Winners, losers and major takeaways from IHSAA sectional realignment for next 2-year cycle

The Indiana High School Athletic Association executive committee approved the new sectional assignments in six team sports for the next two-year period Tuesday.

Baseball and softball sectional assignments will be approved in August. Here are eight of my biggest takeaways from the sectional unveiling:

North half of Class 6A football changes

Welcome back, Carmel.

The Greyhounds went south the past two years in Class 6A football, but will return to the north half of the bracket and join with Westfield, Zionsville and Noblesville in Sectional 4. Westfield reached the 6A state finals each of the past two seasons and Zionsville moves up from Class 5A after reaching the state finals in that class each of the past two seasons.

Carmel football moves back to the north half of Class 6A.
Carmel football moves back to the north half of Class 6A.

The other interesting note in the north half of 6A is Fishers and Hamilton Southeastern joining Sectional 3 with Fort Wayne Northrop and Homestead. I thought Fishers and HSE might be placed with Carmel and Zionsville, but it makes sense this way, too.

I’d say Fishers and HSE are the winners here, if you want to look at it that way. HSE has not won a sectional title since 2011 and Fishers since 2017. Carmel and/or Westfield won’t be in the way for the next two years.

Warren Central a winner in new alignment

Remember the firestorm several years ago when Ben Davis and Warren Central were placed in the same sectional? Yeah, it did not make much sense did it? But you won’t hear a peep out of Warren Central — a least any complaints — about the next two-year cycle.

The Warriors go into Sectional 7 with Tech, Perry Meridian and Southport. Those three programs have struggled mightily to compete in sectional play in recent years. Mike Kirschner’s program should be a significant favorite in that field.

Cathedral moves into Class 6A due to the tournament success factor and will join Lawrence Central, Lawrence North and North Central in Sectional 6. I thought either Warren Central or Cathedral would be there with the other in Sectional 7.

There are no real surprises in Sectional 5 (Avon, Ben Davis, Brownsburg, Pike) or Sectional 8 (Center Grove, Columbus North, Franklin Central, Jeffersonville).

All things considered, I think 6A looks about as balanced as it has been. Other than splitting the Fort Wayne teams and suburban north teams (which was unavoidable), the pieces fit together nicely.

Loaded sectional group in 4A

There were no real big surprises in Class 5A football, though Decatur Central (in Sectional 13 with Harrison, McCutcheon and Plainfield) has to be happy that Cathedral is gone and the door is open for a tournament run.

In 4A, there is a big change as Sectional 21 is now an eight-team field with Roncalli, Brebeuf Jesuit and Mooresville headlining the group. Brebeuf, the 3A state runner-up last year, is moving up a class, while Roncalli and Mooresville had previously been split (they met in the semistate in 2020). Others in Sectional 21 are Crispus Attucks, Washington, Shortridge, Lebanon and Northview.

In Sectional 22, New Palestine moves back to 4A from 5A and joins rival Mt. Vernon, the defending state champion, in Sectional 22. Others there are Beech Grove, Connersville, Greenfield-Central, Pendleton Heights, New Castle and Richmond.

In Class 3A, Bishop Chatard drops back down and joins Sectional 28 on the north side of the bracket with Guerin Catholic, Hamilton Heights, Maconaquah, Northwestern, Oak Hill, Peru and Tippecanoe Valley.

Speedway moves up to 3A and joins Sectional 29 on the south side of the bracket with Danville, Tri-West, Western Boone and others.

A few changes in 4A boys basketball

There were not a lot of changes in Class 4A boys basketball, but a couple of note:

>> Sectional 12 is now a five-team field (Avon, Brownsburg, Plainfield, Terre Haute North, Terre Haute South) with Mooresville moving to Sectional 13 with Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Center Grove, Greenwood and Martinsville.

>> Sectional 11 adds Franklin Central to a group that is otherwise the same with Ben Davis, Decatur Central, Perry Meridian, Pike, Roncalli and Southport.

>> Sectional 14 loses Bloomington South and Bloomington North to Sectional 13 and will now have Columbus East, Columbus North, East Central, Franklin, Shelbyville and Whiteland.

The local sectional groups like Sectional 8 (Carmel, Fishers, Hamilton Southeastern, Noblesville, Westfield, Zionsville), Sectional 9 (Anderson, Greenfield-Central, Mt. Vernon, Muncie Central, New Palestine, Pendleton Heights and Richmond) and Sectional 10 (Tech, Cathedral, Crispus Attucks, Lawrence Central, Lawrence North, North Central and Warren Central) are unchanged.

Minor changes elsewhere in boys basketball

>> Heritage Christian moves up to Class 3A and joins Sectional 27 with Brebeuf Jesuit, Guerin Catholic, Herron, Bishop Chatard and Shortridge.

>> Indian Creek, after playing in Sectional 28 with defending state champion Beech Grove, will move to Sectional 26 with Brown County, Edgewood, Northview, Owen Valley, South Vermillion and West Vigo.

>> Purdue Poly, which will be tournament eligible in 2023-24, joins Sectional 28 with Beech Grove, Christel House at Manual, Cardinal Ritter, Washington and Speedway.

>> Eastern Hancock, which made a semistate appearance last year in 2A, moves from Sectional 41 to 42 with Scecina, Irvington, Riverside and Triton Central.

Movement in girls basketball

South Bend Washington, last year’s girls basketball state champion in Class 3A, makes the jump to 4A and will join Sectional 3 with LaPorte, Michigan City, Mishawaka, Plymouth, South Bend Adams and South Bend Riley.

A lot of the changes noted above in boys basketball are the same for the girls.

Silver Creek, moving up to 4A due to the success factor, is grouped with Bedford North Lawrence, Floyd Central, Jeffersonville, Jennings County, New Albany and Seymour.

An oddity locally is that Cascade, a 2A team in boys basketball, is 3A in girls basketball and will be grouped in Sectional 25 with Crawfordsville, Danville, Lebanon, Monrovia, Tri-West and Western Boone.

Volleyball moves

Brebeuf Jesuit, the Class 3A state champion last year in volleyball, moves up to Class 4A due to the tournament success factor and will join Sectional 11 with Ben Davis, Decatur Central, Franklin Central, Perry Meridian, Pike, Roncalli and Southport.

Heritage Christian is among the schools moving from 2A to 3A. The Eagles will join Sectional 27 with Guerin Catholic, Hamilton Heights, Herron, Bishop Chatard and Shortridge.

Cathedral 3A in girls soccer

One of the major moves in girls soccer is Cathedral’s jump (by enrollment) to Class 3A and Guerin Catholic moving back down to 2A.

Cathedral will play in Sectional 11 with Lawrence Central, Lawrence North, Perry Meridian, Southport and Warren Central. Guerin Catholic joins Sectional 26 in 2A with Brebeuf Jesuit, Bishop Chatard, Washington, Lebanon and Speedway.

Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: IHSAA sectional realignment for 2022-23, 2023-24 unveiled