I love regional Saturday, and it is a shame that crowds will be limited at some places. I say some places because judging by some sectional highlight videos it was business as usual last week. My thoughts on that aside, the beauty of “Four teams enter a gym, one team leaves” over the span of 12 hours or so is the ultimate test. There are some really good ones in this round too:
CLASS 4A BRACKET
Valparaiso [20-5] vs. South Bend Riley [18-6]
#10 Gary West [20-4] vs. Elkhart [14-11]
This lost a little luster because #4 rated South Bend Adams was upset in the sectional by South bend Riley, but there are still some good matchups. A Gary West vs. Valpariso final would be a rematch of a 57-52 regular season win by Valpo. Gary West has the #24 recruit in the 2022 class in Jalen Washington, who is being recruited pretty hard by Purdue. Blake Lesley of Riley is headed to Notre Dame and is the #92 recruit for 2021 nationally.
#1 Homestead [25-0] vs. #2 Carmel [22-2]
Carroll (Fort Wayne) [18-6] vs. #8 Lafayette Jeff [24-2]
The first game of the day is a banger and probably the best one in the state all day long. Our own Fletcher Loyer and undefeated Homestead take on Carmel, who has dominated the last decade with three state championships since 2012. Carmel’s only losses were to Cathedral by a point and Fishers by a point. Lafayette Jeff is also a high flying team averaging 78.7 points per game, second in the state. Do not overlook them, as they are led by Northwestern commit Brooks Barnhizer, who is rated #142 for 2021. We will also see Homestead’s Luke Goode, #107 for 2021, at Illinois. Former Purdue guard Matt Waddell’s son Brian leads Carmel. Carmel is 4th in the state defensively at 39.33 points per game given up while Homestead is 6th in scoring at 76.2 per game. Beware Carmel with a fourth quarter lead. They are like a boa constrictor in that they play extremely smart, patient basketball, don’t turn it over, have a closing defense, and they don’t miss free throws. If you’re down 5 against them in the 4th quarter it feels like 500.
#3 Lawrence North [25-2] vs. Ben Davis [14-11]
Mount Vernon (Fortville) [17-6] vs. #6 Plainfield [23-2]
Lawrence North is the big favorite here with D’Ante Davis headed to Louisville and C.J. Gunn headed to Indiana. both are top 150 recruits for 2022. Plainfield has quietly put together a pretty solid season with one of its two losses coming against Trey Kaufman and Silver Creek. They won their first sectional in 22 years.
Bloomington South [23-4] vs. Jeffersonville [15-6]
Center Grove [14-6] vs. Evansville Reitz [16-4]
Bloomington South here is always tough, but so is Jeffersonville. This is a regional full of teams that have had solid seasons, but they are not among the state’s top 10. The winner is a likely heavy underdog to Lawrence North, who is the strong favorite to come out of the south half of class 4A.
CLASS 3A BRACKET
SOUTH BEND WASHINGTON
#5 South Bend St. Joseph [19-4] vs. Twin Lakes [21-4]
#1 Hammond [17-1] vs. New Prairie [19-7]
Hammond’s only loss was the season opener by one point to Lawrence North, so they are very good. They are beating opponents by 28 points per game on average and they have a 10 point win over Class 4A top 10 Gary West. The records look close in South Bend St. Joseph and Twin Lakes, but the two met in a regular season tournament and St. Joseph won easily 98-61. JR Konieczny is the #127 national recruit and is headed to Notre Dame from St. Joseph.
NorthWood [15-8] vs. New Castle [9-15]
Mississinewa [17-8] vs. Leo #9 [21-4]
The New Castle Fieldhouse is hosting a regional as God intended, but the host Trojans have the worst record of any of the remaining 64 teams. Mississinewa won its first sectional title since 1954, as for years they had to suffered under the cruelty of the Marion Giants. Theirs was the longest sectional drought broken, as we had no first time sectional winners.
Northview [17-7] vs. Beech Grove [18-5]
#6 Guerin Catholic [19-3] vs. Greencastle [21-6]
Guerin is probably the strong favorite here with several good wins over Indy area teams. The same is true for Beech Grove. Both of them had several common opponents, but did not face each other.
#4 Heritage Hills [19-3] vs. #2 Silver Creek [21-4]
Connersville [17-7] vs. #7 Sullivan [21-3]
The Hatchet House in Washington is another venue that should host regionals in perpetuity, and it has a good one this year. Purdue’s Trey Kaufman has a very tough test with two ranked teams in his way. They are averaging 77.4 points per game, third in the state. This should be an excellent regional.
CLASS 2A BRACKET
Boone Grove [18-6] vs. Bowman Academy [11-12]
Churubusco [21-4] vs. #1 Fort Wayne Blackhawk [24-3]
Caleb Furst leads the state’s highest scoring team at 83.56 points per game. They have played a statewide schedule of tough teams including Silver Creek, Homestead, Cathedral, Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, and more. They have knocked off a ton of 4A teams, but do not discount the always tough Bowman Academy. They always play a similar “take all comers” schedule and are tougher than their record.
#8 Blackford [23-4] vs. Wapahani [18-7]
Rossville [17-7] vs. #10 Rochester [18-1]
All eyes are on Blackford’s Luke Brown, who is headed to Stetson. He is sitting at 2,927 career points and it is entirely possible he gets to 3,000 on Saturday. He would be only the fifth player to do so joining Damon Bailey (3,134), Marion Pierce (3,019 before there were three-pointers), DeShaun Thomas (3,018) and Romeo Langford (3,002). He needs to average 52 points per game and reach the state finals to break Bailey’s record, but don’t put it past him. He dropped 50 on Taylor in the sectional final. Had he not lost 8 games to injury as a freshman or at least one (possibly 2 or 3) last year in the tournament due to the pandemic (they had won the sectional and were slated to play in the regional) he would have easily broken Bailey’s record. As it stands he has a very good chance at finishing second and could even get that high on Saturday.
#5 Parke Heritage [24-3] vs. Triton Central [13-8]
#2 Shenandoah [24-3] vs. #7 Covenant Christian [22-4]
Shenandoah vs. Covenant Christian is a sneaky good game, as Covenant Christian has played a pretty tough schedule with several 4A wins. Shenandoah is a worthy #2 and one of their few losses was to Furst’s Ft. Wayne Blackhawk. Park Heritage is a good enough team that played Lafayette Jeff to a 5 point game in one of their three losses.
Paoli [16-5] vs. Southridge [15-10]
Southwestern (Hanover) [21-5] vs. #6 Linton-Stockton [23-4]
Linton-Stockton is going for the double as their girls team won the 2A title in convincing fashion late last month. For the record, Silver Creek can do the same as their girls won the 3A title as well.
CLASS 1A BRACKET
Triton [19-5] vs. Caston [10-15]
Fremont [12-11] vs. #3 Kouts [26-2]
Kouts loves to run, as they are #4 in the state in scoring at 76.54 points per game. Their only losses were to Bloomington South and Andrean and they have played a lot of together teams in preparation for this year. They haven’t won a regional since 2001 but are the heavy favorite here.
Cowan [15-8] vs. Lafayette Central Catholic [8-10]
Seton Catholic [9-9] vs. Southwood [15-10]
This is perhaps one of the weakest fields in the state, but Central Catholic is another “plays a tough schedule” team that is always stronger than they look. Cowan won just its third sectional ever and second in a row, as they were in the Muncie Central sectional for ages and only won it once, in 1976
Southwestern (Shelbyville) [13-10] vs. Bethesda Christian [18-7]
#8 Indianapolis Tindley [16-9] vs. Shakamak [10-12]
Another weaker field where Eric Hunter Jr.’s old school is the strong favorite. they also play a tough Indy schedule and often hold their own. They are even one of two teams to beat 4A Lafayette Jeff.
#1 Barr-Reeve [25-2] vs. Trinity Lutheran [12-13]
Lanesville [17-7] vs. Evansville Day [13-5]
It’s the Barr-Reeve Invitational on the floor of their bitter rival Loogootee. Barr-Reve has made the trip to Indy for the state finals six times since 2002 and probably would have gone for a seventh time last year. They are just a machine int hat elementary school kids at their small school begin learning from the high school kids, and they just grow into their roles to eventually take their turn as a state power. Both of their losses were in overtime to Carmel (by 2) and Ft. Wayne Blackhawk (by 9). this is a team that, if we had the old one class tourney, could go very far even in that.