Staff previews IHSAA State Tournament
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North Bracket Preview: Jared
If there’s any good news for the North part of the bracket, only one MIC team resides there. To counter that, the bad news remains that Fort Wayne North Side sits there as the No. 1 team in 4A. While the big name teams find themselves situated in the South, teams like North Side and McCutcheon figure to be big players into the IHSAA State Tournament.
4A: The fact remains that Carmel is always going to be a big player. Sterling Brown leads a squad that recently knocked off Warren Central. Getting to the Logansport Regional won’t be a breeze as a stellar HSE squad stands unscathed on the other side of the draw. HSE knocked off Carmel by 21 this season. Whoever makes it out of the Carmel sectional will have to deal with new problems in the form of either Logansport, McCutcheon or Zionsville who combined for a 57-9 record as of Feb. 21. One can’t talk about the Logansport Regional without looking at Northside and their tandem of 6’9” Keion Brooks and 6’11” Jaylen Butz, who led the legends to a one loss season as of Feb. 21. Granted they get past Snider, Northside will get perhaps get Carmel or McCutcheon. While Logansport may host the toughest regional in the North, Michigan City hosts the toughest sectional in the North as Crown Point, Valpo and Merrillville all hosts stellar records. Warsaw and South Bend Riley are two other teams to monitor as the tournament progresses.
3A: Though the record may deceive you (14-7), but Bishop Luers is battle tested, and a legit state contender. All seven of their losses have come against better than average teams and they hold wins over Cathedral and New Haven. Culver Academies also has the capability of holding more than their own. Culver has two losses on the season, one coming to Northside earlier in the season. Griffith and Northwood could give Luers and Culver fits.
2A: Class 2A is heavily infested by teams out of the South, but Oak Hill could perhaps pose a threat. Oak Hill stands at 17-3 at the moment, but boasts a rather weak strength of schedule (306). Lapel, the returning State champs, would meet Oak Hill in the regionals if they both won, setting up perhaps the biggest game in 2A in the North. Gary Roosevelt also has the potential to string wins together.
1A: It’s plain and simple in the North. The state final bid is Lafayette Central Catholic’s to lose. They’ve won 15 straight sectional titles and currently sit at 16-5. A state final matchup with Tindley looks more likely by the day.
South Bracket Preview: Keelen
In 2016, three out of the four state champions came out of the north side of the bracket, with the lone southern school being the 4A state champion New Albany Bulldogs. Will the south turn the tide in 2017?
4A proves a case for southern victory after strong seasons from New Albany along with North Central. Romeo Langford and the 20-3 Bulldogs are poised for a repeat in 4A, but a matchup with Kris Wilkes and the 19-4 Panthers could make for an interesting semi-state at Richmond. The emergence of 19-2 Warren Central who was ranked #1 at one point this season, and the improvements of Castle, along with their big-man Iowa commit Jack Nunge, as state title contenders have made an even greater case for 4A teams in the south bracket. A look at the bracket and you’ll see Warren Central and North Central both share the same sectional which should make for an interesting sectional championship as both teams are on the opposite side of the sectional bracket. Also of note- New Albany and Castle could potentially meet in the regional championship at Seymour if they both advance.
3A: 20-2 Brownstown Central is currently the highest ranked south bracket team in 3A and the Braves are listed by johnharrell.net as having a 7.2 percent chance to win state. Nike Sibande and Crispus Attucks are a team to look out for along with Brebeuf and Manual, two teams that share the same sectional as Attucks. Farther south, an Evansville Bosse team with a 13-7 record may not seem like a state contender, but the Bulldogs will have played 12 4A teams at the start of the tournament.
2A: Last year, Howe knocked off Providence in the 2A south semi-state at Richmond, and the Hornets lost in the state title game to Lapel. Look for both Howe and No. 1 the ranked Providence Pioneers to make some more noise in the 2A bracket. No. 2 ranked and always consistently tough Barr-Reeve will look to advanced further in this their second year in 2A after winning the 1A state title in 2015 and moving up to 2A for 2016. Northeastern, who shares a regional with Howe will also look to make some noise after winning sectionals in 2016 and losing to Howe in regionals.
1A: One thing’s for sure in 1A, the south bracket is Tinsley’s to lose. Johnharrell.net lists the Tigers chances at winning state as 21.2 percent. The next best chance in the south goes to Oldenburg who has a 5.8 percent chance. Tindley seems to be on a crash course to face Lafayette Central Catholic in the state title game.
4A: After seeing New Albany’s Romeo Langford drop 46 at semi-state last year, there’s no way I can pick against the Bulldogs in the south bracket. Langford will take over games and dominate the south bracket come March. In the North, not many teams have as much talent as Fort Wayne North Side with players like 5-star talent Keion Brooks and DePaul commit Jaylen Butz. I see New Albany beating North Side on a Langford last second game-winner for the state title.
4A State Championship: New Albany 61 FW North 59.
3A: Ft. Wayne Luers may be 13-7, but they will be battle tested come tourney time and they will prevail in the north side of the bracket. In the south a very good Brownstown Central team will benefit from a light draw and will pave their path to a first ever state championship.
3A State Championship: Brownstown Central 61 FW Luers 56
2A: Last year Providence advanced to semi-state where they lost to Howe. In 2017, I see the Pioneers advancing to state after beating Howe in a semi-state rematch. In the north I see an underrated Westview team making a run to play at state.
2A State Championship: Providence: 65 Westview 60
1A: Class 1A is about as easy as it gets. From afar Lafayette Central Catholic and Tindley seem to be on a crash course for Banker’s Life. It’s tempting to roll with the talented Eric Hunter and the Tindley Tigers, but I’ll take LCC in a close one.
1A State Championship: LCC 64 Tindley 63
4A: Some of these sectionals are the epitome of brutality. You can find state title contenders that might be out on Tuesday night. I can’t see North Central not coming out of the south. There’s no doubt that Keion Brooks and Jaylen Butz will overwhelm everyone en route to a Regional title for Northside. Castle and Crown Point will join North Central and Northside in the final four with North Central and Northside moving to Bankers Life. There, Jaylen Butz will reign supreme in his senior year with Northside taking the State Title back to Fort Wayne.
Fort Wayne Northside 84, North Central 73
3A: Fort Wayne Luers and Northwood should meet in the Regionals for one of the best matchups in all of 3A. From there, Luers will find a date with Culver for a trip to Indianapolis. Culver will find themselves there with a matchup with the winner of Brownstown Central and Tri-West. Brownstown Central and Culver will meet for the State Title with Brownstown escaping for the state title.
Brownstown Central 55, Culver Academies 50
2A: Down in 2A; Howe and Providence will roll in the South. Marquette Catholic and Oak Hill will come to meet in the semi-state. Oak Hill and Providence should meet for the State Title and Oak Hill will perhaps take home another state title, granted the girls win tomorrow.
Oak Hill 62, Providence 59
1A: Tindley and LCC will easily meet in the State Title. Tindley will get their blue rings.
Tindley 67, LCC 54