High school basketball returns to Hulman Center on Saturday for the Gobbler Games Shootout.

Six games are scheduled at two-hour intervals, with four of the 12 teams expected to be ranked in the first state polls and a fifth team a defending sectional champion from a year ago. It should be a nice appetizer for four days of all-day basketball a month from now at the First Financial Wabash Valley Classic.

Tickets are $8 for all day.

A group of Wabash Valley businessmen — Ryan Luce, Jeff Michalic, Chad Overton and Rob York — most of whom offered their services last year to help the COVID-affected Wabash Valley Classic proceed, came up with the idea to put a day together in Hulman Center, and Saturday is the result. Tentative plans are for the Shootout to become an annual event.

In chronological order, here’s what fans can expect to see.

West Vigo vs. North Vermillion — This has been a traditional season-opener for these two teams for awhile now, although last year’s game wound up in January thanks to the pandemic.

The Vikings have won their last two meetings with the Falcons easily, but this one might be a little less predictable. West Vigo has just one starter back to North Vermillion’s five, and the Falcons have also played a game (somehow managing to loss by 18 in a four-minute overtime).

Bloomfield vs. Cloverdale — These two teams don’t play each other on a regular basis, although they could do so twice in a month depending on the draw for the 2021 Wabash Valley Classic.

Almost assured of being a Class A top-10 team when the polls come out next week, Bloomfield opened its season by overpowering Owen Valley, while Cloverdale was nip and tuck with Terre Haute South for three quarters before losing its opener.

Each team has a star to watch: Baylin Graf of the Cardinals, Kyle Thomas of the Clovers.

Northview vs. North Central — This isn’t a pairing of traditional rivals either but does feature two teams who expect to be good this season.

Neither might be at the top of its game in the opener. Northview lost its two top players from a sectional championship team a year ago (but retains six of its top eight), and North Central might be iffy at the start of the season for a pleasant reason — a lot of the Thunderbirds got a late start because of football success.

Terre Haute North vs. Evansville Central — The Bears have been the Patriots’ opponent near the beginning of the last two seasons, with North taking both those games by double-digit margins.

The Patriots were very impressive for three quarters in an opening win Wednesday against Mooresville. The Bears are an unknown, but seem to be on an upswing after losing to both North and Terre Haute South early last season.

Terre Haute South vs. Barr-Reeve — Despite their opening-game win on Tuesday, the Braves are probably the underdog here against a Barr-Reeve team that won by 13 points against Washington in the Hatchet House.

South showcased some quickness and length in its opening win. The Vikings, perhaps a pandemic away from moving up to Class 2A, are the defending Class A state champions, expected to win the state in the shortened 2020 season, and were state runner-up in 2019.

Barr-Reeve coach Josh Thompson may arrive for the 12:30 game, not only to watch his alma mater play but to scout the Bloomfield team the Vikings might face in a crucial postseason game.

Parke Heritage vs. Linton — Speaking of the shortened 2020 season, this fitting climax to the day matches teams that might have played each other for the Class 2A state championship had that year been concluded. A one-point regional loss kept Linton from possibly meeting the Wolves in the semistate last season.

A rivalry of sorts is being developed as a result, and the Miners beat the Wolves in Linton a year ago. This year’s matchup figures to be size (Linton) vs. speed (Parke Heritage). Linton has a game under its belt, having used a second-half comeback to beat Class A power Indianapolis Metro. 

Trending Video