INDIANAPOLIS – If you’re trying to figure out which team might have an edge in Saturday’s Kokomo regional, good luck. There is no shortage of storylines in a group that features three of the Top 5-ranked girls basketball teams in Class 4A.
No. 5 Carmel faces Fort Wayne Carroll at 10 a.m. followed by a matchup between No. 2 Homestead (24-2) and No. 3 Zionsville (25-1). The Spartans and Eagles feature the second and third best offenses in the state. And if Carmel advances, it will have the luxury of knowing it has already knocked off both earlier in the season.
“Any of the four could win it and it wouldn’t shock me,” Carmel coach Tod Windlan said.
Carmel’s matchup with Carroll (18-6) looks to be the biggest mismatch of the day. The Chargers are ranked 19th in 4A.
The Chargers rely heavily on the 3-pointer, shooting 20 per game. Windlan said it will be key to contest shots, and also said he hopes Carmel can take advantage of its size. The biggest Carroll post player is 5-10.
“We’re hoping Blake (Smith) and Mackenzie Wood and Jasmine (McWilliams) can do some damage on offensive rebounds and running some sets to get the ball inside,” he said.
The other semifinal won’t lack for offense. Homestead averages 73 points per game. Zionsville averages 70. Both teams feature a duo of high-scoring players — Homestead has Florida recruit Karissa McLaughlin and Madisen Parker, while Zionsville has Rachel McLimore and Maddie Nolan.
Some teams have tried to counter the Homestead attack by slowing the game down and limiting Spartans possessions. Eagles coach Andy Maguire said his team won’t take that approach.
“We’ll try to go possession by possession,” he said. “We can score pretty well, too. We’re going to do the things that have gotten us to this point and hope that that’s going to be good enough.”
Homestead coach Rod Parker said his team and Zionsville “mirror each other a lot.”
“We both want to have an up-tempo game, but I’ve told our kids that we still have to defend and get stops,” he said. “We talked about slowing them up and putting them in a position to take difficult shots. We’ve got to force them into half-court offense.”
Carmel (22-3) dealt Zionsville its only loss of the season in early November. While McLimore and Nolan combined for 36, no one else scored more than 10 for Zionsville. Maguire said his team is deeper now.
“We have more players that can contribute than we did at that point, and I think our players have all gotten better,” he said. “We’ve had kids really step up. Our starting five has been solid all year, but our bench has really started to contribute.”
Carmel handed Homestead a two-point overtime loss in January in what Windlan said was the team’s “best defensive performance of the season by far.” McLaughlin and Parker combined for just 26 points while Amy Dilk scored 28. Carmel stymied Homestead’s offense in the second half and overtime by limiting their possessions and forcing them to abandon their fast-tempo style.
“To win a state title or a regional of this magnitude, we’ve got to be able to play at different tempos and be successful and adapt,” Parker said. “Good teams are going to work to take something away.”
Other 4A regionals
At Decatur Central
Matchups: North Central (26-0) vs. New Castle (16-9), 10 a.m.; Brownsburg (15-10) vs. Pike (21-3), noon; championship, 8 p.m.
At a glance: North Central and Pike appear to be favorites in the early games. Three Pike players average double figures (Angel Baker, 19.4; Michaela White, 10.9; Jada Roberson, 10.5) and should test Brownsburg, the Hendricks County champions. Wins by the Panthers and Red Devils would set up a third meeting between the two teams this season. North Central won the first two matchups, though its seven-point win in the Marion County tournament was the team’s closest game this season. Pike has won its last three games by a combined seven points.
At Bedford North Lawrence
Matchups: Evansville Central (23-1) vs. Columbus North (19-7), 10:30 a.m.; Martinsville (21-4) vs. Bedford North Lawrence (20-4), 12:30 p.m.; championship, 8 p.m.
At a glance: Evansville Central’s only loss of the season was to Bedford North Lawrence, while three of Bedford North Lawrence’s losses came to Top 5 teams (North Central, Zionsville and Carmel). Evansville Central’s defense is seventh-best in the state. Bedford North Lawrence is led by Jorie Allen (17.5 ppg) and Kennedy Bunch (11.7 ppg). Martinsville is led by Kayana Traylor (23.4 ppg) and Merideth Deckard (12.4 ppg). Columbus North is looking for its third straight regional title.
At Columbia City
Matchups: Heritage Christian (19-6) vs. Norwell (16-9), 10 a.m.; Fort Wayne Concordia (20-4) vs. Tippecanoe Valley (22-4), noon; championship, 8 p.m.
At a glance: Heritage Christian has won four straight regional titles, and looks to be the favorite to win a fifth. Tippecanoe Valley appears the toughest test for the Eagles. The Vikings allow 36 points per game.
Matchups: Crispus Attucks (19-5) vs. Northview (19-7), 10 a.m.; Lebanon (18-7) vs. Danville (16-10), noon; championship, 8 p.m.
At a glance: Danville beat Lebanon by 11 on the road in December. Attucks features the best offense of the group and the sixth-best offense in the class. Neither Attucks nor Northview has faced any of the regional teams this season. Lebanon is looking for a repeat regional title. No other team at the site has won a regional title in program history.
Matchups: Winchester (20-9) vs. Covenant Christian (14-9), 10 a.m.; Eastern Hancock (14-10) vs. South Putnam (15-10), noon; championship, 8 p.m.
At a glance: Covenant looks like a favorite to repeat as regional champions, especially after No. 1 Triton Central and No. 7 Cascade lost in sectionals — both teams that dealt the Warriors losses earlier in the season. The Warriors already beat Eastern Hancock by 13 in January.
At Southwestern (Shelbyville)
Matchups: Jac-Cen-Del (22-4) vs. Bloomfield (11-13), 10 a.m.; Tindley (13-6) vs. Lutheran (13-11), noon; championship, 8 p.m.
At a glance: No. 4 Jac-Cen-Del and No. 7 Tindley should breeze to the championship game. Tindley features the best offense in the state (82 points per game) and would provide a tough test for Jac-Cen-Del’s defense, which allows 41 per game.
Follow IndyStar high school sports writer Matthew VanTryon on Twitter:@MVanTryon.
INDIANA SPORTS AWARDS
The Indiana Sports Awards will honor athletes in 38 categories — specific sports as well as well as at-large entries such as Male and Female Athletes of the Year. The event will be theater-style this year at Clowes Memorial Hall and include the announcement of IndyStar Mr. Basketball, presented by the Indiana Pacers, and IndyStar Miss Basketball, presented by the Indiana Fever. Recently retired Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee will serve as the keynote speaker.