Many coaches might have thought it was bad news, the way the bracket fell for the Columbus East boys basketball team when the Indiana High School Athletic Association announced its state basketball pairings Sunday.
Olympians coach Brent Chitty, though, was doing his best Dick Vitale impression.
“It can be exciting, it can be heartbreaking,” Chitty said of the tournament. “You just want your kids to be playing their best basketball so they can put it all out there.”
Columbus East received a bye in the Bloomington South 4A Sectional, but the Olympians will face the winner of the Bloomington South-Columbus North game that will be March 3.
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East’s first game takes place on March 6.
Columbus North defeated East 65-51 during the regular season. Bloomington South, the sectional tournament favorite and the No. 7-ranked team in the state by the The Associated Press, downed the Olympians 62-42 in January. Either way, East will be facing a team that handled it during the regular season.
The other half of the bracket appears to be much easier with Bloomington North facing Shelbyville and East Central getting a bye and facing the winner.
No matter to Chitty, who knows that his team has won four in a row and appears to be peaking at the right time.
“Having a bye and playing two games in a week instead of three can help you,” Chitty said. “But it’s the old cliché, you’ve got to win the first one.
“We know that North and South are two pretty good teams, even with North’s tragedy (star Josh Speidel sustained critical injuries in an auto accident Feb. 1). North just competed well enough to beat Bloomington North, and that’s a pretty good team, too.
“Of course, we also know that South (17-2) only has been beaten twice all year and one of those times was in the opening game.”
Chitty said he will spend most of his energy keeping his own team moving in a positive direction, such as the Olympians’ 79-65 win at Madison on Friday in which four players scored in double figures.
Although he is pleased with his team’s progress, he said all the teams change as they head into the playoffs.
“It’s like anything else,” Chitty said. “We’re a different team, they’re a different team. You hope that is good.
“We have focused on what we can do as a team. We also have focused on taking our game from practice and transferring it to the game.”
Chitty said his players, who have put together a 12-8 record, were disappointed that took so long to come together, and yet, they finally did.
“We never quit, and what a great lesson,” Chitty said. “We’ve put ourselves in position to be competitive.”
The Bull Dogs, meanwhile, played solid basketball in beating Bloomington North 71-68 on Friday, a sign that Bloomington South will have its hands full in the opening round.
A big plus for the Bull Dogs has been the fact senior wing Trent Larson has been able to play more minutes with his damaged knee.
“With addition of Trent and with Josh (Speidel) on their minds, the kids are playing for a purpose,” North coach Jason Speer said. “And we’re very familiar with Bloomington South and what it takes to compete with them.”
In another section, both Hauser and South Decatur drew first-round games in the South Decatur Class A sectional.
South Decatur faces Rising Sun in the 6 p.m. game March 3 and Hauser plays Jac-Cen-Del. South Decatur (1-17) notched its only win of the season, 63-51, over Rising Sun. Hauser downed Jac-Cen-Del 63-51 during the regular season.
Edinburgh hosts a Class A sectional and will face Waldron in first round play. The Lancers beat Waldron 71-58 in the regular season.
Among other local teams, Seymour hosts a 4A sectional and faces New Albany in the first round; Jennings County plays Bedford North Lawrence in the first round of the Seymour Sectional, Brown County meets Edgewood in the opening round of the West Vigo 3A Sectional; and Trinity Lutheran drew a bye in the Borden Class A Sectional.
Local pairings for state basketball tournament sectionals
Rounds will be held March 3, 6, 7 (Games 1-2 will be held March 3, Games 3-4 on March 6, title games on March 7)
Bloomington South Sectional
Game 1: Bloomington North vs. Shelbyville
Game 2: Columbus North vs. Bloomington South
Game 3: East Central vs. Game 1 winner
Game 4: Columbus East vs. Game 2 winner
Game 1: Seymour vs. New Albany
Game 2: Jennings County vs. Bedford North Lawrence
Game 3: Floyd Central vs. Game 1 winner
Game 4: Jeffersonville vs. Game 2 winner
West Vigo Sectional
Game 1: Northview vs. West Vigo
Game 2: Edgewood vs. Brown County
Game 3: Owen Valley vs. Game 1 winner
Game 4: Game 2 winner gets bye
South Decatur Sectional
Game 1: Rising Sun vs. South Decatur
Game 2: Hauser vs. Jac-Cen-Del
Game 3: Shawe Memorial vs. Game 1 winner
Game 4: Oldenburg Academy vs. Game 2 winner
Game 1: West Washington vs. Crothersville
Game 2: Orleans vs. Springs Valley
Game 3: Trinity Lutheran vs. Game 1 winner
Game 4: Medora vs. Game 2 winner
Edinburgh Sectional (8 team sectional, Rounds 1-2 March 3, Rounds 3-4 March 4, Rounds 5-6 March 6
Game 1: Indianapolis Arlington vs. Indianapolis Lutheran
Game 2: Edinburgh vs. Waldron
Game 3: Greenwood Christian vs. Baptist Academy
Game 4: Southwestern vs. Morristown
Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner