With the regular season come and gone, records are irrelevant.
Tomorrow, Jackson County’s boys basketball teams will begin their quest for state titles as “Hoosier Hysteria” commences.
CLASS 4A SECTIONAL (SEYMOUR)
The Seymour boys basketball team has the luxury of playing at home throughout its sectional, but with a handful of competitive teams from the Hoosier Hills Conference coming in, the task for a title will be an uphill battle.Tonight, the Owls (6-16) will commence postseason play as they face Floyd Central at the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.Four of the Owls’ wins came at home this season.
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In their previous matchup with the Highlanders, the Owls lost on a buzzer-beater — 33-31 — with less than a second on the clock.
“My first thought was that it could be another 30-point game,” Owls coach Kyle Clough said. “Both teams are really good defensively, and Floyd has been playing some great basketball as of late. (Floyd) will be a great challenge for us, and I think with the way we lost to them last time our kids are ready to make up for that mistake.”
The Highlanders won six of their last seven games, while the Owls have gone 2-5 during that stretch.
“Number one, we have to keep (Floyd) off the boards — they’re a big athletic team,” Clough said. “The first time we played them, to hold them to 33 points, we did a tremendous job on the glass. We were able to get them in some foul trouble with over-the-backs off the back.
“Offensively, we will have to move the basketball and have some long, quality possessions. They’re probably the toughest team to score on that we played all year. They do a nice job packing it in and avoiding screens. We’re not going to score off the first dribble-penetration we get. It’s going to take a reversal, kick-out, skip and see if we can score from there.”
Senior Toriek Miller, who is averaging near 17 points per game, is just eight points shy of reaching 1,000 for a career at Seymour.
All season, the Owls have relied on stingy defense to keep games close.
However, the defense hasn’t translated to offense on a number of occasions.
“I think that we have to keep playing the way we are defensively,” Clough said. “I think that we do need to find some other ways to score. We have some wrinkles we’d like to put in. More than anything, we need to get out in the open court a little bit. When we get stops, we need to take advantage and play with some speed. As far as the half court, we have to share the basketball a little more. When we score, it’s because we’re making three or four passes.”
Seven of the Owls’ losses have been five points or less this season, and Clough recognized the failure to execute in the final minutes of games.
“It’s definitely the elephant in the room — we’ve lost some close games,” Clough said. “I give our kids a lot of credit, they don’t require a lot of motivational talks. They understand and recognize that we’re awful close (to winning tight games). I also think that they realize we’re not playing well enough in fourth quarters to win right now.
“We’re trying to get over that stage of expecting bad things to happen to us, and we need to come out and expect to win. We need to play fearlessly, and maybe with some more fun than we’ve had.”
Class 4A No. 1 New Albany awaits the winner of the Seymour/Floyd Central contest in Friday’s semifinals.
“I think that it is one of those draws where you just hoped you didn’t play New Albany first,” Clough said. “However, I think that all of us knew that we would be facing tough competition no matter who we’d play. We’ve been in tough matchups with everyone in this sectional.
“(We) would love a shot to go play (New Albany) again. As a staff, we would too. Anyone who plays them will really embrace that underdog role. It’s an, ‘They’ve got everything to lose and we have nothing to lose’ mentality since they’re such a heavy threat.”
CLASS 3A SECTIONAL 30 (CHARLESTOWN)
While the Class 3A No. 6 Brownstown Central boys basketball team is the favorite to win the Charlestown Sectional, the Braves know that it will take three strong games to emerge as victors Saturday.Tonight, the Braves will face North Harrison to start their quest for a state berth.On Dec. 18, Brownstown knocked off the Panthers 85-53 for a Mid-Southern Conference win.
“There are a lot of good teams in it, and we know that we will have to beat some good teams to win,” Braves coach Dave Benter said. “It will take three good games out of us to win it. North Harrison is very dangerous. They have their big-guy back (6-foot-8 sophomore Jacob Harmon) that they didn’t bring the first time we played them.
“They have three really good scorers with a group of role-players that play really hard. Whoever wins that game, has a tough road the rest of the way. It’s a really good Class 3A sectional.”
The balanced scoring attack of Jacoby Shade, Cam Shoemaker and Zach McCory has proven fruitful for the Braves, as each are averaging near 13 points per contest.
Should the Braves emerge with a victory, they will play Salem on Friday in the semifinals.
“(Salem) has a lot of guys who can score,” Benters said. “They play a little bit chaotic. They are going to press and trap and play really fast. Them and Charlestown are just as athletic as anybody in the sectional. There’s a lot of good teams, that if they get on a roll, can win the sectional. We always talk to our guys about controlling what we can control.”
Benter said that his team’s defense will play key down the stretch, and controlling the turnover ratio and commanding the boards will prove essential.
The Braves are anchored by the senior leadership of Shade, McCory, Shoemaker and Matthew Nierman.
Throughout the season, juniors Carson Lambring and Cody Waskom also have proven quintessential in games — both capable of scoring 20-plus points on any given night.
“All of our guys are really excited,” Benter said. “Our seniors recognize that this is it. They understand that there will be a lot of challenges throughout the week and are ready to go.”
The Braves won the sectional in 2013 and last made it to state in 2009.
Coming into the postseason, the Braves (20-3) have won 11 of their past 13 games.
CLASS A SECTIONAL 61 (WEST WASHINGTON)
MedoraThe Medora boys basketball team will look to avenge a pair of losses to Jackson County rivals Trinity Lutheran to start the West Washington sectional tonight.Coach Michael Leitzman said the Hornets will have to bring their A game against Trinity Lutheran in the opening game tonight at West Washington.
“They’re a very good team. They play hard, they have some good post players,” he said. “We played a lot better the second time we played them than the first time. They dominated us on the boards, and they beat us in transition a lot.
“There were some good signs when we played them, but there were also some bad moments.”
The Cougars defeated the Hornets 56-40 on Dec. 28 in the Edinburgh Holiday Tournament, and Trinity won 61-43 at Medora on Jan. 22.
“It will be our third time, so we will have to be sure to come out and play pretty well without taking anything for granted,” Cougars coach Aaron Rudzinski said. “We can’t think about how we have beaten them twice before, they’re a scrappy group of guys that have enough talent to beat us if we aren’t focused on doing what we need to for a win. We will have to be able to adjust for them.”
Leitzman has been starting four seniors in recent games, while Trinity has been opening with three seniors.
The Hornets (7-16) are led in scoring by Chase Booker at 15 points per game. Kam Flynn is next at 11, and Jalen Beesley is averaging 9.
Daniel Horton has led the Cougars’ charge putting up 18 per contest while Keegan Rebber is averaging 11 and Jacob Schult consistently puts up 8.
None of the Hornets scored in double figures in their second meeting with Trinity, while Booker scored 13 and Flynn 10 in the game at Edinburgh.
“We have to be patient, value the basketball, move the basketball and making scoring cuts,” Leitzman said. “Come tournament time it’s anybody’s game, but you’ve got to take care of the basketball and you’ve got to defend at a high level.
“It’s going to be a good game. I think Trinity is playing really well right now. Their coach has them doing some good things lately. It will be a tough match up for us, but I’m very excited and I know these kids are very excited to get out there and play them.”
The Cougars (16-7) have played strong basketball since the turn of the year, going 12-2 since Jan. 2.
Medora won three of their final four games in a seven-day span.
The Medora-Trinity winner will play Borden at 6 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
Borden downed the Cougars 65-56 in the regular season, while the Hornets never faced the Braves.
“We noticed that when (Boren) played us, they didn’t make a single shot from the perimeter and still beat us,” Rudzinski said. “They mostly had layups and a couple mid-range jump shots. They have some good basketball players and are coached really well. They had a height disadvantage and we weren’t able to take advantage.”
Tigers coach Greg Kilgore said his team will have to rebound much better against West Washington in the second game tonight than it did in a 71-42 loss on the Senators’ floor on Feb. 12.
Kilgore said he feels like the Tigers have improved on the boards since that earlier game.
“We didn’t rebound well (in the earlier game),” he said. “In the three weeks since then we’ve started doing a better job boxing out and rebounding, and defending. We did a much better job against Henryville (Feb. 20) at our place.”
Kilgore also said the Tigers need to do a better job defending West Washington’s post players.
“We had a hard time in the half-court. They’ve got the (Hunter) Sanford kid in the middle at 6-4 and very athletic, and they’ve got the (Peyton) Walker kid at 6-3 that is athletic, and he can shoot.”
Four Senators scored in double figures in the earlier game, led by Sanford with 23.
Eli Mollet tops the Tigers (3-20) in scoring at 18 points per game, and Tyler Luedeman is next at 9 per game. Mollett scored 15 and Luedeman 14 in the earlier game.
“Their kids perennially are a lot stronger than ours, due to most of them play football, so we’ll have to really be strong with the basketball, and defensively, and box out and hold our position well, and close out on shots really well to be able to compete with them,” Kilgore said.
“I think, person-for-person, we can compete with West Washington if my kids will get that mind set, and head over there thinking they can compete with them.”
Another key for the Tigers is turnovers.
“Turnovers have been big for us this year,” Kilgore said. “The games where we’ve had the 8-10-12 turnovers range we’re competing. Against Henryville we had eight turnovers and lost by 10 to a very good Henryville team.
“It doesn’t seem like the kids cherish each possession. I told the kids as long as you’re running your offense the other team is playing defense and getting tired. Nobody that has ever played the game has enjoyed defense more than offense.”
The Crothersville-West Washington winner will play Orleans at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
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Bedford North Lawrence
Class 4A, Sectional 15
6 p.m. Seymour (6-16) vs. Floyd Central (14-8)
7:30 p.m. Bedford North Lawrence (14-10) vs. Jeffersonville (13-11)
6 p.m. New Albany (21-1) vs. Seymour-Floyd Central winner
7:30 p.m. Jennings County (8-140 vs. BNL-Jeffersonville winner
7:30 p.m. championship
Charlestown Class 3A
7 p.m. Brownstown (20-3) vs. North Harrison (13-8)
6 p.m. Charlestown (16-7) vs. Corydon (2-21)
7:30 p.m. Silver Creek (18-4) vs. Scottsburg (1-21)
6 p.m. Salem (16-5) vs. Brownstown-North Harrison winner
7:30 p.m. Charlestown-Corydon winner vs. Silver Creek-Scottsburg winner
7 p.m. Championship
West Washington Class 1A
6 p.m. Trinity Lutheran (16-7) vs. Medora (7-16)
7:30 p.m. Crothersville (3-19) vs. West Washington (16-8)
6 p.m. Borden (14-8) vs. Trinity-Medora winner
7:30 p.m. Crothersville-West Washington winner vs. Orleans (11-12)
7:30 p.m. championship
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Probable starters for this week’s boys basketball sectional games.
Name, year, points per game
Zach McCory, Sr. (12.0)
Jacoby Shade, Sr. (13.2)
Cam Shoemaker, Sr. (11.9)
Carson Lambring, Jr. (11.0)
Cody Waskom, Jr. (12.2)
Micah Mains, Sr. (5.3)
Eli Mollet, Sr. (16.6)
Tyler Luedeman, Sr. (9.8)
Conner O’Sullivan, Jr. (3.1)
Zane Elliott, So. (1.8)
Jalen Beesley, Sr. (9.3)
Chase Booker, Sr. (14.7)
Nash Bottorff, Sr. (1.0)
Kam Flynn, Sr. (11.4)
Brandon Moore, Jr. (7.8)
Toriek Miller, Sr. (17.1)
Ryan Wieneke, Sr. (6.8)
Tyler Bloom, Jr. (5.3)
Tiller Cummings, So. (7.6)
Alan Perry So. (7.1)
Daniel Horton, Sr., (17.8)
Dylan Maschino, Sr. (7.6)
Keegan Rebber, Sr. (10.8)
Chad Stuckwisch, Jr. (7.4)
Jacob Schult Sr. (8.8)