The pingpong balls did not bounce in Floyd Central’s favor during Sunday’s draw for the Class 4-A girls basketball playoffs at Jennings County.
The Highlanders got the worst-case selection — defending state champion Bedford North Lawrence — in the first round. For everyone else, relief was huge when the Indiana High School Athletic Association unveiled the pairings, even if the respite is brief.
“We all had the same prayer last night,” New Albany coach Tammy Geron said. “That’s a hard way to go.”
New Albany (7-12) will face Seymour (11-6) in the opening game on Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. The No. 2 Stars (18-1) will play the Highlanders (8-9) in the second game. Jeffersonville (14-5) drew a bye to meet the New Albany-Seymour winner in the first semifinal on Feb. 14, while Jennings County (8-8) will await the BNL-Floyd winner.
The final is Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Floyd Central has been competitive with BNL. The Highlanders made the Stars work for last year’s sectional title before falling 54-34, and they held their ground during this season’s clash at BNL, with the Stars prevailing 60-43 on Jan. 18.
“They’ve been there before and they play very confidently,” Floyd coach Kirk Hamsley said. “It doesn’t make any difference if we can compete with them, we have to beat them and take the next step. That’s tough. We’ll do the best we can.”
The Stars do not mind the label of overwhelming favorite. They expect it.
“We’ve dealt with that all year,” BNL coach Damon Bailey said. “We’ve had the target on us every game we’ve played, and we’ve performed well to this point.”
The Stars already own decisive victories over any potential sectional opponent, having won four — with a game at Seymour scheduled for Thursday — by an average of 26.3 points per game.
“We will have to play well,” Bailey said. “They won’t just hand us the trophy. This is what we’ve been waiting on, we’re excited to get going. We’re all familiar with each other, so it doesn’t matter who we drew. We have to go win three games.”
The Bulldogs will look to turn around a 63-55 home loss to the Owls on Jan. 30.
“We’re excited about it,” Geron said. “We didn’t bring our best game, and we match up very well if we play to our potential.”
If any team can claim the best draw, it is Jeffersonville. The Red Devils have been on a roll, winning seven of eight, and they already hold a 47-38 win over New Albany. Jeffersonville is scheduled to host Seymour on Tuesday in a possible sectional preview.
“We’re happy with it,” Jeff coach Mike Warren said. “I’m a big proponent of the bye, and being on the other side of Bedford is big for anybody.”
The Jennings County winner will advance to the two-game regional at Columbus North and meet the champion from the Evansville Central Sectional in the second game on Feb. 22.