Indiana high school boys basketball action kicks off Tuesday. Let’s preview the action in Class 4A.
Sectional 9 at Carmel
Zionsville (18-4) has won nine straight games, including a 59-53 victory over Noblesville on February 2. The Millers have lost three of their four games to teams in the sectional, and Zionsville has the horses to deliver their 5th loss. It’ll be a close contest, but I like the Eagles to seriously contend for their first sectional title since 1995.
In case you haven’t tuned in or read anything out of the Indianapolis media over the past week, Carmel (14-6) is reeling after the suspensions of four of the team’s senior players. They did manage to win their last two games, but with all the extenuating circumstances they can’t be counted on to make much of a run in the tournament. Fishers (11-9), on the other hand, recently beat Noblesville, but then dropped their final two games. They have the talent to pull the upset, and with all the distractions affecting the Greyhounds, that’s exactly what I expect them to do.
Westfield High School (Westfield, Indiana) vs. Winner of Carmel/Fishers
Westfield (12-8), didn’t face Carmel, but they had an epic, six overtime game against Fishers early in January. The Shamrocks won that game by two points, and they’re capable of competing with any team in their bracket. They’re also capable of self destructing, as they did in their 71-37 loss to Noblesville a month ago.
#12 Hamilton Southeastern High School (Fishers, Indiana) vs. Winner of Noblesville/Zionsville
The Royals (17-3) lost to both Carmel and Fishers, but dominated every other opponent. Led by a starting lineup that consists of four seniors and sophomore standout Gary Harris, HSE is a strong favorite to take home their second sectional title in as many seasons.
Prediction: Carmel is a devastated team, and Fishers and Westfield were wildly inconsistent all season, but one of those three teams will take on Hamilton Southeastern in the finals. My money’s on Fishers, but it won’t matter as HSE has the most experience and talent in the field.
Sectional 10 at Lawrence Central
Warren Central High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) vs. Broad Ripple High School (Indianapolis, Indiana)
The Warren Central Warriors (14-8) have held their own against some of the state’s top competition, but they were unable to beat highly rated teams like North Central, Bloomington South, Center Grove and Pike. They’re a solid unit, but not likely to emerge as the best in this field. Broad Ripple (16-6) racked up some impressive wins on their way to 16 victories — the city title game against Howe was an instant classic — but they struggled with big teams outside Indy. Robert Patterson will need some help if the Rockets hope to make a deep postseason run.
Arlington High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) vs. Lawrence Central High School (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Lawrence Central (7-12) beat Arlington (4-15) in the opening game of the season 52-43. Neither school is a threat to contend in the tough sectional, and the winner will struggle mightily in their second round game.
Cathedral High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) vs. Lawrence North High School (Indianapolis Indiana)
Cathedral (12-8) hasn’t made it out of the sectional since 1998, and their current four game losing streak doesn’t offer much hope that will change this year. The Wildcats of Lawrence North (14-7) began the season with championship dreams, but they’ve struggled against top competition. At the very least, their talent should be enough to carry them through the first couple of games, but they’ll need to make massive adjustments if they want to keep up with the North Central’s of the world.
#3 North Central High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) vs. Warren Central/Broad Ripple
Ranked 3rd in the state entering the tournament, North Central (19-3) rebounded from a stumble against Center Grove to pound Danville, Brownsburg, and Harding to finish out their season. They didn’t win the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference title, a factor that will provide motivation, but they’re clearly the top team in this bracket.
Arlington/Lawrence Central vs. Cathedral/Lawrence North
Prediction: It’s North Central’s to lose. The next best team, Lawrence North, was defeated in consecutive games by the Panthers earlier in the year, and nobody else has the talent to compete.
Sectional 11 at Greenwood
Southport High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) vs. #8 Center Grove High School (Greenwood, Indiana)
Southport’s (4-15) won three of their last five games, but they lost 13 in a row before that, so don’t read too much into the recent success. Anything other than a one-and-done would be very surprising. Center Grove (17-3) is the MIC champions, and they’re as hot as any team in the state right now. The Trojans haven’t been to the regionals in 16 years, but they’re the overwhelming favorite to come out of Sectional 11.
Whiteland High School (Whiteland, Indiana) vs. Perry Meridian High School (Indianapolis, Indiana)
It was a tough year for the Whiteland Warriors (8-13). They showed well in many of their performances, but couldn’t ever seem to take it to the next level. Their first round game is winnable, but that’s about as far as Whiteland will get. Perry Meridian (12-9) hasn’t put together a winning streak of more than two games since the opening week of the season, and they’re coming off an embarrassing three-point loss to Southport. They lost by 10 to Whiteland when the two schools met earlier this year.
Franklin Central High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) vs. Greenwood High School (Greenwood, Indiana)
Franklin Central (12-8) is the defending sectional champ, and they should have no trouble steamrolling a weak Greenwood (5-16) squad. The Flashes lost by four to Center Grove earlier in the year, but beat Franklin by six in January. Greenwood needs a miracle to advance.
Franklin High School (Franklin, Indiana) vs. Southport/Center Grove
After being awarded a bye through the first round, Franklin (14-6) will likely face Center Grove in their first game. The Grizzly Cubs shocked the Trojans in the finals of the Johnson County Tournament earlier in the year, but then lost by 13 to CG a few weeks ago. Although they’re not as talented as the Trojans, rivalry games almost always produce exciting results.
Whiteland/Perry Meridian vs. Franklin Central/Greenwood
Prediction: The game against Franklin will be a tough one for Center Grove, but as long as they play up to their abilities, they’ll be facing Franklin Central in the title game. The game should be as close as it was the first time the two teams met, but all signs point to Center Grove advancing.
Sectional 12 at Arsenal Tech
Emmerich Manual High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) vs. Brownsburg High School (Brownsburg, Indiana)
Wednesday: Butler University recruit Chrishawn Hopkins leads the Indy area in scoring at 25.3 points per game, but it hasn’t been enough to turn Manual into a winning team. They did beat Brownsburg (5 15) 56-47 on the Bulldogs home court in mid-January though, and Hopkins’ high-flying act should be enough to propel the Redskins into the second round.
Ben Davis High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) vs. Avon High School (Avon, Indiana)
Ben Davis (12-7) is still in the rebuilding process, but they closed out the season on a six game winning streak, which started with a 63-53 victory over Avon (12-8), their first round opponent. The Giants will have to contend with a tough Orioles front line in order to advance to Friday’s second round game. With the way they’re playing of late, they look up to the challenge.
Arsenal Tech High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) vs. Decatur Central High School (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Arsenal (6-15) hasn’t won in over in a month, and Decatur Central (5-14) has just five wins on the year. Neither will have an impact on this sectional.
Pike High School (Indianapolis, Indiana) vs. Manual/Brownsburg
Pike started the season with an 8-1 record, lost four of five games at one point during the middle of the year, and then closed with big wins over Franklin Central, Lawrence Central and Warren Central. They beat both Manual and Brownsburg earlier in the season.
Ben Davis/Avon vs. Arsenal Tech/Decatur Central
Prediction: Pike should be a lock for the championship game, with the winner of Ben Davis and Avon being their likely opponent. The Red Devils beat both this year, but of the two, the Giants would present a much tougher matchup.