Local basketball teams are gearing up for sectional play. Here’s a look at how they got here and what they expect going forward:
Class 4A: New Albany
The Seymour boys basketball team couldn’t have drawn a much tougher opponent than New Albany in the first round of sectional.
At 20-2, the Bulldogs rank No. 5 in Class 4A. They’ve won 12 straight games since Jan. 3 and own this season’s Hoosier Hills Conference Title.
The Bulldog’s two losses this season came to No. 1 Evansville Reitz (23-0) and No. 2 Carmel (20-2).
In their regular season matchup, the Bulldogs downed the Owls 67-41 on Dec. 19.
One of the Owls’ points of emphasis will be to keep freshman phenom Romeo Langford to a low point total. In their last game, Langford dropped 21 points.
After trailing 30-13 at intermission, the Owls climbed back to make it a 13-point game. However, the hill was too steep that night.
“It was a 13 point game in the third quarter,” Owls coach Kyle Clough said. “I thought we did some good things defensively against them last time. … Against a team like that you have to be so good for so long. You can’t afford any miscues.”
In their previous game, the Owls committed 18 turnovers to the Bulldogs’ 23.
“We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball, but that’s easier said than done against a team like that,” Clough said. “They’re phenomenal defensively and very talented offensively. We don’t have a whole lot to lose here. We’re going to go out and play hard and do some different things defensively to get them uncomfortable.”
Toriek Miller led Jackson County this season averaging 18.5 points per game. Miller, Isaiah Thomas and Ty Christensen have shouldered most of the Owls’ points this season.
“Our guys have to be ready for the challenge and go into it ready to fire some shots and 3-pointers,” Clough said. “We need to be as good defensively as we’ve been all year. We’ve had spurts this year where I know we can guard a team like this. This time of year you have to give your best performance no matter who you’re playing.”
This season, the Owls have more wins than the past two seasons combined.
The last time the Owls had at least eight wins was during the 2010-11 season.
“We don’t have a lot to lose here,” Clough said. “Our kids are going to play fearless and free. We’re going to give them some freedom to try and make some great plays and see what happens.”
BROWNSTOWN CENTRAL (17-3)
Class 3A: Corydon Central
Coach Dave Benter said he feels his team needs a better offensive showing when it battles Silver Creek tonight in the Corydon Central Sectional.
Madison will play Salem at 6 p.m., and that game will be followed by Brownstown-Silver Creek.
The Dragons defeated the Braves 59-56 at home Jan. 16.
Silver Creek won the Mid-Southern Conference (9-0), while the Braves were second at 8-1.
“We’ve got to be better offensively,” Benter said. “The first time we played them I thought we really timed offensively. Our ball movement, our cutting, our screening, our individual plays, we’ve got to have guys make plays. They are so long and athletic and solid defensively. They are longer and taller than us at every position.”
Zach McCory was high scorer for the Braves in the first matchup against the Dragons with 20 points. Cam Shoemaker scored 17, and Jacoby Shade scored 14.
Shade tops the Braves in scoring at 17 points per game, followed by McCory at 14, and Shoemaker is averaging 12.
Brownstown out-rebounded Silver Creek 32-28 in the earlier game.
“Rebounding is going to be a huge factor,” Benter said. “We’ve got to rebound the basketball. Free throws were a big issue for both teams the first time we played.”
The Braves made 15 of 23 at the line, while the Dragons were only 19 for 36 from the charity stripe.
“It’s little things, I told the guys,” Benter said. “In tournament play it all comes down to little things. A made layup here, a made free throw here, not traveling here, diving on the floor for a loose ball, or stepping in and taking a charge. Tournament games usually come down to one or two possessions. Those little things are huge.”
Benter said playing tough teams like Columbus East and Orleans at the end of the season, and winning the Graber Post Buildings Tournament during the holidays should help his team.
“Our guys are experienced,” he said. “They’ve played in big games. Most teams we play against are bigger than us. We’ve got Cam and Jacobi; we’ve got some length. We don’t have a lot of 6-5, 6-6, 6-7 guys. Silver Creek has 6-7, 6-6 and several 6-2, 6-3 guys.
“We’ve just got to make sure we control what we can control, make it difficult for them to score, and be efficient on the offensive end.”
Class 1A: Orleans
The Crothersville boys basketball team aims for a different result against West Washington the second time around.
On Jan. 13, the Tigers fell 73-60 in a home contest.
“That game, we came out flat,” Tigers coach Greg Kilgore said. “We were down 8 or 10 in the first quarter. We need to get off to a better start.”
The Tigers pulled within four points in the third quarter but couldn’t climb to a lead.
“Two of the quarters were very good,” Kilgore said. “The other two were bad or just average. We’re not a really good team at playing behind. We need to get an early start.”
This season has seen its ups and downs for the Tigers.
Following a 1-11 start, the Tigers won three of their next four games.
Their largest margin of victory came Jan. 9 in a 88-51 trouncing at Cannelton.
This season, transfer Eli Mollet has led the Tigers in scoring and on the boards. Mollet averages 11 points per contest and nearly seven rebounds per game.
Mollet has missed the previous two games after sustaining a head injury with concussion-like symptoms.
However, Kilgore is optimistic that Mollet will return to the lineup Tuesday.
“As long as Eli is back, our advantage is to go inside,” Kilgore said. “Then we can hopefully make some jumpers from the post out. Hopefully, he and Jordan (Schoenfelder) give us an advantage rebounding and offensively in the post.”
Two seniors, Schoenfelder and Dakota Mount, look to lead the young Tigers squad into the postseason.
“I mostly want to see leadership from those two (seniors),” Kilgore said. “Mount is a hustle player who needs to get some steals and draw a charge or two. That’s where he gets his scoring. Jordan is more of a player in the half court with his size and athleticism.”
Schoenfelder has been putting up 9.5 points per game, and Mount averages 8.7.
If Kilgore can rally his players early and get his team to sustain mental consistency, he said he feels they have a strong chance.
“I want to see use compete for four quarters,” Kilgore said. “That’s kind of what I’ve been looking for all year. That’s something we’re trying to build for the future. We can’t play sporadically.”
TRINITY LUTHERAN (17-5)
Class 1A: Orleans
Trinity Lutheran coach Aaron Rudzinski has welcomed the bye giving his team a chance to attend the sectional tonight.
“That’s probably the best we could have hoped for just having that extra day to go and watch the other teams, and getting to spend those extra days for practice,” he said.
Trinity will play the winner of tonight’s West Washington-Crothersville game in the 6 p.m. game Friday.
The Cougars defeated the Senators 73-60 on Dec. 13, and the Tigers 78-55 on Jan. 30.
“When we played West Washington it was a close game,” Rudzinski said. “We got to play them on our court, so I think that helped us a little bit. Having to go and play them on a neutral court is going to be maybe a little different for us.”
Both teams will look to avenge their regular-season losses.
“I’m sure they’re going to be pretty motivated to get back and beat us,” Rudzinski said. “What we did well that night was late in the game we were able to frustrate their guards a little bit because their guards are so good penetrating, so if we’re able to contain their dribble penetration pretty well, I think we’ll have a good chance to win.”
Rudzinski said his team will have to take advantage of its size no matter who it faces.
“We have a size advantage with (the Tigers), so we’ve got to make sure we’re using that,” Rudzinski said. “We’ve got to attack the glass really hard and throw the ball into the post, work the inside, outside game. We’ve got to dominate the inside game as far as with our height, and make sure we utilize that, and we’re going to try and don’t try to depend on the outside shot.”
The Cougars are defending sectional champs.
“On the offensive side we’ve got to execute, we’ve got to be able to hit our shots. If we have a nice, balanced approach and play unselfish, I think we’ll have a good chance. We’ve had good balanced scoring. Just about any night and any of our three, four or five guys can be our leading scorer, so that’s a key for us.”
Daniel Horton leads the Cougars in scoring at 15.3, Toby VanLiew is averaging 12.2, and Jacob Christopher and Luke Stuckwisch are just below 10 per game.
“Orleans is the favorite,” Rudzinski said. “They are the highest ranked and have the best record in the tournament.”
The Cougars are 3-0 against sectional teams with wins against Crothersville, West Washington and Medora, and they did not face Orleans or Springs Valley.
“If we’re going to win the sectional this year we’re going to have to make sure we defend really well. A big part of that is controlling possessions on their end so they only get one shot,” Rudzinski said. “We’ve got to rebound well. We can’t give them extra opportunities each possession.
Class 1A: Orleans
No matter who Medora draw in the semifinals, they know it will be a battle.
The Hornets drew a bye in the lower bracket and will face the winner of the Orleans-Springs Valley game in the 7:30 game Friday.
“The bye is nice,” Leitzman said. “We will play (one of) two really good teams. We have to be ready to take care of the basketball.”
Orleans and Springs Valley will play the second game tonight.
Orleans won the Patoka Lake Conference and was ranked No. 2 in Class 1A in the final poll of the regular season.
The Hornets played both Patoka Lake Conference teams at home in December, lost to Springs Valley 35-33 in overtime Dec. 6 and lost to Orleans 60-34 on Dec. 19.
Leitzman said the Bulldogs and Blackhawks run very different offenses — Orleans relies heavily on outside shooting, while Valley’s strength is its inside game.
“Orleans is very guard-orientated,” Leitzman said. “Cale Hall is a very good guard, and we’ll have to do a better job of guarding him than we did in the earlier game. We have to defend all five players on the perimeter.”
Hall scored 31 points in the December game.
Kam Flynn topped the Hornets in scoring against Valley with 16 points, while Chase Booker was the high-scorer for Medora against Orleans with 11 points.
“We have to defend well and slow down every possession and get a good shot,” Leitzman said as keys to the game. “For the most part we’ve done a good job of handling the ball,”
Flynn leads the Hornets in scoring at 11.6 points per game, while Jalen Beesley is next at 10.4 per outing.
The Hornets finished strong by beating Washington Catholic and Baptist Academy last week and are 8-15 entering the tournament.
The Hornets were 1-5 against sectional teams during the season.
Class 4A Sectional 15
Game 1: New Albany (20-2) vs. Seymour (8-13), 6 p.m.
Game 2: Jennings County (11-11) vs. Bedford N. Lawrence (10-14), 7:30
Game 3: Floyd Central (12-8) vs. winner game 1, 6 p.m.
Game 4: Jeffersonville (8-13) vs. winner game 2, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: winner game 3 vs. winner game 4, 7:30 p.m.
Class 3A Sectional 30 at Corydon Central
Game 1: Madison (13-8) vs. Salem (9-12), 6 p.m.
Game 2: Brownstown Central (17-3) vs. Silver Creek (20-2), 7:30 p.m.
Game 3: Scottsburg (14-7) vs. North Harrison (7-15), 6 p.m.
Game 4: Corydon (15-7) vs. Charlestown (9-12), 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: winner game 1 vs. winner game 2, 6 p.m.
Game 6: winner game 3 vs. winner game 4, 7;30 p.m.
Game 7: winner game 5 vs. winner game 6, 7:30 p.m.
Class 1A Sectional 61 at Orleans
Game 1: West Washington (11-10) vs. Crothersville (6-17) 6 p.m.
Game 2: Orleans (18-3) vs. Springs Valley (6-16), 7:30 p.m.
Game 3: Trinity Lutheran (17-5) vs. winner game 1, 6 p.m.
Game 4: Medora (8-15) vs. winner game 2, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: winner game 3 vs. winner game 4, 7:30 p.m.
Collin DeHart, senior, 3.8 ppg
Cam Shoemaker, junior, 12.5 ppg
Zach McCory, junior, 14.4 ppg
Jacobi Shade, junior, 17.3 ppg
Carson Lambring, sophomore, 2.6 ppg
Dakota Mount, senior, 8.7 ppg
Jordan Schoenfelder, senior, 9.6 ppg
Micah Mains, junior, 6.4 ppg
Ty Luedeman, junior, 7.5 ppg
Conner Adams, junior, 7.6 ppg
Austin Fish, senior, 4.3 ppg
Kirk Stewart, senior, 6.0 ppg
Chase Booker, junior, 6.9 ppg
Jalen Beesley, junior, 10.4 ppg
Kam Flynn, junior, 11.7 ppg
Ty Christensen, senior, 7.2 ppg
Isaiah Thomas, senior, 9.5 ppg
Ryan Wieneke, junior, 4.8 ppg
Toriek Miller, junior, 17.9 ppg
Alan Perry, freshman, 3.9 ppg
Luke Stuckwisch, senior, 9.9 ppg
Jacob Christopher, senior, 10.4 ppg
Toby VanLiew, senior, 12.3 ppg
Keegan Rebber, junior, 7.1
Daniel Horton, junior, 15.3 ppg