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Loaded Girls Basketball Sectional kicks off at Lawrence North: Preview

Jared Rigdon and Keelen Barlow, Editors

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The IHSAA Girls Basketball Tournament gets started Tuesday and Sectional 10, featuring LN, is one of the toughest in the state. NC and LC will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Before the action starts, North Star Editors Jared Rigdon and Keelen Barlow take a look at the bracket and provide picks and analysis on the way to crowning a sectional champ.

 

Team Previews:

 

North Central (18-6): Even with the injury of IUPUI commit Taylor Ramey in the beginning of the season, the Panthers have been a force on their way to an 18-5 record. Ohio State commit Rikki Harris has shown her worth once again this season as a leader for the Panthers. Purdue commit A’jah Stallings along with Savaya Brockington have made healthy side kicks alongside Harris. The MIC schedule (Carmel, Pike and LN) along with games against Hamilton Southeastern and Bedford North Lawrence has made sure the Panthers are battled tested heading into sectionals.

*The one blemish to the Panthers is injuries to top players Harris and Stallings causing them to sit out several games late in the season, including a 55-38 loss to LN. If they are at full strength, the Panthers are dangerous but keep an eye on their health heading into sectionals.

 

Heritage Christian (14-9): The Eagles will be playing in their first 4A tournament after moving up a class due to the IHSAA Tournament Success factor. They boast arguably the most  talented backcourt in the state with two Indiana Miss Basketball candidates in senior Notre Dame commit Katlyn Gilbert (2018) and freshman Ari Wiggins (2021). The Eagles have struggled with depth thought behind the duo and sit at 13-9 after an up and down season. Yet, they have won 5 of 6 and play from Gilbert and Wiggins should be enough to keep them competitive.

 

Lawrence Central (3-18): After starting the year off with 12 straight losses, LC picked up two wins in a Lebanon Holiday Tournament and a win over Decatur Central for their third win. Outside of that, there haven’t been very many bright spots. Charlize Turner, a Lawrence North transfer, has been the most consistent player for the Bears, putting up 10.3 of their 41 ppg. LC draws NC first round, a team that ousted them by 18 without Rikki Harris and Ajah Stallings. Should LC get past NC, they could find themselves in the Sectional Final. However, that seems rather unlikely.

 

Lawrence North (20-4): With a very young team (a starting lineup of four sophomores and one junior), Lawrence North has surprised teams throughout the season, going for a 19-4 record as of Jan. 26. Junior Trinity Brady paces a Wildcat offense that averages 57 ppg. Brady has been the most consistent scorer, putting up nearly half the points the team scores on a given night. The Wildcat defense (42 ppg) will keep LN in most games throughout the tournament, but Brady will need others to step up such as 5’10” sophomore Katie Davidson, 5’5” sophomore Kristian Young and 5’10” sophomore Lauren Gunn. Lawrence North may be the best team in this sectional when Brady gets double digit performances from other teammates. If the LN offense goes cold like it has multiple times this season, Brady will have to provide a 30 spot or LN may find themselves out early in the tournament.

 

Warren Central (13-7): Shaila Beeler and Cydni Dodd have helped Warren Central to a 12-7 record this season after both missing time to injury last season. Beeler (10.7 ppg), Dodd (11.3 ppg) and sophomore K’ja Talley (11.7 ppg) lead a Warren Central attack that only averages 58.5 ppg. Despite a four game losing streak early in the season against LN, Pike, Carmel and Roncalli, Warren has gone relatively unscathed. Warren has escaped bad losses, but their best wins come over a shorthanded Ben Davis team and a close call over Heritage Christian on a neutral court. Warren’s offense will have to be consistent if they expect to knock off a Lawrence North team who presses full court a majority of the game. The Warriors nearly took down LN in mid December, but Beeler fell quiet and Dodd went to the bench with foul trouble. Warren will need big days from Beeler and Dodd throughout the sectional but also will need to slow down Brady which has been seemingly difficult this season.

 

Tech (4-19): Tech has been blown out in virtually every game this season. Their four wins (Howe, Broad Ripple, Scecina and Northwest) are against teams all in the bottom 200’s or below of the Sagarin rankings. Tech drew the bye and will play the winner of North Central and Lawrence Central. Even a shorthanded North Central team will have relative ease with Tech. Tech will need to play a perfect game to advance in the Sectional.

 

Cathedral (12-10): Cathedral (12-10) has been on the edge of breaking through all season long. With wins over Plainfield and Roncalli, it seemed as though Cathedral may be able to contend with some of the best teams in the state. However outside of Keya Patton (19.2 ppg), the Irish have failed to identify a second scorer to help her out. Cathedral draws Heritage Christian first round and will look to bounce back after losing by 17 earlier in the season. Patton will need to have a big night and Cathedral will have to step up and stop Wiggins and Gilbert to have a chance at extending their season.

 

Picks:

 

Keelen:

Analysis

In 2018 sectional 10 can basically be divided into three tiers: Contenders, Threats and pretenders. Both North Central (18-6) and Lawrence North (20-4)  are both legitimate state title contenders and seem to have set themselves apart and are on a crash course for the sectional title game. While the trio of Warren Central, Heritage Christian and Cathedral have had somewhat up and down seasons to the date, all are capable of giving NC and LN a tough matchup in the event that they meet. Tech and Lawrence Central seem to have set themselves apart in the bottom tier of the sectional 10 bracket and have struggled at times during the regular season.

Picks

North Central benefits from a fortunate draw with the combined seven wins of LC and Tech on their side of the bracket. The Panthers should have a smooth sailing to the sectional final.

Lawrence North on the other hand has a much tougher path to the sectional final.  While LN came away with the victory in regular season meetings with Heritage and Warren Central, the victories were only by a combined five points. Scoring capabilities from Trinity Brady though should be enough to propel the Wildcats to a matchup with North Central in the sectional final.

NC and LN split the two meetings during the season. This would be the first test for a healthy Panthers squad after NC has struggled somewhat down the stretch. LN meanwhile has won five straight heading into the sectional. Give me the Panthers over LN as they should be back at full strength. Should be a sectional final for the ages in sectional 10.

 

Jared:

Analysis: Sectional 10 is one of the deepest sectionals in all the state when at full strength. North Central and Lawrence North have the potential to make state title runs when they play to their full potential while Heritage Christian and Warren Central have two duos capable of giving anyone in the state trouble. Lawrence North has a benefit of home court advantage, but NC pulled a favorable field in the blind sectional draw. The winner of this sectional has the potential to knock off Pike in the regionals but will have to escape a bloodbath in the sectional first.

Picks: A banged up North Central team drew a sigh of relief when their name appeared in the Sectional Draw. The 18-6 Panthers draw 3-18 Lawrence Central in the Tuesday opener with the winner advancing to play 4-19 Tech. Tech and LC have combined for one 4A win on the season so North Central will seemingly move their way into the title game. On the other side, LN will meet Warren Central while Heritage draws Cathedral. LN barely survived Warren Central earlier in the season, but as of late, Trinity Brady and LN have turned it on. I expect LN to move past Warren while Heritage knocks off Cathedral in the other first round matchup. In the second semi final, LN will use their home court advantage and young talent to take down Heritage Christian. Come the sectional final, a North Central team that should have Rikki Harris and Ajah Stallings back will be well rested against a tired Lawrence North team. I’ll take North Central over Lawrence North 64-61 due to the easy early round matchups. However, if Stallings and Harris are slow in coming back, a balanced Lawrence North will be the team to beat in Sectional 10.

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Loaded Girls Basketball Sectional kicks off at Lawrence North: Preview