With the Indiana High School basketball state tournament quickly nearing, let’s take a look at the weekend that was for some of the area’s top teams, as well as how their sectional draw shapes up.
FRIDAY: The North Central Panthers had won 11 consecutive games, including the Marion County Tournament, heading into their final Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference game Friday night against Center Grove. The Panthers needed a win to wrap up the conference title, but the Trojans had other ideas.
Getting off to a tremendously slow start, North Central found themselves trailing by 21 points at halftime. A furious finish saw them cut the lead to one point with just minutes remaining, but Center Grove, bolstered by a raucous home crowd, had just enough left in the tank to send Doug Mitchell’s squad to their first loss since December. Senior forward Terone Johnson led the way with 23 points, while sophomore stud D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera chipped in 13.
SATURDAY: The Panthers had no time to sulk after squandering their shot at a MIC title, as they had to host Class 3A #1 Danville on Saturday night. The matchup was billed as a battle between future teammates, with North Central’s Johnson facing off against Danville big man Travis Carroll. Both players have signed to play for Matt Painter at Purdue University next season.
Johnson emerged the victor on this night, leading all scorers with 30 points, helping North Central bounce back with a 76-63 victory. The game was much closer than the final score indicated though. Danville trailed by just five points with 6:31 remaining when Carroll picked up his fourth foul. He sat for the next three minutes, and Danville was unable to get any closer thanks to the Panthers perfect free-throw shooting in the final period. Smith-Rivera added 19 points, — 12 in the second half — and Johnson’s younger brother, Ronnie Johnson, had 13.
FRIDAY: Center Grove is in the midst of one of their finest seasons ever, and Friday’s home victory over North Central was by far the signature moment. Not only did they knock off the #2 ranked team in the state, but in doing so, they secured at least a share of the MIC championship (they need to beat Warren Central on Tuesday to win the title outright). The win also marked coach Cliff Hawkins’ 400th victory of his career. Junior Andy Smeathers scored a career-high 23 points, and Jonny Marlin poured in 16 for the Trojans, who had four players score in double figures.
SECTIONAL PAIRING: Center Grove takes on Southport High School in the first game, and, assuming they win, they’ll take on Franklin High School in the rubber match between the two schools the next round.
SATURDAY: Zionsville used a 25-point third quarter to propel them to a 64-42 victory over Crawfordsville High School (Crawfordsville, Indiana). The Eagles had a very balanced offensive attack with six players scoring between seven and 10 points. They’ve now won eight straight games.
SECTIONAL PAIRING: Noblesville, who the Eagles beat by six on February 2, will be the first round opponent. The Millers knocked off Zionsville in the opening game of the sectional last season.
FRIDAY: Noblesville continued their struggles against Hamilton County opponents, falling 69-65 in overtime to the Fishers High School Tigers Friday night. Of the Millers four losses this season, three have come to teams who call Hamilton County home.
Noblesville looked to be on their way to an easy win, holding an 11 point lead to start the fourth quarter, but a 12-0 Fishers run to open the final period quickly negated Noblesville’s advantage. Although they managed to right the ship enough to force overtime, the Millers never held a lead in the extra session. Andrew Lively and Jake Yeary paced Noblesville with 14 and 13 points respectively. J.P. Pena was the high man for the Tigers with 20 points.
SECTIONAL PAIRING: The Millers open sectional play against Zionsville , who they lost to on February 2. If they can get by the Eagles, they’ll move on to face Hamilton Southeastern, who beat the Millers by two in early December.
FRIDAY: The Royals secured their 16th victory on the season — the first time they’ve reached that win plateau since 2003-04 — by beating Westfield High School (Westfield, Indiana) in a low scoring affair, 47-37. Up until their three-point loss to Carmel last week, Hamilton Southeastern had gone nearly two months without suffering a defeat, and the senior dominated squad seems to peaking at exactly the right time. Will Kleinrichert was the only Royals player in double-digits with 11 points.
SECTIONAL PAIRING: Hamilton Southeastern received a first round bye and will play the winner of Zionsville and Noblesville, both of whom they beat during the regular season.
FRIDAY: Times have been very tough for the Carmel Greyhounds basketball team of late. In addition to losses in three of their past four games, Carmel’s had to deal with suspensions to three of its senior players, banned from playing after a bullying incident on the team bus. The lone remaining senior starter, Alex Payne, led the Greyhounds with 16 points, and blossoming sophomore center A.J. Hammons added 11 as Carmel got back on the winning track against Terre Haute South (Terre Haute, Indiana). Trailing by two midway through the third quarter, Carmel reeled off a 10-0 run to surge ahead of the Patriots, and then, after Terre Haute cut the lead to three in the fourth quarter, closed with a 16-4 run to end the game.
SECTIONAL PAIRING: Hamilton County rival Fishers is the first round opponent. Carmel beat the suddenly feisty Tigers 56-35 earlier in the season. With a win, the Greyhounds would move on to face Westfield in the second game.
FRIDAY: Danville cruised to their 18th victory on the season — and 23rd consecutive in the regular season — against Crawfordsville. The Warriors held the Athenians to 26 percent shooting from the field, while shooting 56 percent themselves, and held Crawfordsville under 8 points in three of the four quarters on their way to a 64-30 victory. Travis Carroll was his usual dominant self, scoring 22 points, and Tyler Hall contributed 14 to lead Danville.
SATURDAY: Although they suffered their first defeat of the year against heavily favored North Central, the fact the Warriors kept it close deep into the contest is something they can hang their hats on. They turned the ball over 17 times against the Panthers full-court press, something coach Brian Barber will undoubtedly look to fix before the postseason, but remained competitive throughout, and Carroll, despite being saddled with foul trouble, scored 25 points and hauled in 10 rebounds against one of the state’s best post players in Terone Johnson. If they can hang with North Central, by far the most talented team they’ll face this season, things look good for a deep run in the upcoming state tournament for the Warriors.
SECTIONAL PAIRING: Danville drew a rematch with Crawfordsville in the sectional opener, and a win would pit them against Western Boone in the second round.
FRIDAY: Either Mount Vernon has the stoutest defense in the state of Indiana, or somebody forgot to tell the players for New Palestine High School (New Palestine, Indiana) that the object of the game is to score the basketball. The Marauders held a 6-0 lead after one quarter of play, and it was 19-0 at halftime. The pace picked up considerably in the second half, as Mount Vernon, led by Daniel Turner and DeArmond Davis, outscored the Pirates 31-23. The Marauders are undefeated in the Hoosier Heritage conference, and have now won 13 consecutive games.
SECTIONAL PAIRING: The Marauders enter postseason play as the heavy favorites to take home the Sectional 27 title. If they hope to do so, they’ll need to avenge last season’s sectional defeat at the hands of Hamilton Heights (Arcadia, Indiana) in the first round.
# 12 T.C. Howe Community High School (Indianapolis, Indiana)
FRIDAY: The high-flying Howe Hornets got off to a great start against Muncie South (Muncie, Indiana), jumping out to an immediate 10-0 lead on their way to scoring 50 first half points. Howe, who notched their 13th win in their last 14 games, placed four players in double-digits, led by Andre Hampton’s 26 and Jordan Manuel’s 19.
SATURDAY: Unfortunately, the talented Howe team couldn’t hang with the Class 4A Lawrence North Wildcats on Saturday. Louisville recruits Michael Chandler and Ryan Taylor combined for 35 points and 22 rebounds, and Perin Ashley threw in 21 points for Lawrence North, as the Wildcats won 72-58. Hampton was again the high point man for the Hornets, scoring 25, while point guard Alvin Boutte had 12 points, six assists and five steals.
SECTIONAL PAIRING: Howe faces Bishop Chatard High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) in the first round. The Hornets recently dismantled the Trojans 71-45 in the city tournament. If they win, they’ll take on Beech Grove High School (Beech Grove, Indiana).
NO AREA TEAMS RANKED
#13 Irvington Preparatory Academy (Indianapolis, Indiana)
SATURDAY: In just their second year in existence, the Irvington Ravens have amassed a 14-3 record and a #13 ranking. Covenant Christian (DeMotte) was no match for the surging Ravens on Saturday night, as Chas Eldridge scored 19 and Dontar Sargent added 17 points in the 73-39 victory for Irvington.
SECTIONAL PAIRING: Irvington drew a first round bye, and they’ll play the winner of Southwestern High School (Shelbyville, Indiana) and Eminence High School.