IHSAA girls basketball Class 2A sectional preview: Schedule, players to watch, predictions

It is sectional season for Indiana high school girls basketball. Let’s take a closer look at the Class 2A field with storylines, the local matchups, players to watch and predictions:

Sectional draw takeaways:10 things that stood out to our Insider

Sectional previews: 4A | 3A | A

Girls sectionals:Pairings, schedule for 2022-23 tournament

Class 2A

No. 1 team: Lafayette Central Catholic (17-6). No stats available for the Knights (keep an eye no Carley Barrett), but they've beaten Cathedral and Hamilton Heights, and played Warren Central and Evansville Memorial. The defending state runner-up are up from Class A, and rank 25th in the state Sagarin Ratings. LCC opens against the winner of Seeger (19-3) and Delphi Community (10-13).

Sectional 38 intrigue I: This sectional is very deep. Seeger is a 19-win team led by three seniors and a sophomore (Aubry Cole averages a team-best 19 ppg; Rylea Wetz is averaging nearly a double-double with 10 ppg and 9 rpg).

Clinton Prairie (16-7) is two-time sectional champion, but will likely have to contend with Carroll (Flora) (20-3) in the semifinals. Alli Harness (24 ppg, 5 apg, 4 spg) and Madison Wagner (16 ppg, 8 rpg, 4 apg, 3 spg) lead the Cougars, who lost to CP in overtime on Jan. 13. The Gophers of Clinton Prairie are powered by a trio of seniors (Sydney Swan, Kaitlyn Beck and Claire Ecenbarger) and a sophomore (Abbey Swan).

Rangers eye a repeat: Led by senior forward Amber Tretter, defending 2A champion Forest Park (19-3) blasted through its schedule with its two of its three losses coming to 3A teams and the third coming to a team from Kentucky. No stats available, but after watching Tretter at semistate and state last year --- they figure to be an extremely difficult out.

Potentially tricky semifinal for Central Noble: Assuming they can handle Prairie Heights (1-21), the Class 2A No. 1 Cougars (21-2) will face Eastside (15-8), the only other team in the sectional with a winning record. The teams played twice over a seven-day stretch earlier this month. Central Noble won both games, but the second meeting was decided by just seven points. Worth monitoring, if nothing else. Couple names to know from Central Noble: Seniors Madi Vice and Meghan Keibel, both of whom are putting up terrific numbers.

Sectional 40 at Alexandria Monroe

The skinny: The draw did this group bad. Wapahani (19-4) and Lapel (16-7) are matched in the play-in game, with the winner advancing to face Alexandria (17-5). The other side pairs Winchester (16-6) and Monroe Central (12-9), which it has beaten by 38 and 14 this season, and winless Burris vs. three-win Wes-Del.

Team to beat: Lapel (16-7). It's tough to pick out a top dog here, but we'll go with the Bulldogs, who are rated slightly higher in the Sagarin with a top-70 strength of schedule. Though one of their losses was to Winchester, they beat Alexandria in November and held off first-round foe Wapahani in overtime. They have also tested themselves against Heritage Christian, Greenfield-Central, Eastern Hancock, Hamilton Heights and Pendleton Heights (1-1 vs. the Arabians). Freshman Laniah Willis has been excellent for the Bulldogs, clocking a double-double per game with 16 points and 13 rebounds. She's received steady scoring support from Maddy Poynter (12.3 ppg), Deannaya Haseman (9.4 ppg) and Jaylee Hubble (6.6 ppg). Kerith Renihan leads Lapel with 4.2 assists per game.

Next best: Winchester (16-6). The Golden Falcons beat Lapel in the season opener, and have since played Jay County from 3A and 4A's Lawrence North and South Bend Washington. The bracket sets up nicely for a run to the finals, with those aforementioned wins over Monroe Central (it hasn't played Wes-Del or Burris).

Prediction: Lapel over Winchester. First sectional championship since 2007 for Lapel and third overall (2000, 2001).

Sectional 42 at Triton Central

The skinny: Well we waste no time here. The two best teams in the sectional, Eastern Hancock (19-3) vs. Triton Central (18-4), play Tuesday night. [Insert scalding take about the silliness of an unseeded state tournament.] The winner should have a clear path to regionals with Scecina, Riverside and Irvington Prep holding a combined record of 14-25 (Scecina has 11 wins).

Team to beat: Eastern Hancock (19-3). Last year's triple-overtime win in the sectional opener ended the Royals' three-game losing streak vs. Triton Central in sectionals (fun fact: this is the seventh straight year they've met in sectionals). Eastern Hancock beat the Tigers, 56-34, on Nov. 12 amidst a 9-1 start, and boasts a powerful two-headed scoring attack with Grace Stapleton (16 ppg, 5 apg, 4 spg) and Sammie Bolding (12 ppg, 3 spg). The Royals, who shoot 41% as a team, average nearly 28 rebounds per game with five players averaging four-plus boards per game.

Next best/Sleeper: Triton Central (18-4). It starts with senior Lizzie Graham (13 ppg), who set the all-time record for 3-pointers made last week. She's shooting 43% from the field and a very impressive 44% from 3 (52-for-119). Try to take her away, and you have to contend with Mary Rose Felling, Hallie Schweitzer and Brooklyn Bailey, all of whom are scoring 10-plus points per game (Bailey leads the team with 8 rpg; Schweitzer is good for 5 apg). Triton Central started the season 2-3. Its only loss since came Jan. 12 at Kokomo (49-48 on a last-second shot).

Local notes: Scecina (11-11) has lost two straight coming in, but watch out for senior Abby Moore. She's having a career year at 17 points, 3 assists and 3 steals per game. ... Riverside (2-15) is headlined by a couple of seniors (Janiaya Thomas and Stacey Karrick) and a freshman (Aunna Smith). Its last win came Dec. 7 vs. Victory College Prep. ... Irvington (1-9) did not have a game from Nov. 9 through Jan. 3, according to John Harrell.

Prediction: Triton Central over Scecina.

Sectional 43 at University

The skinny: It would be very surprising if University failed to advance from this sectional.

Team to beat: University (18-4). The two-time regional champion Trailblazers built a schedule worthy of a title contender, playing Danville, Cathedral, Lawrence Central, Roncalli, Harrison, Lapel, Heritage Christian and Tipton. They also have a roster built for a deep postseason run in terms of both experience and talent. Payton Seay (20 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3 spg) and Kelsey DuBois (15 ppg, 11 rpg, 3 bpg) will likely grab your attention immediately, but fellow senior Jordan Patterson (8 ppg) has established herself as a very capable scoring option, as has sophomore Taylor Seay (7.5 ppg). University shoots 42% from the field and 71% from the line as a team. Defensively, it generates 12 steals per game.

Local notes: Hopefully, Friday's semifinal will provide some fireworks with University playing Sheridan (13-8), which is led by sophomore Kenzie Garner (19 ppg, 10 rpg, 4 spg). The multi-sport athlete dropped 29 in a three-point win over Clinton Central and came close to triple-doubles against Covenant Christian, Delphi and Frankfort. ... Speaking of Covenant Christian (7-16), it was coming off back-to-back wins prior to dropping a 44-16 decision vs. Bethesda Christian in the regular-season finale. ... Park Tudor (14-7) senior Gretchen Farley seamlessly transitioning from state cross country events to state soccer tournament games remains one of my favorite facts from the fall, and she's an excellent basketball player, too, averaging around 17 ppg. PT has won six of its past eight, with those losses coming in overtime to Bethesda Christian and last Friday vs. Heritage Christian.

Prediction: University over Park Tudor. The bigger question for University: Is this the year the Trailblazers get over the hump and punch their ticket to Gainbridge?

Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana high school girls basketball: Class 2A sectional preview 2023