The Long Route: East, North draw first-round games, need three wins to take sectional

Neither Columbus East nor Columbus North drew a first-round bye for next week’s Bloomington North girls basketball sectional, but for the Olympians, that might not be a bad thing.

Class 4A No. 10 East, which drew host Bloomington North in the sectional opener at 6 p.m. Feb. 1, is scheduled to close the regular season Tuesday against Silver Creek. The Olympians are looking to add a potential opponent for Thursday.

“We’re excited to get going,” East coach Danny Brown said. “I’m kind of glad we didn’t get the bye. Tuesday could be the last game of our regular season, so if we got the bye, it could have been 10 days before we played again.”

The Olympians (16-3) beat Bloomington North (9-11) 59-42 on Nov. 30. Both teams are having their best seasons in more than a decade.

“They are improved,” Brown said. “Jeff (Turmail) has done a good job over there. Playing on their home floor, the first game out, we have to be ready. You can never overlook anyone when it comes to sectional play in Indiana.”

Columbus North (12-8) will play two-time defending sectional champion East Central (18-4) in the second first-round matchup at around 7:45 p.m. Feb. 1. The Trojans beat the Bull Dogs 47-31 on Dec. 9.

“The sectional essentially is a new season, so that’s the way we’re going to treat it,” Columbus North coach Brett White said. “To win the sectional, you’re going to have to beat some good teams, and this allows us to prepare for one of those good teams. I feel like we’re a different team that we were at that point. We have a few of our players back who were sick or injured at that point, so we’re closer to full strength.”

If East beats Bloomington South, it would play Martinsville (6-12) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Feb. 4. If the Bull Dogs win, they would face Bloomington South (5-17) at around 7:45 p.m. that night. The final is at 7 p.m. Feb. 5.

Meanwhile, in Class A, Hauser received a tough draw. The Jets (10-10) will play No. 5 Jac-Cen-Del (16-5) in the opening round of the Waldron Sectional at 6 p.m. Feb. 2.

Jac-Cen-Del beat Hauser 65-40 on Dec. 1. The Jets are looking for their first sectional title since 2005.

“First of all, we have a (Mid-Hoosier) conference game with North Decatur on Tuesday, and we’ll concentrate on Jac-Cen-Del after we play North Decatur and Shelbyville this week (to close the regular season),” Hauser coach Chad Evans said. “We played them pretty well until about 2 minutes into the fourth quarter. I think we’ll be ready for them.”

If the Jets win, they would play the winner between Southwestern (Shelby) (9-10) and Morristown (10-9) in the semifinals at 7:45 p.m. Feb. 4. No. 1-ranked Waldron (19-1) received a bye and will face Rising Sun (8-12) or Oldenburg Academy (7-12) at 6 p.m. Feb. 4.

“It would be nice to have the bye and play the winner of somebody else, but you control the controllables,” Evans said. “I’m hoping we’ll get everybody back healthy for sectional.”

Also in Class A, Edinburgh (8-7) will play West Washington (12-7) in the opening round of the West Washington Sectional at 7 p.m. Feb. 1. The Lancers fell to the Senators 44-40 on Jan. 8 in Edinburgh’s most recent game before it went into quarantine. No. 8 Trinity Lutheran (13-7) will face Crothersville (3-11) in a rematch of a 55-25 Cougar victory, and Shawe Memorial (8-9) will meet the Edinburgh-West Washington winner in the Feb. 4 semifinals.

Jennings County (16-4) drew a first-round bye and will play in the semifinals of the Jeffersonville Sectional at 6 p.m. Feb. 4 against the winner between New Albany (5-17) and Seymour (9-9). The Panthers beat Seymour 70-42 on Dec. 7 and New Albany 53-43 on Dec. 11. The winner likely will face co-No. 4 Bedford North Lawrence (18-2) in the final on Feb. 5.

In Class 3A, Brown County (3-18) will play Northview (18-4) in the opening round of the Northview Sectional at 6 p.m. Feb. 2. The Knights beat the Eagles 57-25 on Nov. 19. The winner will face Edgewood (16-4) or South Vermillion (5-15) in the semifinals at 7:45 p.m. Feb. 4.

South Decatur (3-15) will play Switzerland County (15-5) in the first round of the Class 2A Southwestern (Hanover) Sectional at 6 p.m. Feb. 1 The Pacers beat the Cougars 44-34 on Thursday. The winner will play Southwestern (5-16) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Feb. 4.

All sectional finals games will be at 7 or 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5.

Columbus North will host a 4A regional on Feb. 12. The winner of the Bloomington North Regional will play the winner of the Franklin Central Regional at 10 a.m., followed by the winners of the Jeffersonville and Evansville Harrison winners. The regional final is that night.

The semistate round is Feb. 19. The state finals are Feb. 26 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.