All three of Purdue’s 2019 signees are done in this year’s state tournament, but we still have a few targets in 2020 and 2021 alive. This weekend is the semi-state round and it looks like there will be some very good basketball in all four classes. The 16 remaining teams are just a step away from the State Finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Here are this weekend’s matchups as each semi-state site has two games.
#1 Carmel (24-1) vs. #9 Penn (24-3) at Lafayette Jeff
Carmel has probably had the most consistent program in the state over the last several years. The won state championships in 2012 and 2013 with Ryan Cline playing a supporting role. They have consistently been in the state’s top 5 and were state runner-up last season. Last week they knocked out Isaiah Thompson and Zionsville in the regional final. I have seen them many times over the past few years and they are like a boa constrictor in the fourth quarter if they have a lead. They bleed out possessions and make sure they either get a good look or get to the free throw line. The rarely turn the ball over and they play stingy defense to make any scoring a premium. They feature Butler signee John Michael Malloy and Matt Waddell’s son is a reserve, but this is an excellent TEAM in every sense.
Penn is often more well known for its football program, but they are having a great year under long-time coach Al Rhoades. Their three losses were to Michigan City by 3, Elkhart Memorial by 2, and Mishawaka Marian by 17. They are averaging 72.2 points per game and Carmel gives up just 43.7 per game. That makes for an interesting contrast of style, but Carmel has played the tougher schedule. The Greyhounds have one loss all year against the toughest competition in the state. In the state’s final poll they have wins over #2 Lawrence Central, #3 Warren Central, #7 Zionsville (twice), and #8 Cathedral as well as both Ben Davis and Center Grove in the other 4A Semi-State. Pick: Carmel
Ben Davis (19-7) vs. Center Grove (21-8) at Washington
These two teams were tied for 6th in the ridiculously tough MIC, but they survived a ton of challenges to make it this far. Ben Davis upset Lawrence Central last week, but lost the regular season meeting with Center Grove 56-45. They were still state champion two years ago with Michigan State’s Aaron Henry. Of their seven losses, five were in the MIC and the other two were to Pike and Brownsburg.
Center Grove is led by Indiana signee Trayce Jackson-Davis, who scored 40 in last week’s upset win over Bloomington South. They, too, have a loss to Brownsburg (who ended up beating 3 of the 4 final four teams, yet lost its sectional opener) in addition to five MIC losses. They also lost to Pike and LaPorte LaLumiere. For a combined 15 losses these teams are pretty even, but Jackson-Davis is a huge difference maker. Pick: Center Grove
#3 Culver Academy (23-3) vs. Marion (19-7) at Elkhart
Culver features Trey Galloway, a player Matt Painter has long had an eye on as a shooter in the 2020 class. They are the defending champion in Class 3A and will now have to play up in Class 4A the next two years due to the success factor. Their three losses were to Hamilton Southeastern, Mishawaka Marian, and LaPorte LaLumiere. They avenged the Marian loss in last week’s regional too.
Marion is one of the state’s most storied programs and they feature Jalen Blackmon, younger brother of James Blackmon Jr. and an outstanding sophomore who already has scored more than 1,300 points in his career. He has a chance to break Damon Bailey’s long-standing scoring record in two years. Marion knocked off No. 1 and undefeated Delta in last week’s regional. Six of Marion’s seven losses were to 4A teams, and with two more wins they would set a new record with nine state championships. Pick: Culver Academy
#6 Silver Creek (23-3) vs. Indianapolis Crispus Attucks (20-8) at Seymour
There are going to be points in this one. Silver Creek averages more than 75 per game and Crispus Attucks averages 69.4. Crispus Attucks is a historically reborn program. They won three state championships back in the 50s with the likes of Oscar Robertson, then the school was closed as a high school and sat as a middle school from the mid-80s until the 2008-09 season. They won the 2016-17 3A title and are once again among the state’s elite. Among their losses this year were game to LaPorte LaLumiere, Cathedral, Ben Davis, Warren Central, and Culver Acdemy.
Silver Creek has never been to the state finals and this is their first regional crown since 2000. They have often had to live in the shadows of Jeffersonville and New Albany in southern Indiana. Zane Gross leads them as an Indiana All-Star candidate. They lost to Jeffersonville, Brownstown Central, and Bloomington South, the last two each by a single point. Of all the games in the semi-state this weekend, this could be the best. Both teams like to get up and down, so look for some fireworks. Pick: Crispus Attucks
#4 Frankton (25-3) vs. Andrean (19-8) at Lafayette Jeff
Andrean is a baseball and football powerhouse, but they are seeking their first state finals trip since 2000 and just the third ever. They have played and beaten a lot of the top teams in The Region and only four of their regular season games were against 1A or 2A competition. This is a team that has played up in weight class all year.
Frankton has been one of the top 2A programs in Indiana and the state champion in each of the last three seasons came from their regional. That includes two years ago when Frankton themselves won the title. Their only losses this year were to rival Lapel, Tipton, and Westfield. They have played excellent basketball all season and could be going for three in a row had they not been upset in last year’s sectional by Lapel. Pick: Frankton
#2 Shenandoah (26-1) vs. #8 Linton-Stockton (26-3) at Seymour
Linton-Stockton got out of last weekend’s regional thanks to a morning buzzer-beater over Paoli. They were state runner-up in 2013 and their three losses this season were to Terre Haute North, South Knox, and Bedford North Lawrence. They’re also a strong offensive team at 68 points per game.
Shenandoah’s only loss was a three-point loss in double overtime to 4A regional finalist New Palestine. They are a good enough program to take on their nearest 4A schools and win. Both of these schools are pretty even though. Pick: Shenandoah
#1 Fort Wayne Blackhawk (26-2) vs. #3 Lafayette Central Catholic (24-4) at Elkhart
Blackhawk is the state’s highest scoring team at 80 points per game. They have 5-star sophomore Caleb Furst, whom Purdue has been looking at for a long time. Their only losses were to Indianapolis Manual in December and Homestead on January 8th. Their offense has been especially lethal in recent weeks as they have topped 100 three times since February 11th. That included 114 in their second sectional game.
Central Catholic only played two 1A schools during the regular season, so they are well prepared for the tournament. They lost to Lafayette Jeff by 3 and later beat them by 5. They also lost to Tayson Parker and Northwestern by 3, West Lafayette and Yanni Karlaftis by 1, and to Western by 7. They have yet to give up 50 points in a tournament game, but they had a pretty easy route to this point. Pick: Fort Wayne Blackhawk
#2 Barr-Reeve (25-2) vs. Bloomfield (20-7) at Washington
Barr-Reeve is a 1A powerhouse with state finals appearances in 2002, 2007, 2010, 2014, and 2015. The only year they won it all was 2015, however. Their only losses were to Linton-Stockton back in December and an overtime loss to FW Blackhawk in a December tournament. Seeing them get a rematch with Blackhawk would make for a great first game at next week’s state finals.
This game is a rematch of a regular season game, too. Barr-Reeve beat Bloomfield 42-34 it he final game of the regular season. I expect this game to be the opposite of the Crispus Attucks-Silver Creek game in 3A. The first team to 40 might be the winner. Pick: Barr-Reeve