Bull Dogs get 2nd shot at Panthers

For the second time in three weeks, the Columbus North boys basketball team will try to slay the state’s biggest giant.

The Bull Dogs (18-5) will face Class 4A No. 1 Bloomington South (24-0) at around 7:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals of the North Sectional. They’re hoping this one goes a little better than the last meeting, a 63-48 Panther win on Nov. 14.

“(Columbus North is) good,” Bloomington South coach J.R. Holmes said. “They didn’t play very well. I’m sure they’re going to play better. We’re going to have to be locked in. I’m expecting a very hard game. Our kids will have to be locked in defensively as well as they run their offense.”

Holmes is the state’s all-time winningest coach, and the Panthers are led by the Mr. Basketball favorite in Indiana University recruit Anthony Leal. They also feature senior point guard Noah Jager, who is headed to Army, and junior guard Connor Hickman, who is receiving interest from Division I schools.

“There’s a reason they’re the No. 1 team in the state, and they’re playing at a high level right now,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “What sticks out to me when I watch them is how well they move the ball and how willing they are to make the extra pass.”

The Bull Dogs are led by junior guard Blake Barker, who went over the 1,000-point mark for his career last month, and senior forward Nick Schiavello, who committed last week to play at Wheaton (Illinois).

North will be trying to snap the Panthers’ five-year streak of sectional titles.

“We’re excited to play them,” Ferguson said. “We just feel like it’s a great opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the state in our gym. My guys are excited, and they’re ready to play hard and we’re looking forward to the game.”

Bloomington North (19-5) and East Central (16-8) will meet in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday. The sectional championship is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Teams chasing sectional titles

Besides Columbus North, four other area teams are still alive in their quests for sectional championships and will play in semifinals on Friday night.

Also in Class 4A, Jennings County (13-11), which avenged a regular-season loss to New Albany in Tuesday’s opening round, will face Bedford North Lawrence (15-9) in the semifinals of the Seymour Sectional at around 7:30 p.m. Friday. Jennings beat the Stars 74-68 on Jan. 18.

Class 2A No. 6 South Decatur (22-2) will play Triton Central (5-17) in the semifinals of the North Decatur Sectional at around 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Cougars routed the Tigers 109-76 on Feb. 1.

Brown County (5-17) will meet Brownstown Central (9-15) in the semifinals of the Class 3A Edgewood Sectional at 6 p.m. Friday. The teams did not meet during the regular season.

In Class A, Edinburgh (6-17) will play Crothersville (12-10) in the semifinals of the Edinburgh Sectional at 6 p.m. Friday. The Lancers edged the Tigers 48-47 on Feb. 8.

All sectional finals will be on Saturday night.

North, East girls make All-State

Columbus North junior Alexa McKinley has been named to the 25-player first-team All-State girls basketball team by the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association.

Columbus East sophomore Koryn Greiwe made the second team. North sophomore Kylah Lawson is on the third team.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association released its All-State girls teams on Wednesday, and Edinburgh’s Destiney Ramey made the 15-player Small School Senior All-State squad. Trinity Lutheran junior Sydney Jaynes and freshman Bailey Tabeling are on the Small School Underclass All-State team.

Edinburgh’s Haven Link and Brown County’s Allison Stogsdill made the Senior honorable mention list. Greiwe, McKinley and Brown County freshman Abby Fleetwood earned Underclass honorable mention honors.

Bull Dog picked for Classic

Columbus North senior Nick Schiavello has been selected to play in the Hoosier Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Classic April 19 at Bloomington North.

Schiavello and North’s Casper Clark made the HBCA All-District boys team. North’s Sierra Norman and Tessa Lomax and Columbus East’s Whitley Rankin and Katie Dougherty made the HBCA All-District girls squad.

The game and the HBCA teams are open only to seniors.

Sophomore named MVP

Greiwe has been named MVP of the Columbus East girls basketball team for the second consecutive year.

Whitley Rankin won the Varsity Mental Attitude Award, Gabby Dean won Varsity Most Improved and Saige Stahl won the Varsity Olympian Award. Katie Dougherty and Sarah Boggs won the Varsity Team Spirit Award, and Dougherty and Rankin were honored with Captain Awards.

Allison Craig was named JV MVP, and Jordan Sims was selected C Team MVP. Hallie Randle won the JV Defense Award.

Two East wrestlers place

Two Columbus East wrestlers came away with top-five finishes at last weekend’s Freshman-Sophomore State meet.

Jaden Durnil took second at 170 pounds, and Ashton Hartwell was fourth at 285. The Olympians finished in eighth as a team out of 220 teams.

Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at [email protected] or 812-379-5628.