Hauser a slight favorite; North, East underdogs heading into sectional

Columbus East’s Ethan Bumbalough, left, and Mason Reeves, right, try to stop Columbus North’s Caleb Ferguson’s drive the basket during the annual crosstown rivalry game Dec. 15, 2023 at Columbus East High School.

The Republic file photo

Like how it was in the girls basketball sectional, it would be no surprise if Franklin is raising the trophy on Saturday night after the boys basketball sectional.

The Grizzly Cubs are heavily favored to win the Class 4A East Central Sectional that features both Columbus East and Columbus North.

Fortunately for the Olympians and Bull Dogs, they won’t have to meet the Franklin until the sectional final. East and North meet each other with the first game out of the gate at 6 p.m. Tuesday, followed by Whiteland taking on Shelbyville in the second game later that night.

East Central will play the winner between the Bull Dogs and Olympians in the first semifinal game at 6 p.m. Friday, followed the Franklin taking on the winner between Whiteland and Shelbyville in the second semifinal game. The championship is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

East or North couldn’t ask for a better draw, but it will take take three wins to get the title. Tuesday’s opener will be a rematch of the Olympians’ 46-45 win over the Bull Dogs in a Dec. 15 matchup.

Whether it’s East or North that advances, it will be a rematch against East Central in the semifinals. The Bull Dogs defeated the Trojans 56-44 in a Feb. 3 matchup, while the Olympians fell to East Central 43-41 in a Jan. 26 matchup.

According to the Jeff Sagarin Rating, both East and North would be 20-point underdogs against Franklin. John Harrell’s website calculates the Grizzly Cubs with a 72% chance to win the sectional, with Whiteland second at 12%, followed by East Central (7%), North (3%), East (3%) and Shelbyville (3%).

Hauser’s Ledger Gelfius drives to the basket against Waldron’s Will Larrison Feb. 20 at Hauser High School.

The Republic file photo

In Class 2A Hauser and South Ripley is the anticipated rematch many Jets fans are eager to see, but instead of coming in the championship of the South Ripley Sectional, it will be in the semifinal. Both teams have the bye and will face each in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday.

In the other half of the five-team sectional, North Decatur faces Milan in Tuesday’s opening round matchup, with the winner taking on Switzerland County in the second semifinal game on Friday. The championship is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The semifinal matchup between the Raiders and Jets likely will be the “de facto” championship game. The regular season matchup on Dec. 8 didn’t bring a ton of excitement, with South Ripley winning comfortably over Hauser 61-47. The sectional rematch is certain to bring more excitement.

Some might expect the Raiders to be the easy favorite to win the sectional on their home floor, but that isn’t the case. The Sagarin Rating has the Jets as a 1-point favorite in the rematch, but with South Ripley’s home court advantage, it is a 50/50 coin flip. Harrell’s website agrees. It gives Hauser a 35.3% chance to win the sectional, followed by South Ripley at 35.07%. North Decatur has the next best odds at 16%, followed by Switzerland County (13%) and Milan (<1%).

Should the Jets advance, they’d meet either the Chargers or Pacers in the championship. Hauser defeated Switzerland County 53-42 in a Dec. 16 matchup and defeated North Decatur 65-54 in a Jan. 5 matchup.