News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

February 5, 2013

Pressure rises as girls begin sectionals

One coach warns that dreams can be shattered quickly

TERRE HAUTE — Postseason dreams for Indiana girls high school basketball players become reality starting today — and could be shattered in a hurry, one coach warned this week.

“The first game at 6 [p.m.] is always the upset game,” said coach Cara Stuckey of Terre Haute South, whose Braves — not coincidentally at all — happen to be the on-paper favorite in their own gym at that hour this evening.

South hosts a Class 4A sectional that’s always interesting, although a little predictable lately. Mooresville, which won’t play until Friday’s second semifinal game, has won the last four.

South and Terre Haute North, with identical records and a split of two games so far this winter, would seem as likely as any to be the teams threatening the Pioneers’ dominance, but both have to win tonight to have a chance to do that.

“Our goal, just like all six teams, is to try to win a sectional championship,” said Stuckey, whose team meets a vastly improved Northview team in that sectional opener, “but that won’t happen without a win [today].”

The Knights gave North a major scare in last year’s sectional, even though they’d had a one-win season and weren’t completely healthy. This year Northview is close to .500 and at full strength.

“We know [the Knights will] be ready to play,” Stuckey said. “We’ll have to match their intensity.”

Coach Mike Allen of North has similar thoughts, since the Patriots open against a Martinsville team that rarely, if ever, takes a night off.

“We’ve got a tough road ahead of us,” he said. “[Martinsville] is always very fundamental and a very scrappy, aggressive team. … We have to eliminate our turnovers and value each possession.”

Class 3A sectional play for Wabash Valley teams is at Brown County, and coach Ryan Easton of West Vigo is hopeful his team, despite its 5-15 record, might be in a position to threaten.

“The biggest deficit we’ve had [against any potential sectional opponent] is 12 points,” he said this week. “That was against Greencastle [the Vikings’ 6 p.m. foe today], and they hit 15 more free throws than we did.”

West Vigo’s January slate included games against some of the best teams in the area on either side of the state line. “Our schedule was brutal after Christmas,” Easton said, “but that got us ready for this week.”

The Valley’s highest-rated team is Sullivan, third in the final Class 2A poll, and the Golden Arrows are sectional hosts as well. That doesn’t mean coach Julie Meeks is taking anything for granted.

“I’m very proud of the girls; we’ve had a great season, and they have a lot to look forward to,” she said. “But when you go into the sectional, that record doesn’t mean anything.

“You’ve got to believe in yourselves and keep doing what you’ve been doing,” Meeks continued. “I want us to be confident, but I don’t want us to go in overconfident. We need to make sure we play our best.”

The Valley’s best record among Indiana teams is North Vermillion’s 21-2 mark, but the Falcons aren’t even the highest-ranked team in their own Class A sectional.

Seventh-ranked North Vermillion has split with sixth-ranked Riverton Parke, and the Panthers are defending regional champions. Those two could meet in a highly anticipated championship game Saturday — or not.

“I’m not even looking there,” said coach Terry Naylor of North Vermillion. “Twelve or 13 years ago we had a team that was 20-0 and it got beat in the first game [of the sectional.”

Clay City’s Eels are the three-time defending champions of their own Class A sectional and open play Friday against White River Valley, the only team with a winning record this season. Most games involving the conference rivals in the field have been close, so the Eels, the Wolverines, Shakamak and Union all have hopes.

n Illinois under way — Play began Monday in Illinois regional tournaments, with Class 2A tournaments at Marshall and Tuscola and Class A affairs at Neoga and Villa Grove.

Eighth-ranked Marshall is hopeful of just its second girls regional championship, and the Lions have beaten the four Little Illini Conference teams in the field there.

Pana is the ninth-ranked Class 2A team and the top seed at Tuscola, while Shiloh is ranked ninth in Class A and plays at Villa Grove.

Girls postseason basketball

Indiana sectionals

Class 4A

At Terre Haute South

Today — Terre Haute South (14-7) vs. Northview (8-13), followed by Martinsville (11-10) vs. Terre Haute North (14-7)

Friday — Plainfield (9-11) vs. South-Northview winner, followed by Mooresville (16-4) vs. Martinsville-North winner

Saturday — Championship, 7 p.m.

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