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2018 Indiana High School Basketball State Tournament: Regional Preview

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Eric Hunter and Isaiah Thompson are still alive for state titles.

Regional Saturday is one of my favorite days of the year. It is one of the last excellent holdovers from the old one-class state tournament because it involves each regional champion having to survive two games in a single day about 8 hours apart. It makes the Big Ten Tournament with the compressed schedule look like a cakewalk. If you have the second morning session game and go an overtime or two you can finish up around 2:30 and have to be back on the court by 8pm to play again in order to advance. This survival of the fittest is the best round because 64 teams enter and only 16 leave in a span of about 12 hours. Imagine if the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament were played this way and televised.

To the uninitiated, Indiana has four classes based on enrollment. In this round each class has four regional sites round the state with four teams. The semifinals are played at 10am and noon, with the two winners coming back that night for the championship at 8pm. By the end of the day each class has a Final Four and they are generally the best of the best. You might be able to slip through a sectional with a losing record because of a favorable draw, but winning a regional is an achievement.

As for Purdue, several of our upcoming 2019 and 2020 targets are still alive, as well as 2019 commit Isaiah Thompson and 2018 signee Eric Hunter. Here is a look at all 16 sites and what to expect.

Class 4A

Michigan City Regional

Valparaiso (20-5) vs. Elkhart Memorial (13-12)

No. 2 South Bend Riley (24-0) vs. Lake Central (15-12)

This regional sets up quite nicely for a good final. South Bend Riley, led by Indiana signee Demezi Anderson, is one of two undefeated teams left among the 64 across the state. They have an average margin of victory of 25 points and should roll past an average Lake Central team. Valparaiso has a solid record as the best team out of “The Region”. A championship game between these two would be excellent.

Logansport Regional

Fort Wayne North (20-5) vs. No. 7 Zionsville (22-3)

Homestead (18-7) vs. Carmel (18-7)

I am actually covering this regional on Saturday and the morning game will be excellent. Zionsville’s Isaiah Thompson is coming off of a massive sectional where the Eagles avenged two years of defeats at the hands of McCutcheon to finally win their first sectional in 23 years. he also had 44 points in the semifinal win over Harrison and tied a state record with 7 first quarter three-pointers. Now they face Fort Wayne North, who was last year’s state runner-up behind 2019 prospect Keion Brooks. Coach Painter has been in on Brooks for a while and he is the consensus top 2019 player in Indiana. He is rated No. 22 nationally as a 6’8” small forward. Getting him will be tough, but not impossible.

As far as how this regional plays out, both games will be excellent. FW North and Homestead split two regular season game against each other. Zionsville beat Carmel in the season opener, breaking a 10-game losing streak to them that included sectional losses in 2012, 2013, and 2014. It is a truly wide-open sectional, but Carmel, Homestead, and Forth Wayne North all have recent regional wins. Zionsville is here for the first time since 1995. They haven’t won a game in a regional since 1955 and the only regional title for the school was in 1953.

Southport Regional

Terre Haute South (19-7) vs. Mount Vernon (15-9)

No. 1 Warren Central (28-0) vs. No. 8 Ben Davis (21-5)

The first game almost feels like an afterthought, as the winner of game two will be heavily favored in the nightcap. Warren Central is undefeated and ranked No. 1. The closest they have come to a loss is being taken to triple overtime by Zionsville on January 30. Ben Davis, led by Michigan State signee Aaron Henry (a player Painter whiffed on) is the defending state champion. They played Warren Central twice during the season and lost 47-39 and 55-43. Warren Central can also do the rare double as its girls team beat Zionsville in the state title game two weeks ago.

Seymour Regional

Center Grove (19-6) vs. Evansville North (13-12)

No. 5 Bloomington South (26-2) vs. No. 3 New Albany (23-1)

Center Grove’s Trayce Jackson-Davis is a top 2019 in-state player and 30th nationally. I would love for Purdue to get him or Brooks, as either is a win-win situation. They should win game one, while game 2 will be good. New Albany’s Romeo Langford is sitting at 2,900 career points and needs 135 over the final possible four games to become the state’s all-time scoring leader. What he does in two games today (assuming they win both) will decide if he has a chance or not. New Albany already won the 2016 state title with him, but were upset in the regional final last year (costing Langford at least one more game). New Albany beat Bloomington South 70-58 on November 25th.

My picks: SB Riley, Zionsville, Ben Davis, New Albany

Class 3A

LaPorte Regional

No. 4 Culver Academy (19-6) vs. Hammond (19-5)

West Lafayette (21-4) vs. Calumet (14-10)

Purdue has its eye on a couple of players here. Trey Galloway is a 4-star 6’3” guard in the 2020 class for Culver Academy. West Lafayette has football commit George Karlaftis doubling as “hey, let’s throw in a big guy to rebound and dish out pain at the basket”. Turns out he is a decent basketball player too, and remember: Kawann Short helped E’Twaun Moore win the 2007 basketball state title. Culver beat West Lafayette 50-34 on January 26 and that rematch is probably likely.

Marion Regional

Marion (19-6) vs. NorthWood (18-5)

No. 1 New Castle (25-2) vs. Angola (17-8)

The final here will probably an old North Central Conference game (New Castle left the NCC a few years ago) as Marion is really enjoying its drop down to 3A. New Castle has 2019 target Mason Gillis, a 6’7” forward Painter is very high on. All of Marion’s losses were to strong 4A schools and they won the 3A title two years ago. New Castle lost at Carmel by 2 and Beech Grove by 10. They rolled through their sectional virtually unchallenged.

Greencastle Regional

No. 6 Danville (20-4) vs. No. 2 Indianapolis Crispus Attucks (20-4)

Lebanon (11-15) vs. Edgewood (22-5)

Crispus Attucks is the state’s defending champion in Class 3A and they survived a brutal sectional with wins over Brebeuf and Ritter. They have not lost since January 27 against Ben Davis. They also already have a 70-58 win at Danville on December 2nd. Edgewood should roll past a Lebanon team that was lucky to make it this far, as they were 5-14 on February 9th before winning three of their last 4, then getting hot at home in the sectional.

Southridge Regional

Greensburg (20-5) vs. No. 3 Evansville Bosse (22-4)

No. 8 Silver Creek (19-5) vs. Southridge (12-13)

I would have to give Evansville Bosse the edge here. They won this regional last year before losing to Crispus Attucks in the semi-state. Two years ago they reached the state final before losing to Marion. Mekhi Lairy for them has 2,125 career points and has reached No. 30 on the state career list. With 10 more points he’ll pass the legendary Shawn Kemp. With 14 more he’ll pass one-time Purdue player Kyle Macy. A 21 point game moves him into the top 25. Jack Owens has already locked up the 5’7” Lairy for Miami (OH)

My Picks: Culver Academy, New Castle, Crispus Attucks, Evansville Bosse

Class 2A

North Judson Regional

Andrean (17-8) vs. Marquette Catholic (13-14)

No. 2 Westview (26-1) vs. Fort Wayne Canterbury (11-13)

There are a pair of schools here with losing records, but Marquette Catholic is playing up in class after a run in 1A that featured a title and a runner-up finish. They won this regional a year ago and lost the semi-state to eventual state champion Frankton by 2 in overtime. They played a very tough schedule and even have a 4A win over Kokomo. Westview beat undefeated LaVille in the sectional and they were state runner-up in 2014. They are often one of the most successful 2A public schools in the state.

Lapel Regional

No. 1 Covington (23-1) vs. No. 9 Tipton (20-4)

Lapel (14-12) vs. No. 8 Oak Hill (22-5)

This is always one of the more balanced fields with multiple good teams. It would have four ranked teams had Lapel not upset defending 2A champion and bitter rival Frankton 67-65 in overtime last week. Oak Hill has a real chance here as they own a 59-42 win over Tipton. Tipton’s only losses were to Oak Hill, Frankton, Kokomo, and West Lafayette. Covington’s lone loss was by a point to West Lafayette. This is a pretty balanced field and home court advantage gives Lapel an advantage.

Greenfield Regional

Union County (20-6) vs. Indianapolis Scecina (17-9)

Shenandoah (21-4) vs. Cloverdale (20-6)

We have another prolific scorer here as Cloverdale’s Jalen Moore is 13th on the state list with 2,370 points. He is 17 points away from James Blackmon Jr., and with a few more games he can break the school record of 2,496 set by Cooper Neese just last year. The idea that a 2A school could have two kids at the same time (since they were teammates last year) score 5,000 career points combined is insane. Overall this regional is fairly balanced and should be a fun one.

Paoli Regional

Austin (15-11) vs. No. 10 Southwestern (Hanover) (24-2)

Forest Park (22-4) vs. South Knox (17-9)

I don’t know a ton about any of these teams. South Knox has never won a regional. Forest Park won the most recent one in 2011. A lot of the ranked teams that were supposed to make it this far were eliminated in the sectional.

My Picks: Westview, Covington, Cloverdale, Forest Park

Class 1A

Culver Regional

No. 5 Gary 21st Century (20-6) vs. Elkhart Christian (19-6)

No. 8 Covenant Christian (DeMotte) (23-2) vs. No. 1 Fort Wayne Blackhawk (24-2)

All four are private/charter schools that played a pretty aggressive schedule as a result. Gary 21st Century is a very athletic team that gets up and down the floor. They even have a 4 point loss to defending 1A champion Indianapolis Tindley. FW Blackhawk only lost to Fort Wayne North by 28 and Fort Dwenger in overtime. Covenant Christian avenged one of its two losses when it beat Tri County in the sectional.

Frankfort Regional

No. 3 Southwood (22-3) vs. North Vermillion (15-13)

Seton Catholic (8-18) vs. Southern Wells (11-14)

Southwood did the near impossible and beat Lafayette Central Catholic in a sectional. It was LCC’s first sectional loss since 2001, ending the state’s longest active sectional streak at 16 years (and it nearly got to the state record). This will probably be a very easy field for Southwood, as beating LCC on its home floor was tougher than anything here.

Martinsville Regional

No. 7 Indianapolis Tindley (18-7) vs. Bloomfield (16-9)

No. 4 Morristown (24-1) vs. No. 2 University (21-2)

Hayden Langkabel of Morristown has scored 2,073 points to reach 38th on the state scoring list, and the top 25 (Rich Mount at 2,139) is achievable for the Marian university commit. University is a tough opponent though. They have been excellent all year losing only to Vincennes Lincoln (a 3A school) and Heritage Christian. Morristown’s only loss was to rival Hauser and they got that back in the sectional. As for Tindley, Purdue signee Eric Hunter is seeking a second straight state title and the top 5 all-time in state scoring. He enters the weekend at No. 8 on the state list with 2,531 points. Trevon Bluiett (2,568), Rick Mount (2,595) and Brody Boyd (2,632) are within reach if they get back to the state final (4 games left total).

Loogootee Regional

Edinburgh (17-8) vs. Christian Academy (17-9)

Springs Valley (19-6) vs. No. 6 Barr-Reeve (22-4)

I give the edge to Barr-Reeve here, who is probably the most successful 1A public school in the state. Since we went to Class basketball they have 8 sectionals, 5 regionals, and 5 trips to the state finals with semi-state wins. They only won it all in 2015, however. The team that you could argue with them is bitter rival Loogootee, and I do mean bitter. These teams often meet three times a year (regular season, in-season tournament, and sectional) and each game is a packed house. I have been told that it is probably the best rivalry in the state period. Loogootee has 8 class sectional wins (all in the same sectional as Barr-Reeve), 4 class regionals, 2 semi-states, and the 2012 state title. Loogootee also was good enough to reach the single-class Final Four in 1970 and 1975. Barr-Reeve won all three blood feuds this year 37-33, 56-49 in triple overtime, and 40-39 in the sectional last week. As a result, they will likely win this again this week.

My Picks: Gary 21st Century, Southwood, Indianapolis Tindley, Barr-Reeve