4 area high school basketball teams eye Indiana tournament berth

When today ends, the fields for the 104th annual Indiana High School Athletic Association boys basketball state tournament will be carved to a final four in each class. It is the toughest day in the seven-step process to claim a championship.

The process is simple: win two games in one day. But that’s not an easy task. Each of the 64 remaining teams (16 in each of the four classes) has won a sectional and has earned its place. Very few, if any, easy outs remain in the lineup.

Four area teams will be in action, and each storyline is different. New Albany, with a tradition-rich history that includes a state title, is seeking its 17th regional crown. Clarksville, ranked No. 2 in 2-A, has never won one. Silver Creek’s Dragons hope to slay No. 1 Greensburg, while Lanesville could meet Barr-Reeve, Class A’s best, in its final.

The common theme is survival. Each team still standing at the end of the day will be close to the ultimate prize and await word from the IHSAA for its semistate assignment on Sunday. The regional champions in Southern Indiana will either play in Seymour or Richmond next week.

In Class 4-A at Seymour, no clear-cut favorite exists. New Albany (17-6) faces Evansville Central (16-6) in the semifinal, and the Bears already own a regular-season home win over the Bulldogs. But they are comfortable in Seymour’s Scott Gymnasium, having won their sectional there, and are slight favorites in the rematch. The team to watch is Bloomington North (14-8), which thrashed New Albany 71-44 in the regular-season finale and ousted No. 16 Columbus North in the sectional.

In Class 3-A at Washington, Silver Creek (15-8) faces an extreme challenge in No. 1 Greensburg (24-1), which features Division I signees Sean Sellers (Ball State) and Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern). The Dragons have already conquered three ranked teams (Madison, Corydon and Brownstown) in the sectional.

In Class 2-A at Southridge, Clarksville (21-2) in the clear-cut choice. The Generals will meet Austin (13-10) in the semifinal, having already topped the Eagles 51-42 in January. In the opposite bracket, Linton (19-6) is the defending champion and eliminated Clarksville in last year’s semifinal round. The Generals are motivated to make history.

In Class A at Loogootee, Lanesville (15-8) faces a rematch with Northeast Dubois (11-12), one of only three teams in the state to win a sectional with a losing record. The Eagles already hold a 69-51 victory over the Jeeps in December, but they must avoid looking ahead to a possible battle with Barr-Reeve in the final.

In the other regionals that feed into the southern semistates, No. 2 Indianapolis Tech (23-2 with University of Kentucky signee and Mr. Basketball candidate Trey Lyles) is favored in the 4-A quartet at Southport. No. 2 Guerin Catholic (20-3) is the best of the 3-A foursome at Greencastle, and No. 1 Park Tudor (20-4 with heralded Xavier recruit Trevon Bluiett) is favored in the 2-A tourney at Connersville. The Class A regional at Martinsville is a toss-up.

The tournaments will conclude in the state finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 29.

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