Sectionals ready to kick off in Princeton, Loogootee

Feb. 26—The two area sectionals will be very competitive this week in both Class A and 3A.

The 3A sectional will take place in Princeton and will feature Washington and North Daviess, while Barr-Reeve, Loogootee and Washington Catholic will play at Jack Butcher Arena in the Class A tilt.


The 3A sectional will be incredibly competitive as every team has at least 11 wins and even teams in the bottom half of the sectional can't be counted out as a potential champion.

The sectional opens with North Daviess and Southridge, and the winner of that game will then go on to face Vincennes Lincoln in the bye-game on Friday. The Cougars are the defending sectional champions and are 15-8. The only sectional opponent they have faced was Washington, a team they beat 31-29. They have completely revamped their roster having graduated every starter, but used a familiar approach from coach Brent Dalrymple where they grind their way to low-scoring wins. They have had big wins over WHS, Bloomfield and Mater Dei, but even their losses have been very close.

They have been led by sophomores Aaron Marner, Collin Lengacher and Keaton Graber, as ND has a solid roadmap for the future, while upperclassmen Landon Swartzentruber, Max Toy, Luke Marner, Wyatt Bishop and Travis Raber all stepped up this season to take over for the generational class that graduated in May. Lengacher is averaging 9.6 points and Aaron Marner, 9.1, while Swartzentruber gets 7.1.

ND ended the regular season with a big win over 18-win Sullivan on Thursday.

The Cougs will face Southridge in the first game on Tuesday, a team that is 16-6 and won 10 of its first 11. They are coached by former Loogootee coach Ryan Haywood. The Raiders have beaten some very good teams like Washington, Jasper, Pike Central, Boonville and Heritage Hills. Their losses have come to quality opponents as well, like Orleans, Barr-Reeve, Evansville Christian and Princeton. They don't have a lot of size but are an excellent 3-point shooting team featuring Tate Whitehead and Cam Haywood, with Brock Thacker as a bigger body.

The Hatchets will be playing Pike Central in the first game on Wednesday and Heritage Hills and Princeton follow in the second game. Those two winners will meet on Friday.

WHS has had a great second half of the season and won nine of their last 11 games. They lost close games to Pike Central, Southridge, North Posey, Barr-Reeve, North Daviess and Loogootee earlier in the year, but have turned it around with good finishes against Jasper, Mt. Vernon, Gibson Southern and Bloomfield for wins. They finished off the year with a loss to Memorial, 67-51.

WHS has been led by junior Colton Stowers who is getting around 17 ppg, alternating between is 3-point shooting and his ability to drive. Seniors Chris Meredith and Ole Kroeger have both finished off the year handling a lot the rebounding and adding scoring. Brant Neidigh has found his niche with recent double digit scoring efforts.

Cordell Turner is a sophomore, who both can score with athleticism and rebound. He often provides a scoring spark when he enters games. Sophomore Cooper Wright has taking up the point spot with Kaleb Waller coming off the bench with many of the same skills as Wright.

Pike Central is 12-11 for coach Hunter Elliott, who is now in his seventh season as coach. They started off the year at 1-5, but are now 2-3 against sectional opponents. They do have quality wins against Washington, Boonville, Evansville Central and most notably Heritage Hills.

Quade Morton has been Pike's leading scorer getting 18 ppg, while Julian Gish added 15 and Jiles Mason adds 9.5.

In the second game, Heritage Hills and Princeton play. Statistically they are the two top teams in the sectional with 19 and 16 wins. They met just last week with Heritage Hills winning, 67-52.

The Patriots' losses have come to Guerin Catholic, Jasper, Pike Central and Southridge, two of which are sectional opponents.

The Patriots have by far the area's top player in 6-7 Trent Sisley. He is averaging 21 ppg and has offers from Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa as well as several other Power 5 schools. He is getting 24 ppg and 11 boards with 45 blocks, while teammates Colton Hopf, Peyton Gray and Jake Prior are just under 10 points a game, adding to the firepower.

Princeton (16-7) did lose to sectional foes Washington and Heritage Hills, but their other three losses came to quality Evansville-area programs like Evansville Christian, Memorial and North Posey, along with Indy North Central. They capped off the regular season with a 30-point win over Tecumseh.

Jace Jenkins is the Tigers top scorer getting 21 ppg and Reggie MacIntyre will also bring challenges for HH to handle.

The team with the bye is Vincennes Lincoln. Although they only have 11 wins, they recently play very well against Evansville Memorial. Their lone sectional opponent win was an early season victory over Pike Central.


In the Class A tournament in Loogootee, Barr-Reeve, Loogootee and Orleans appear to be the frontrunners. Class A No. 3 Orleans certainly has the easiest path to the finals, playing 9-14 Shoals and then most likely facing 5-15 Rivet in the Friday bye game. The Bulldogs are 19-3, with only a 3OT loss to Barr-Reeve and 4A New Albany on Dec. 15. They did have a win against Loogootee, but ended the year with 78-47 loss to Brownstown Central.

Veteran coach Tom Bradley is just two wins away from his 400th, and as a school, have been playing basketball since 1912 but have just one regional title, making this year a good opportunity to add to that.

The Bulldogs are led by Rylan Crocker getting 14 points a game while Xavier Alston and Ian Hall are also scoring in double figures. Alston and Hall are also getting around 4.2 boards a game.

Shoals at 9-14 also produces a scrappy team from coach Michael Hopkins. They are 2-3 against sectional opponents, with wins over WC and Rivet. If Shoals can beat Orleans, they do already have a win over Rivet who would be their Friday opponent. The Rox are led by Maliki Bridges and Brydon McKibben.

Rivet, which has the bye, is 5-16 and has two wins over WC for coach Mark Bezy.

On the other side of the bracket is where a lot of the action will take place.

No. 1 Barr-Reeve (20-2) has a similar pedigree as Orleans, with just an early season loss to Clay City and a loss to 4A Jasper. They have beaten all six teams in the sectional, but the wins over Loogootee and Orleans were by a combined five points. B-R added a big come-from-behind win against Southridge along with wins over Washington, Lincoln and Robinson (Ill.) and finished the year with a victory over Bloomfield.

The Vikes tend to show balanced scoring with Seth Wagler and Donnie Miller each netting around 12 ppg. Braydon Knepp is a more than capable 3-point shooter also getting just under 12, with Landon Miller and Kendall Graber also giving B-R scoring capabilities. Evan Wehmeier is the Viking big man and his role in the offense has also grown as the season has progressed. He and Graber led the team in rebounds, while he also has 17 blocks this season.

The Vikes will take on 2-19 Washington Catholic. WC's wins came over Seven Oaks Classical Academy and a 55-50 win over Cannelton in the finale. B-R beat them 79-24 earlier in the year. Their leading scorers are seniors Justin Sipes (9.5 ppg) and Isaac Halter (10.1). As a team they rely heavily on 3-point shooting. Aiden Henry, David Wagner and Abdu Asker also provide some scoring. WC is giving up 71.4 ppg and scoring 28.

In the other game on Wednesday, 16-7 No. 7 Loogootee takes on 13-8 Springs Valley. The Lions, under new coach Dave Smith, downed the Blackhawks, 70-39 earlier in the year. The Lions were snake-bit in close losses to B-R, Orleans, Paoli and Forest Park and were just a few points from what could have been a 20-win season. The Lions also had several signature wins over Washington, Jasper and Bloomfield.

The Lions were led this season by Isaac Waggner (13.5), Leighton Jeffers (11.1) and AJ Foster (11.5), each who could have led the team in scoring on any given night. Drew Walker also provided plenty of intangibles along with about 8 ppg, while Brandon Bledsoe was a constant 3-point threat.

Springs Valley (13-9) does have a previous loss to Orleans, B-R and a 70-39 loss to the Lions. The ended the regular season with a 90-40 loss to Evansville Harrison.

Valley is led by junior guard Deion Edwards, who is getting almost 24 ppg and eight rebounds. Konner Chase also chips in 14.4 a game for Larry Bird's old school.

Sectional tickets must be purchased online. Doors will open approximately 50 minutes before the first game is scheduled to start.