Saturday is the best day of basketball in the state, and it will come on the two year anniversary of everything going to hell. Sure, you have the Big Ten Tournament semifinals going on in downtown Indy, but it is Regional Saturday. Last week’s 64 sectional winners will travel to 16 sites, where the grueling two-games-in-one-day format will narrow the field down to 16 regional champs, four in each class.
We even get a showcase game in the regional round. Braden Smith, Purdue’s incoming point guard, led Westfield to its first ever sectional crown last week, ending a drought of more than a century, as Westfield is an original IHSAA member dating back to 1903 and the first tournament in 1911. He will face off against future teammate Fletcher Loyer and Homestead in the second morning game of the Class 4A Logansport Regional.
Here is your full look at Saturday’s slate:
South Bend Adams [14-12] vs. #1 Chesterton [26-0]
#6 Penn [23-2] vs. Munster [22-4]
Chesterton is one of two undefeated teams left in the state, but they have now only won five sectionals and have never been past the regional. Penn’s only losses were to Mishawaka Marian and to Valparaiso by a point. Valpo was a very, very good team that took Chesterton to overtime, so a Penn-Chesterton final should be excellent. Don’t underestimate Munster, however.
Kokomo [17-7] vs. Fort Wayne Snider [18-7]
#4 Homestead [22-5] vs. Westfield [21-6]
This is where Purdue fans will direct most of their interest, and for multiple reasons. Westfield and Homestead already played once back in December with Homestead winning 58-55. In the first game rising sophomore Flory Bidunga of Kokomo has brought my beloved Wildkats back to the regional after a school record 8 year drought. In the 120 year history of Kokomo basketball he has both known triple-doubles, and they were in the past few weeks. He scored 30 points, had 14 rebounds, and blocked 10 shots in an upset of Lafayette Jeff in the sectional final. He reminds me a lot of JaJuan Johnson. Kokomo did lose to Westfield by 12 in early December, while Snider has a five point win over Homestead.
Ben Davis [21-6] vs. #7 Mount Vernon (Fortville) [22-2]
#8 Indianapolis Cathedral [22-6] vs. Terre Haute North [23-4]
This is a sneaky good field. The only regular season matchup was a 67-64 Ben Davis win over Cathedral. Mount Vernon is a bit of an outsider, but they haven’t lost since January 4th 87-78 at Westfield. They scored at least 82 points in all three sectional games. Three of Terre Haute North’s losses came since January 29th, while Cathedral and Ben Davis have been quite battle tested in the Indy area. Cathedral is the state’s highest scoring team at just under 74 per game.
Evansville North [16-10] vs. Bloomington North [22-3]
Floyd Central [20-4] vs. Franklin [11-14]
Bloomington North survived overtime in its last two games of the sectional, including the championship over bitter rival Bloomington South. They are normally among the state’s best. Floyd Central is looking for its first regional title since 1989 when they had Pat Graham. This certainly looks like it will be a Bloomington North-Floyd Central final. North has played and beaten all three other teams in the field, though it only beat Floyd Central 51-48.
SOUTH BEND WASHINGTON
#2 Mishawaka Marian [21-3] vs. Lighthouse CPA [8-12]
Culver Academy [18-7] vs. Peru [20-2]
Peru comes in with its best team since the Kyle Macy days, and they are the lone public school in the field. They have a nice early season win over Kokomo and only lost to Warsaw and Maconaquah during the season. Marian is the highest rated team left in 3A, while Culver Academy has tested itself against multiple strong 4A schools like Chesterton and Westfield. Lighthouse CPA, a northwest Indiana charter school, is a first time sectional champion.
Yorktown [10-14] vs. #3 NorthWood [24-2]
#8 Leo [19-5] vs. #7 Norwell [22-4]
Yorktown is a big underdog here with three other ranked teams in the field. Leo beat Norwell by 7 in the regular season, so their game should be really good. NorthWood is a strong defensive team, holding opponents under 43 points per game. They definitely have the easier path to the final. Leo has experience, having won this regional a year ago.
Brebeuf Jesuit [18-7] vs. Danville [20-5]
Beech Grove [18-6] vs. #5 Brownstown Central [22-3]
Brebeuf is always a school whose record doesn’t reflect how good they are because of who they play in Indy. They only lost to Cathedral by 2 in overtime and they also lost close games to good teams in Zionsville, Mt. Vernon, and New Castle. They have an 8 point win over Beech Grove for the only potential rematch in the field. Brownstown Central has won 10 in a row, including a game over Floyd Central from up in 4A.
Evansville Bosse [17-9] vs. Lawrenceburg [20-7]
North Harrison [19-3] vs. #4 Sullivan [23-2]
Sullivan’s only losses were by 2 to Terre Haute North, a 4A sectional champ, and by 2 in overtime to a very good 1A team in North Daviess. That was the regular season finale, and they won both their sectional games in overtime, so this team has played with fire of late. One of North Harrison’s three losses was in double overtime to Brownstown Central. They have won 11 in a row since a loss to Floyd Central.
North Judson [21-5] vs. #4 Fort Wayne Blackhawk [22-4]
Hammond Noll [11-12] vs. #3 Central Noble [25-2]
Blackhawk, the alma mater of our own Caleb Furst, is the only defending state champion still alive and they are playing for a coach that is battling cancer. They have not lost a tournament game since 2018, as they won it all in 2019, won a sectional in 2020 before that tournament was cancelled, and they won it last year. Central Noble has a player Purdue fans will be very familiar with soon, as Connor Essegian has signed to play at Wisconsin next year.
Tipton [17-6] vs. #1 Monroe Central [24-0]
Rensselaer Central [12-12] vs. #6 Carroll (Flora) [22-1]
Monroe Central is the only other undefeated team left along with Chesterton. They won their first sectional since 2010 and that was also the only time they won a regional. Carroll’s lone loss was by a point to a very good 1A team in North White, but they haven’t played too tough of a schedule. Those two should meet in the final, but Tipton is always a well coached team.
Southmont [19-6] vs. #9 Eastern Hancock [20-5]
Triton Central [13-11] vs. University [15-9]
Southmont won only its second sectional ever and first since 1994 to get here. University took out Myles Colvin’s Heritage Christian in last week’s sectional final. Eastern Hancock won its first sectional since 2008 and they have the state’s largest average margin of victory at 23.24 points per game.
Forest Park [14-10] vs. Paoli [16-9]
Providence [17-6] vs. #5 Linton-Stockton [22-4]
Forest Park and Paoli get a rematch of a 54-49 regular season win for Forest Park. Linton-Stockton was a state finalist in 2019, so they are a program with a decent amount of recent success. Forest Park has also been very good under the class system.
#5 North White [21-3] vs. #1 Gary 21st Century [21-4]
Fremont [17-8] vs. Triton [18-7]
Gary 21st Century is a high scoring team at nearly 74 points per game and they played a very tough schedule of 4A and 3A teams. Their only losses were to Lebanon, Ben Davis, Valparaiso, and Hammond Central. North White hasn’t lost since December 29th and is in the midst of the best season in school history. They have never won a regional.
Southwood [14-11] vs. Lafayette Central Catholic [17-9]
Liberty Christian [17-9] vs. Blue River [15-10]
Central Catholic doesn’t have any Anthrops left, but they are arguably the most successful school in the class era with a record 22 class sectional titles and 10 class regional titles. They’ve also made five state finals appearances in that time too. They are a big favorite here.
#9 Indianapolis Lutheran [18-5] vs. Indianapolis Metropolitan [13-12]
#10 Jac-Cen-Del [20-5] vs. #8 Bloomfield [20-6]
This field is about as evenly matched as they come, and the only regular season meeting was a three point Lutheran win over Indy Metro. That should make for three very good games, as there is no clear favorite or underdog among these four teams.
#2 North Daviess [23-3] vs. #7 Edinburgh [22-3]
Borden [16-7] vs. Springs Valley [22-3]
North Davies is a bit of a surprise even with their lofty ranking, as they got out of the always tough Loogootee-Barr Reeve sectional last week. That means you must take them very seriously. Springs Valley is going for its first regional title since 1964, which was well before even Larry Bird was there. That is the longest drought of any previous regional winner in the field.
TEAMS SEEKING THEIR FIRST REGIONAL CROWN:
Beech Grove, Carroll, Chesterton, Fremont, Lighthouse CPA, North White, Southmont, Westfield