East, North to meet in first round of sectional; Jets draw Raiders

Columbus North’s Caleb Ferguson, left, dribbles against Columbus East’s Alex Duncan during the annual crosstown rivalry game Dec. 15, 2023 at Columbus East High School.

The Republic file photo

The last time the boys basketball sectional was played at East Central, Columbus East and Columbus North met in the opening round.

The Olympians and Bull Dogs haven’t met in the first round since then, but this year the sectional is returning to East Central, and East and North once again will face each other in the opening round. They’ll play at 6 p.m. Feb. 27 in St. Leon.

Both teams were hoping to face each other in a rematch of the Olympians’ 46-45 regular-season victory on Dec. 15.

“It’s our biggest rivalry, so anytime you can replicate a game like that, it’s a game we wanted right off the bat,” said first-year East coach Perry Nash. “For us, I don’t think it could have been a better draw.”

Paul Ferguson is in his ninth year at North. His first year, in 2016, the Bull Dogs avenged a regular-season loss with a victory against the Olympians in the sectional at East Central.

“We were pumped,” Ferguson said. “We’re excited to play Columbus East. We wanted to play East. Additionally, the best two teams, Whiteland and Franklin, are on the other side, so they’ll have to play each other (in the semifinals). There are very winnable games on our side.”

The winner between East (5-15) and North (6-12) will play East Central (11-12) in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. March 1. Franklin (15-3) drew the other bye and will play the winner between Shelbyville (11-8) and Whiteland (12-10) in the second semifinal.

North beat East Central 56-44 on Feb. 3. The Olympians lost a 14-point second-half lead in falling to the Trojans 43-41 on Jan. 26.

“We don’t want to look ahead, but that is a game that we wish we had back,” Nash said. “We had two starters out that game and then got into foul trouble. But our focus has to remain on North because it’s a rivalry game, and anything can happen in a game like that.”

Hauser’s Ledger Gelfius shoots over South Ripley’s Chancie Volz Friday Dec. 7, 2023 at Hauser High School.

The Republic file photo

Meanwhile, Hauser (16-5) will get a rematch with sectional host South Ripley (11-9) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. March 1 in Class 2A. The Raiders beat the Jets 61-47 on Dec. 8.

“It’s great to have the bye right into the semifinal, and we are excited to play South Ripley again. We’ve played a lot of basketball since we saw them in December, and we feel like we’re battle tested and a different team now than we were then. We know they’re a really talented team, but we’re looking forward to that challenge on that Friday night.”

In the second semifinal at South Ripley, Switzerland County (12-7) will face the winner between North Decatur (12-9) and Milan (2-18).

Jennings County (10-12), the defending champion of a 4A sectional at Seymour, drew a first-round bye and will play in the semifinals at around 7:45 p.m. March 1 against the winner between Bedford North Lawrence (13-6) and New Albany (14-5).

In 3A, Brown County (7-12) will play Edgewood (11-12) in the opening round of the Owen Valley Sectional at around 7:45 p.m. Feb. 28. The winner will play the winner between South Vermillion (13-8) and Indian Creek (13-7) in the semifinals at around 7:45 p.m. March 1.

Edinburgh (10-9) and South Decatur (9-11) will square off in the first round of the Class A Edinburgh Sectional at around 7:45 p.m. Feb. 28. The winner will play Jac-Cen-Del (9-12) or Waldron (9-10) in the semifinals at around 7:45 p.m. March 1.

Also in Class A, Trinity Lutheran (10-10) will face Shawe Memorial (9-13) in the opening round of the New Washington Sectional at around 7:45 p.m. March 27. The winner will meet Medora (8-11) in the semifinals at around 7:45 p.m. March 1.

All sectional finals will be at 7 or 7:30 p.m. March 2.

The regional round is March 9, semistate games will be March 16 and the state finals are March 30.