The Columbus North boys basketball team (18-5) will begin its quest for a second consecutive Class 4A sectional championship March 4 with a 6 p.m. game against sectional host Shelbyville.
“Once you get over that hump and are able to do it (win a sectional title), I think the players know what it takes,” said North coach Jason Speer. “I think our kids will be focused.”
Columbus East (15-3) faces East Central in the 7:30 p.m. contest at Shelbyville High School.
Bloomington North and Bloomington South drew byes in the pairings that were announced Sunday by the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
Bloomington North will face the winner of the Columbus North-Shelbyville game at 6 p.m. March 7. Bloomington South faces the Columbus East-East Central winner at 7:30 p.m. March 7.
The title game will be at 7:30 p.m. March 8.
Both Columbus schools will be heavy favorites to advance to the sectional semifinals. North defeated Shelbyville 64-50 during the regular season, while East crushed East Central 70-42. North edged Bloomington North 64-61 in the regular season, while East lost to Bloomington South 58-48 for those hoping that the two Columbus schools will meet in the championship game.
“It seems like everyone is playing their best basketball now, us included,” Speer said. “I like where we are offensively and defensively.”
However, Speer expects another tough game against the Golden Bears on their home court.
“Shelbyville has a lot of experience, especially at the guard positions,” Speer said. “When we played them the first time, we got up by a lot but they fought back and got within four.”
Both East and North have impressive resumes as they head into the tournament. The Olympians won the heads-up match 43-39 on
Dec. 20 against North.
East also has an impressive victory against a 16-3 Batesville team, that only had two other losses this season, both against defending state Class 3A champion Greensburg.
That being said, East has put forth a few head-scratching efforts, such as a 49-45 loss to an average Franklin squad and being taken to overtime by sectional opponent Shelbyville.
North’s most impressive effort might have been when it took apart Richmond 81-60. Richmond finished the regular season 18-2. That goes along with a 70-66 win against Cathedral, which has been ranked all season.
From across the state, 403 schools were paired Sunday for the 104th annual IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament. The regional round will be conducted March 15 and the semistate round will be played March 22. The state finals are scheduled for March 29 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Carmel is the two-time defending 4A champion and is ranked No. 1 going into this season’s playoffs by both The Associated Press and the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.
Jennings County (12-8) drew a great seed as it opens Seymour Sectional 4A play in a 7:30 p.m. March 4 game against Jeffersonville, a team that it beat 72-60 during the regular season. If the Panthers get past Jeffersonville, they will move into a semifinal game against a 2-15 Seymour team that drew a bye.
Jennings County has won four of its last five, including a victory against New Albany, which hadn’t dropped a Hoosier Hills Conference game at that point. The Panthers also have fired a few duds, such as their 71-58 loss to Bedford North Lawrence.
In 3A sectional play, Brown County (3-12) will have to reverse a result from earlier this season as it meets Owen Valley in the first round of the Northview Sectional. Owen Valley downed the Eagles 49-42 on Jan. 17.
Among the area’s Class A teams, Hauser (9-9) opens play in the South Decatur Sectional against Oldenburg Academy in the first round. The Twisters are 9-7. The Jets are 5-2 against Class A competition this season.
Tournament host South Decatur (3-15) drew a bye in the opening round. The Cougars have lost their last 11 games.
Edinburgh (10-7) hosts a sectional as well and will play Morristown in the first round. The Lancers were smacked by Morristown 66-44 in the regular season.
Trinity Lutheran (12-6) drew a first-round by in the Springs Valley sectional.