Tough openers: North, East draw sectional favorites; Hauser gets bye

The sectional draws couldn’t have gotten any tougher for the Columbus North and Columbus East girls basketball teams Sunday night.

The Bull Dogs and Olympians drew the two favorites in the Shelbyville Sectional. North (11-7) will play last year’s Class 4A state runner-up Franklin (14-5) in the opener at 6 p.m. Jan. 1, and that will be followed by East (8-12) meeting three-time defending sectional champion East Central (14-10) at around 7:45 p.m.

“They’re probably the favorite for the sectional, and if you’re going to win it, you usually have to beat the best team,” North coach Brett White said of Franklin. “As coaches, we’ll start preparing now for them, and then after Thursday, we’ll have Friday, Saturday, Monday with the girls to hopefully get them ready for Tuesday.”

The Bull Dogs lost to the Grizzly Cubs 65-28 the second game of the season.

“We get to play them on a neutral court instead of their home court,” White said. “We’re definitely a different team than we were when we played them Game 2. We’ve made a lot of progress. Our roles are defined, and we’ve gained a lot of confidence.”

The Olympians beat East Central 67-54 early in the season. The game matches a pair of last year’s Indiana Junior All-Stars in East’s Saige Stahl and the Trojans’ Josie Trabel.

“You have two of the better players in the state of Indiana going head-to-head in Trable and Saige,” East coach Danny Brown said. “Trabel has always had good games against us, especially in the tournament, and we have to find a way to slow her down.”

Columbus East’s Saige Stahl, left, drives past East Central’s Brooke Carpenter during a basketball game at Columbus East High School in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.

The Republic file photo

East Central has beaten the Olympians in the sectional each of the past three years, including in last year’s sectional final.

“They’ve been kind of our nemesis in the sectional,” Brown said. “We beat them earlier in the year, but that seems like a long time ago. I know that they are playing really good basketball right now. Obviously, they’re playing better.”

The winner of the North-Franklin game will play Whiteland (12-9) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Feb. 3. The East-East Central winner will meet host Shelbyville (13-8) at 7:45 p.m. that evening. The sectional final is Feb. 4.

Hauser’s Madelyn Poe shoots a free throw against Shawe Memorial at Hauser, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022.

The Republic file photo

Meanwhile, the draw for Hauser couldn’t have gone much better. In the five-team Class 2A sectional at Switzerland County, the Jets (9-9) drew a bye and will play Milan (3-17) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Feb. 3. Hauser beat Milan 48-33 early in the season.

In the bottom half of the bracket, North Decatur (15-5) plays South Ripley (12-9) on Jan. 31, and the winner will meet Switzerland County (13-7) in the second semifinal on Feb. 3.

“We play North Decatur Tuesday night, so we’ll get a look at them,” Hauser coach Kyle Shipp said. “But one of the outlooks when your‘e looking at sectional is one-game-at-a-time, so our focus will be Milan on that Friday night, and then we’ll take it from there.”

Back in 4A, the draw was a tough one for Jennings County. The Panthers (19-3) will play host and No. 7 Bedford North Lawrence (19-3) in the opening round at 7 p.m. Jan. 31. The winner will play Jeffersonville (14-8) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Feb. 3.

South Decatur (7-12) will play Oldenburg Academy (9-9) at 6 p.m., and Edinburgh (6-15) will face Morristown (10-10) at around 7:45 p.m. Feb. 1 in the opening round of the seven-team Class A Sectional at Southwestern (Shelby). Those winners will face each other in the semifinals at around 7:45 p.m. Feb. 3.

Also in Class A, No. 4 Trinity Lutheran (15-6) will play Shawe Memorial (15-5) in the opener of the Rising Sun Sectional at 6 p.m. Jan. 31. The winner will face Crothersville (0-15) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Feb. 3.

Brown County (11-9) will play South Vermillion (0-20) in the opener of the seven-team Class 3A Sectional at Owen Valley at 7 p.m. Jan. 31. The winner will meet Northview (14-8) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Feb. 3.

All sectional finals will be at 7 or 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4.