'Second' season begins at sectional

Todd Lancaster, Washington Times-Herald, Ind.
·14 min read

Mar. 1—If it's sectional time in Daviess County, then there is a chance that at least one of the area's sectionals will be sending a team to Bankers Life Fieldhouse over the next few weeks.

This year Sectional 63 at North Daviess will feature three of the four top teams in Class A, while Sectional 31 in the historic Hatchet House will again have one of the of the best atmospheres as WHS will host sectional, regional and semi-state.

B-R v. Washington Catholic

On Tuesday, Washington Catholic and Barr-Reeve play in the second game.

The Barr-Reeve Vikings come in ranked No. 1 in Class A with one of the most impressive schedule in the state, regardless of class. The Vikings took on Bloomington South, North Harrison, Carmel, FW Blackhawk, Castle, Heritage Hills and Jasper, as well as Class A powers North Daviess, Loogootee and Orleans. The Vikings have the distinction of playing the No. 1 team in each of the three other classes (at the time of playing them), beating Heritage Hills (3A) and going to OT with Carmel (4A) and Blackhawk (2A) before giving them their only two losses of the year.

Barr-Reeve's (22-2) toughest games have primarily come from sectional opponents. No. 4 North Daviess fell 39-38, while No. 2 Loogootee lost 67-64. Orleans also played B-R tough in its meeting, before losing, 53-42.

B-R is led by Curt Hopf, a 6-8 Bellarmine signee and potential Indiana All-Star. He is averaging 20.8 points and nine boards. He runs the floor well and is one of the state's best passing big men. Brycen Gran is now the state's career all-time assist leader with 8.1 a game this year. He also averages 7.9 ppg and is a solid rebounder. He will be attending Grace College. Junior Hagen Knepp, 6-3, is getting 11.5 a game and just under five rpg. As a team, B-R is shooting 44 percent from behind the arc, with Tommy Kidwell, Devin Graber, Jamison Miller and Kayden Graber as all legitimate 3-point threats in in any situation. Senior Tyson Knepp, has also done a nice job as a lock-down defender for the Vikings.

"I think the thing that is probably the most telling about our sectional is, if you look at the records outside the sectional, I think we're like the second toughest in the state. As far as what teams have done, number of wins and quality wins, I think only one 4A sectional around Indy was better. This sectional just has a lot of really good teams, a lot of really good players and exceptional coaches," said B-R coach Josh Thompson, who is 71-6 at B-R in three years.

"We aren't taking anything for granted. There are always different things that could happen, COVID, the injuries that could happen. Probably the thing that I'm most happy about right now is that we're finally starting to get everybody healthy. Hagen Knepp is about 90-95% so you know having him healthy going into the tournament I think is really good for us."

B-R's opponent, Washington Catholic, comes in at 0-17 and the team is currently giving up 72 points a game and scoring roughly 22. The Cardinals have no seniors and just a pair of juniors on their young team. WC's best effort was a 52-40 loss to Medora, which was also their highest offensive output. The finished out the year with losses to Dugger and Rivet.

"We knew going in that we've been a young basketball team all year long. We're playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores that probably should be playing JV basketball, but you know we've been thrown to the wolves and we're battling, and we're going to approach it like any other game. We're going to go out and compete and look to improve like we've been trying to do all year long," said WC coach John Howell.

The Cardinals primary weapons included Logan Craney as a 3-point shooter, while Zach and Justin Sipes, Will Bassler and Mark Kanipia, all underclassmen, get the majority of the minutes for WC.

"This is experience for us. We're building for the future here, and building for next year. Hopefully, next year will be a lot better. We hope to shoot the ball better, compete a lot better and have some chance to win a lot more games," added Howell.

North Daviess (19-3)

The winner of the B-R/WC game will get No. 4 North Daviess in the bye-game on Friday. The Cougars have had an outstanding season at 19-3.

Although ND lost four of five starters from last year's team, the sophomore led squad has had an impressive winter. Their one-point loss to Barr-Reeve was the Vikings tightest win of the year. They also had an overtime loss to Loogootee and a one-point loss to Orleans. However, ND has had a solid end of the year including a win over 2A Linton and 3A Washington.

Veteran coach Brent Dalrymple is 289-209 in his 21 years as the Cougar mentor. He has been the coach of all five Cougar sectional titles and both regional crowns.

North Daviess is led by sophomore guard Jaylen Mullen. Mullen is a "do everything" guard. He is the primary ball handler and distributor, but can also score going to the rim or from behind the arc. He is an excellent pressure free-throw shooter and started the entire season as a freshman in 2020.

Lance and Logan Wilson are sophomore 6-3 twins that handle the rebounding, as well as 3-point shooting. Seniors Daryn Lengacher and Ike Wolford have been paramount to ND's success, as senior Alex Steffey has come of the bench to provide size and a physical presence. Markus Britton is also a sniper, while Bryce Collins a capable shooter.

Mullen is getting 14 points a game and 4.8 assists, Wolford is getting 12 ppg, while both Wilsons and Lengacher are getting more than 7 ppg. Wolford is leading with six boards a game. Mullen is leading the team with 33 treys and a 47% average, while Wolford is shooting 43%. As a team, they are shooting 42%.

"You know we're excited to be hosting and, yeah, it's back to just go out and play basketball and the nerves and anticipation is all there. I think you will see more of the same from us. We are not all sudden going to change anything. I mean we've been playing how we need to play all year to have a chance to win the sectional," said ND coach Brent Dalrymple.

"Our sophomores have been great and seniors have been as well. Our seniors have been tremendous leaders all year and, you know, we're looking. We lean on Ike and Daryn, but but Bryce and Alex have certainly done their part in the locker room, in practice and in their in their minutes as well."

The Cougars ended the year on a high note with wins over ranked Linton and Sullivan, beating 3A on a last second shot from Daryn Lengacher. They are the Sectional host.

Orleans v. Shoals

It the first game on Tuesday, No. 10 Orleans will take on Shoals. Orleans comes in 15-4 under long-time coach Tom Bradley (339-189). This game will be a rematch of their Feb. 19 meeting, where they defeated Shoals 56-48 in overtime.

Orleans has four overtime losses, losing close games to 2A Paoli and 3A Edgewood, along with an 11-point loss to Barr-Reeve on Jan. 5 and Loogootee, 78-47. They do have a one-point win over No. 4 North Daviess and 3A Salem.

Orleans is led by Devyn Martin, a 5-8 senior guard, getting 14.1 ppg and 3.2 steals. Griffin Deckard is adding 10.1, while freshman Ian Hall adds 8.1 and 3.2 rebounds. As a team, Orleans is giving up 51 ppg and giving up 46.

Shoals comes in at 11-10 for coach Bryson Able. Able has won at least 11 games in each of his last four season, including 17 three years ago.

The Rox are led by one of the sectional's best individual players Reece Sherrill, while Levi Pendley and Adam Sukup, both whom are solid players.

The Rox split their final two games of the year, beating Mitchell and losing to West Washington, 45-40.

Loogootee (19-3)

The Friday game will feature the winner of Orleans and Shoals and the No. 2 Loogootee Lions. Under coach Ryan Haywood, the Lions are 37-9, now in his second year as the "Lion tamer."

Loogootee comes in at 19-3, with only a close loss to B-R, an overtime loss to 3A Princeton (58-55) and another to 2A power Linton. They do also have wins over sectional opponent, Orleans, North Daviess and Shoals, with the win over the Cougars being 42-40 in OT. They have played well and won against 3A Brownstown Central and 3A Washington, along with beating Bloomfield and South Knox.

Loogootee can come at you from any direction. They are led by 6-6 Silas Bauer, an extremely athletic big man getting 15 points and seven boards a game. 6-4 sophomore wing Peyton Bledsoe is adding 16.7 points and just under five boards a game. He is also a 43% 3-point shooter. Jordan Wildman is a senior point guard adding 14 ppg and three assists, while twin brother Jalen, is adding about five ppg. Luke Nonte is a junior chipping in six points a game, with seniors Bryant Eckerle and Isaac Eagle also contributing off the bench.

"You can't take anybody lightly. If you try to cruise one night to prepare for the next day, you're going home for good. So, every night's the sectional championship, Friday night's the same as Saturday, and that's the way you got to treat it," said Haywood.

"We are who we are and you know, I like where we're at right now the way that we're playing. I think our guys are really hungry we have several seniors that that would love to leave here with a sectional championship under their belt so we've played really well for a while now, and, you know, we're just trying to maintain it and and carry it into the sectional. We have had a lot of guys step up. You know everybody's playing pretty well, especially on the defensive end right now. I didn't like the way we started the season. I didn't think we were very good early in the year and then I thought you know, from the second half of the Barr-Reeve game on, we've been really good. So, is it good enough to win the sectional? I don't know. It's good enough to win most sectionals? I just don't know if it's good enough to win this sectional, but we think we have a real chance."

LHS ended the year on a 10-game winning streak, finishing with a win over North Knox.

3A Sectional 31- Washington

The Hatchet House returns as a sectional host, but the home-standing Hatchets will have a tough road back to their second championship in consecutive years. WHS (8-11) drew Sullivan in the first game, and if they advance past the Arrows, they would then be targeting Princeton in the semi-final game. The Washington-Sullivan match-up is the lone game on Tuesday.

The Hatchets are the defending sectional champions, however they are playing without Grant Niehaus who was the leading scorer and the area's player of the year from last season and now is playing at Taylor College.

Most of the scoring from this year belongs to Division I recruit Trey Reed, who will be playing baseball at ISU next fall. He is joined by seniors Zach and Owen Gray along with, Alex Boyd as the final senior.

The junior class has seen a lot of action as well, Joah Horrall and Logan Riester have logged significant minutes. Coach Gene Miiller has also picked up a considerable amount of input from Austin Brower and Brycen Niedigh at different points in the season.

Miller said Reed is leading with 18.5 points, while Horrall is getting nine and Logan Riester is adding eight. Zach and Owen Gray are combining for 10 points (6 and 4, respectively).

WHS dropped six of its first seven games, but those included losses to A No. 1 Barr-Reeve, A No. 2 Loogootee, a very good Bosse team and an OT loss to Tell City. They also had a mid-season stretch winning four of five, including victories over Gibson Southern and Jasper. They played well in a late season loss to South Knox and picked up a win over Tecumseh.

"We know everyone will have to play their best and we will have to take care of the basketball" said Hall of Fame coach Gene Miller, who now has nearly 725 wins in his career.

WHS ended the season on three-straight wins, while Sullivan ended with a loss to North Daviess on a last second shot.

Sullivan has been a power in western Indiana basketball for most of the season at 18-3 under coach Jeff Moore, who is beginning to close in on his 500th win. They have four players either in or very close to double figures. They are led by 5-10 guard Randy Kelley who is getting 17.6 points a game, along with 5.5 assists and five rebounds a game. Braden Flanagan is also a senior guard getting 15.5 points, while 6-5 Jackson Hill is getting 15.8 with just under nine boards. Rocco Roshel is a 3-point shooter, coming in just under 10 ppg, as a 5-10 junior guard.

"Sullivan and Princeton have to be considered the favorites, just based on records alone," said Miiller. "Sullivan has two really good guards. With two good guards you will always be competitive and Kelley is one of the best around. We have to keep him away from the basket. We tried that last year and he still had 20 at the sectional against us. They also had two players transfer in from Illinois because they weren't allowed to play basketball due to COVID."

Sullivan's lone losses come from 4A Bloomington South and 18-win Greencastle and Class A No. 4 North Daviess. The have defeated South Knox, Bloomfield and Terre Haute North, and had close wins over West Vigo and Northview.

Princeton (12-4)

Princeton will play the winner of the Washington-Sullivan game on Friday in one of the semi-final games. The Tigers had four games canceled this year, including their game with Washington. Their losses have been to good teams, including Bosse, North, Heritage Hills and Owen Valley. They do have OT wins over Loogootee, South Spencer and North Posey, along with Mount Vernon and Boonville, as well as winning five straight in February.

"They are playing really well right now. They have three players who are scoring in double figures. They really have a nice mix and their role players do a nice job of understanding what to do," added Miiller.

Princeton's three top players include, Rhett Thompson, Dominic Hardiman and senior Jurrien Ballard.

The Tigers come in to sectional on a six win streak.

Lincoln v. Pike Central

In the other semi-final game, Vincennes Lincoln (2-15) will face Pike Central (3-16). The Alices' lone wins came against Class A Borden in December for second year coach Jordan Myers, and Pike Central at the end of the year, Lincoln did have two-point loss to Central and a one-point loss to Dubois early in the year. Lincoln is scoring 48 points and giving up just under 60.

Hunter Elliott is in his fourth year as head coach of the Chargers. Pike did have an overtime win over Dubois, but lost an overtime contest with Springs Valley. The other victory came over White River Valley. The did play well against the Hatchets losing 47-40, while falling to Princeton, 53-42. They did not play Sullivan. Sean Hanselman leads PC with 10.1 points a game, while freshman Jullian Gish is adding 10.0 points and three rebounds. Kendric Sorgis is a 6-4 guard getting just under eight. As a team, Pike is scoring 44 points and giving up 58.

The two teams also matched up on Thursday, with Lincoln winning, 61-49. Pike ended the year with a win over Tecumseh.

The winner will move on to Saturday's championship game.