The road to a boys basketball sectional title couldn’t have been much tougher for Columbus North.
Columbus East, which is hosting Class 4A Sectional 14 this year, has a slightly easier draw after receiving a first-round bye when pairings were announced by the IHSAA on Sunday.
The Olympians (12-9) will play at 6 p.m. March 2 against either North (12-9) or Shelbyville (15-8). The Bull Dogs and Golden Bears will meet in the sectional opener at 6 p.m. Feb. 27.
“Shelbyville is a really good team, and North has been playing well lately,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “We just have to fine-tune some things this week and get ready to play our best basketball of the year.”
Shelbyville beat North 64-47 on Dec. 1 and won 79-59 on Jan. 9 at East.
When the Bull Dogs visited the Golden Bears in the third game of the season, North was without injured starters Trey Vincent and Trenton Kelley.
“They’re a very good team,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “We struggled with them early in the season. We were a little undermanned at that time, and they played really well that night. They’re a team that on any given night is capable of shooting the ball really well from a number of different positions. They’re also a team that’s been together a very long time. It’s going to be tough competition for us.”
The draw is especially tough for the Bull Dogs in that they would have to beat Shelbyville, East and Class 4A No. 5 Bloomington South (22-2) to win a sectional title.
North lost to all three of those teams during the regular season. The Bull Dogs fell 44-37 at East and 46-44 against Bloomington South.
“All three teams are good teams,” Ferguson said. “I think East is playing really well right now. They just play really hard. I’m impressed with them, and we just saw Bloomington South. They’re the best team in the sectional, in my opinion.”
The Panthers will play in the second game Feb. 27 against Bloomington North (6-15). The winner will face East Central (14-8) in the second semifinal March 2.
Chitty feels the Olympians caught a little break by getting the bye. East had its four-game winning streak snapped Saturday at Martinsville, its third game in five days.
“I think it’s tough, no matter what, but playing three is a lot,” Chitty said. “I thought that third game this week wore on us a little bit. I think it’s always good to have the bye. You just have to focus on yourself and play the best basketball we can.”
Meanwhile, Class A No. 10 Hauser (16-6) will play Rising Sun (11-10) at around 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 in the opening round of the Southwestern (Shelby) Sectional. The winner will face Class A No. 3 Morristown (20-2) in the semifinals at around 7:30 p.m. March 2.
The Jets, which won a sectional title last season, handed Morristown one of its two losses this season, a 72-65 setback Dec. 1 at Morristown.
“We’re just going to take one game at a time, kind of the same thing as last year,” Hauser coach Griff Roth said. “We know that Morristown is strong. We don’t know a lot about Rising Sun yet, but we’re getting film.”
Also in Class A, Trinity Lutheran (6-15) will play Crothersville (14-7) at around 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 in the first round of the Edinburgh Sectional. The winner will face West Washington (8-14) in the second semifinal March 2. Edinburgh (14-8) will play the winner between Medora (3-18) and Madison Shawe (4-17) in the first semifinal.
Jennings County (5-17) will play Seymour (11-9) at around 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 in the opening round of the Seymour Sectional. The winner will face 4A No. 3 New Albany (20-1) in the second semifinal on March 2.
In Class 3A, Brown County (4-17) will play Edgewood (18-4) Feb. 27 in the Northview Sectional opener. The winner will face South Vermillion (13-9) at 6 p.m. March 2.
South Decatur (4-18) drew a first-round bye in the Southwestern (Hanover) Sectional and will play at around 7:30 p.m. March 2 against the winner between the Class 2A No. 7-ranked host Rebels (20-2) and South Ripley (7-14).
All sectional finals will be played the evening of March 3.