TERRE HAUTE —
Three Wabash Valley boys high school basketball teams traveling different paths through the season will try to continue their state-tournament runs today in regional action.
Class A No. 1-ranked Rockville (25-0) is the biggest favorite of the trio. Coach Dave Mahurin’s Rox will battle sixth-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic (16-8) in the second semifinal game at Frankfort, starting at noon. The survivor will face the Liberty Christian-Union (Modoc) winner for the regional championship at 8 p.m.
The Knights from LCC will bring an eight-game winning streak, including three from last week’s Tri-Central Sectional, to Frankfort.
“They’re as good as anybody in Class A,” Mahurin told the Tribune-Star. “They’ve got three shooters who we will have to contain. The best is a kid named [Andrew] Hubertz. They’ve got some big kids, but they don’t have a lot of big skilled players.
“I’m sure they’re going to make it as physical as they can. We can’t let that happen. We’ve got to make sure this is basketball instead of football.”
Mahurin plans to start his son, 6-foot-7 senior Lane Mahurin, along with 6-7 senior Nick Waltz and 6-4 senior Jordon McFall up front and 6-1 senior Gary Ulrich and 5-8 sophomore Keiontre Wilkey at guards. Leading scorers are young Mahurin at 21.8 points per game, Ulrich at 12.6 ppg and McFall at 11.9 ppg.
Coach Mahurin said McFall had been ill this week and missed school Thursday, but his condition improved Friday and he should be able to play.
“We’ve got to match their physicality, block ’em out, and we’ve got to contain their shooters,” Dave Mahurin summarized.
The Rox rolled through the North Vermillion Sectional with triumphs over Riverton Parke (61-40), Turkey Run (85-50) and Covington (51-31).
Over at the Class 2A Southridge Regional, 10th-ranked Linton will come with a 21-3 record against No. 8 Clarksville (18-5) for a 1 p.m. semifinal matchup. The winner will get the Perry Central-Switzerland County victor at 8:30.
Just like at Frankfort, the semifinal matchup involving the Wabash Valley team at Southridge will consist of the two highest-ranked squads in the entire regional.
The Miners, coached by Joey Hart, have been led by 6-5 senior Dess Fougerousse and 6-8 senior Austin Karazsia all season.
Linton captured the North Knox Sectional title by defeating South Knox 67-44, North Knox 69-50 and Sullivan 47-41. The Miners’ only regular-season losses were to Sullivan, Casey, Ill., and Clay City.
The other Valley team still alive this weekend — Clay City (15-8) — did not enjoy as much regular-season success as Rockville or Linton. But the Eels managed to get through the Class A White River Valley Sectional with hard-fought wins over Shakamak (59-57) and WRV (44-42).
Today at Martinsville, Clay City will meet Jac-Cen-Del (8-15) in the second semifinal clash at noon. The earlier semifinal matchup will pit Baptist Academy (13-11) vs. University (13-11), then the regional championship contest is slated for 8 p.m.
Interestingly, all four of these teams are unranked, which may or may not work in Clay City’s favor.
Jac-Cen-Del did lose 15 times this season, but the Eagles from Osgood closed out the South Decatur Sectional with victories over Hauser (65-54), Rising Sun (54-50 in overtime) and South Decatur (39-35).
“I think they’re playing good ball at the right time,” Clay City coach Vance Edmondson said of the Eagles. “As long as you’re playing good ball in the state tournament, it doesn’t matter what your record is.
“Defensively, they’re really aggressive … with a tight man-to-man. If we can handle that initially, that’ll be a big key for us.”
As of Friday afternoon, Edmondson said he was not sure about the status of 6-2 senior Blake Cesinger, who suffered a concussion last weekend. Cesinger averages about 15.5 points and about 9 rebounds per outing.
“We’re letting him do a little more [in practice] each day,” Edmondson mentioned.
If Cesinger is not cleared to suit up today, that doesn’t necessarily mean all is lost for the Eels. They still knocked off WRV without him for the sectional crown last Saturday.
“We’ve been on a pretty good streak,” Edmondson assessed. “A big confidence boost for our guys was winning last Saturday without Blake. … Our young guys are playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Trevor Singer, a 6-2 sophomore, and Evan Rogers, a 6-0 sophomore, each tally about 12 ppg for Clay City.
“I think [the regional] is pretty wide open,” Edmondson concluded. “I think [No. 2-ranked and previously undefeated] Waldron getting upset by Baptist Academy [in the sectional] did everybody a favor. … Whoever has the deepest bench Saturday probably has the best chance of winning.”
Today’s regional champions will advance to the semistate round next weekend.
11 a.m. — Perry Central (21-3) vs. Switzerland County (18-4)
1 p.m. — Linton (21-3) vs. Clarksville (18-5)
8:30 p.m. — Championship game
10 a.m. — Liberty Christian (19-5) vs. Union (Modoc) (17-5)
Noon — Rockville (25-0) vs. Lafayette Central Catholic (16-8)
8 p.m. — Championship game
10 a.m. — Baptist Academy (13-11) vs. University (13-11)
Noon — Jac-Cen-Del (8-15) vs. Clay City (15-8)
8 p.m. — Championship game
Admission — $7 per session or $10 for both sessions.