Some of the state’s top girls basketball teams converge at Tiernan Center this Saturday.
Richmond High School will host two Indiana semistate games, starting with the 1 p.m. Class A battle between Vincennes Rivet and Southwestern (Shelbyville). Both teams are 21-4.
The Class 3A clash between Rushville and Mt. Vernon (Fortville) follows. Rushville is 22-3 and Mount Vernon is 21-4.
“They are all pretty good (teams) at this point,” said RHS athletic director Chad Bolser. “Obviously we were pleased with the relative proximity to us, with the exception of Vincennes. I think that will lend itself to have a good atmosphere and good fans and all that good stuff.”
Admission is $8. Winners advance to the state finals March 2 at Terre Haute.
In the other Class A semistate game, Lafayette Central Catholic (17-9) takes on Fort Wayne Canterbury (23-2) at Crown Point. Also at Crown Point, Class 3A’s Hamilton Heights (22-2) meets Benton Central (22-3).
Mt. Vernon is sixth in Class 3A and Rushville is ranked seventh. In Class A, Vincennes Rivet is fourth and Southwestern is 11th.
“I just think we were fortunate with how everything shook out in terms of who is coming here,” Bolser said.
Rushville is the closest competitor, at a little less than an hour from Richmond.
“They’ve had a long-standing tradition. Being in the semistate and going deep in the tournament is something they are very used to,” Bolser said of Rushville. “I think they were very excited about being here, someplace they are familiar with. Rushville is a good program that has had great basketball for lots and lots of years.”
Mt. Vernon and Southwestern are both less than 90 minutes from Richmond. Vincennes has by far the longest route to Richmond at about 200 miles and nearly 4 hours.
Annie Thomas leads Southwestern with 22 points per game. Sydney Shelton is Mt. Vernon’s leading scorer with 18.5 points per game, while Mackenzie Campbell leads Rushville with 15.1
Rushville and Mt. Vernon both play in the Hoosier Heritage Conference. Mt. Vernon edged Rushville 68-66 on Nov. 16 in the regular-season meeting. The Mauraders went on to finish 7-0 in conference play.
Rushville owns four semistate titles, with the last coming in 2010. Vincennes Rivet has three, the most recent in 2011, and Mt. Vernon has two, including a championship last season.
Tiernan Center will also be the site for two boys basketball semistate games on March 16.
“It is one of those situations where everybody benefits,” Bolser said. “It’s good for our kids to see championship basketball, and it’s obviously our hope that at some point we’re in it, whether it be the girls program or the boys program.”
Richmond’s boys basketball program owns four semistate championships.
The last postseason basketball event at Tiernan was the 2007 girls sectional. The last boys basketball postseason event at Tiernan was the 2005 sectional.
“You just want to do it right and, if there is such a thing, overextend the hospitality here. We want people to understand we want postseason basketball here,” Bolser said. “We want to appreciate it and not take it for granted. We know it hasn’t been here for a long time, and we want to show the fact that we’re happy those teams are here.”