayette Central Catholic (19-6)
Liberty Christian (12-14) vs. Seton Catholic (15-11)
LCC has won 16 straight sectionals, approaching Lafayette Jeff’s all-time record of 29. They have not done well at the regional level, however. They have lost three in a row and this is the exact same field as last year. In fact, Liberty Christian has beaten LCC in the championship game of this regional three years in a row. Liberty Christian won last year’s 1A title, but a year after losing Desmond Bane Seton Catholic might finally get past them after three straight losses in the morning session of this regional to Liberty Christian. Seton won the regular season meeting 66-63.
No. 3 Indianapolis Tindley (20-5) vs. Shakamak (15-10)
Hauser (16-9) vs. Indianapolis Lutheran (11-12)
Purdue coaches will have an eye here too as Eric Hunter, a rising 2018 prospect, plays for Tindley. He is a 4-star 6’3” guard coach painter has been watching for a while and Tindley is a legitimate good team. I would say they are the strong favorite here, but they lost last season in the regional final to Bloomfield.
West Washington (20-6) vs. New Washington (18-9)
Loogootee (21-7) vs. No. 5 Wood Memorial (21-5)
Of the 64 teams playing on Saturday Loogootee is the only team that got through to play on its home floor. The Lions are historically one of the best small school teams in the state too with a 2012 Class A title, two appearances in the state finals before class basketball (1970 and 1975), 10 regionals, and 30 sectionals. They did lose to Wood Memorial by 22 in the regular season, however. West Washington also lost to New Washington by 10 in the regular season.