The bad news is that the winner of Class 4A Sectional 13 in boys basketball heads northeast instead of southeast for regional play in March — to Hinkle Fieldhouse instead of Seymour as a result of Indiana High School Athletic Association’s changes.
The good news is that at least the Sectional 13 winner won’t have to go that way for the first round of postseason tournament play.
I can’t think of another high school basketball season in which so many teams could legitimately be called state-championship contenders.
And the Marion County area has about a dozen by itself.
Among teams that would feed into the northern semistate, there are Lake Central and Munster from The Region; unbeaten Homestead and two other teams unbeaten until the last two weeks, Elkhart Memorial and New Haven; and defending state runner-up Kokomo, which would seem to have the easiest sectional route. Plus, in just one sectional there are the two teams that have been vying for No. 1 in the state polls most of the season, Hamilton Southeastern and Indianapolis North Central, plus third-ranked Carmel and at least two other teams, Fishers and Zionsville, that might not be state contenders but who could knock out somebody who is.
I count seven state-championship contenders up there (not Elkhart Memorial or New Haven either). Now let’s look at the teams feeding into the regional at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Pendleton Heights is an eighth state contender, but will have to beat New Castle at New Castle to get out of the sectional. Avon, Ben Davis and Pike increase our contender list to 11, all of them coming from the sectional at Southport. Bump the number to 17 with this list of six teams: Indianapolis Cathedral, Indianapolis Tech, Lawrence Central, Lawrence North, Roncalli and Warren Central — all in the same sectional at Tech.
I’d like to think Terre Haute North is the 18th name on that list, and the past weekend didn’t do anything to knock the Patriots off it. They had a pretty good shot at beating Warren Central, followed by as good a bounce-back game as I’ve seen in awhile in dominating a pretty good Bedford North Lawrence team at Bedford.
But the Patriots can’t assume they’re going to Hinkle yet either. Wily coach Tim Wolf and his Martinsville team lurks in the weeds with a good record and most of the same kids who beat the Patriots two years ago, Mooresville is also having an outstanding season (Bob Carter’s work with a team that was something like 3-18 two years ago has been remarkable) and there could also be Terre Haute South or Northview ready to upset the apple cart. South came very close to North a month ago and gets another shot at the Patriots on Friday, remember.
So if there was ever a good year to drive to Seymour (my personal vote is that there wasn’t) it might be this one. Defending state champion Bloomington South looks human, so somebody like Castle or Jeffersonville or Center Grove — its sectional is the one that switched places with ours — might slip into the semistate.
By that time, an awful lot of potential state champions will be at home.
I haven’t done as much research on the private-school classes yet. I still have high hopes for both Sullivan and Rockville, but the Arrows have to get through their sectional first and the Rox have to get healthy.
• Catching up — I didn’t have nearly enough time to reminisce with Danny Bush after the North-Bedford game Saturday night.
Danny might be the most underrated former player and coach in the history of Indiana basketball, and certainly the most unassuming. Somehow he’s been retired for almost two years now, however, while Steve Brett and I continue slaving away.
• Fighting the battle — Clay City’s girls basketball team has been promoting breast cancer awareness all season with pink shoes, and had a raffle Thursday during its game with Sullivan with proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Announced as one of the sponsors of that raffle was the Putnamville Correctional Center on behalf of its employee Marilyn Reed. Marilyn is my sister-in-law and the aunt of Clay City players Abby Reed (my niece) and Abby’s cousins Allie and Claire Miller.
And coach Chris Ames of the Eels still wears the same bracelet I do, in memory of Rachel.
• Optimistic news — Greencastle had a “moment of celebration” at Friday’s boys basketball game against Cascade for Becky Greenlee, recovering in Indianapolis from a heart condition that came up earlier in the week.
Becky, who I’m told is 39, is the wife of Tiger Cubs coach Troy Greenlee and the mother of a pretty extensive family. The best wishes of the entire Wabash Valley go out to her.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. at (812) 231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at email@example.com; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321. Follow @TribStarAndy on Twitter.