By Gregg A. Sims
Washington Times Herald
WASHINGTON — Anticipation is not the word to describe girls basketball Class 3A and A sectionals once the tournament gets underway at Jasper and Barr-Reeve next week.
Washington (14-5) plays Jasper (11-9) in the second game in the opening night next Tuesday. Barr-Reeve (14-4) and North Daviess (15-4) meet in the second game on the same night at Barr-Reeve.
At Jasper, Heritage Hills (10-9) and Mitchell (12-5) open the Class 3A tournament with the Hatchets and Wildcats closing the opening round.
Pike Central (4-16) awaits the game one winner to open Friday’s second round, while Vincennes Lincoln (6-13) meets either Washington or Jasper in the evening’s second game.
Shoals (4-14) and Loogootee (2-16) meet in the Tuesday Class A opener at Barr-Reeve with the Vikings and Cougars playing the second game.
Vincennes Rivet (16-4) awaits to meet the first-game winner to open Friday’s round, with the Vikings or Cougars then set to play Washington Catholic (2-18) in the second game.
Friday winners at both sites then meet Saturday for the respective class championships on Saturday.
Washington coach Gretchen Miles was not having any discussion of the meeting with the Wildcats being a sectional championship game. Washington, Jasper, who has won the last three Class 3A titles, and Mitchell would appear to be entering the sectional as the likely best of the field.
Jasper defeated Washington, 45-44, at Hatchet House, Dec. 11. The Hatchets defeated Mitchell, 65-49, one week ago at the Hatchet House.
Miles did note that if there was a game her team would like to have back, it was the game with the Wildcats. At the same time, she believes the tournament is available to anyone in the field.
“If you compare the ballclubs, I think all of the games will be very competitive,” Miles said. “Jasper is the defending champion, and they would still be the favorite with wins in the last three years. I think you have to look at the tournament for the team that plays the best that particular night.”
Miles does like playing in the opening round as opposed to waiting for the second.
“We’re in a time right now where the kids are accustomed to playing Tuesday, Thursday and some Saturdays,” Mile said. “The Tuesday game fits right into the schedule that we’re been laying. The kids are used to play, play, play. It’s the time when the kids are ready to play instead of having to wait several days for the next game. It should be a great game on the opening night.”
Barr-Reeve coach Mark Holt admits a draw is a draw, and all involved must take what is given and work with the plan.
A bye might have beneficial to the Vikings this year with Tiara Kenney suffering an ankle injury in last Thursday’s 51-43 win against North Knox.
“She will definitely not this week, and she’s maybe at this point for the week,” Holt said. “Having a bye might have been a good thing for us this year because of the injury situation.”
North Daviess defeated the Vikings, 39-29, Dec. 6, at Barr-Reeve. The Vikings were not full strength in that game, and may be in the same boat as the sectional begins this time around.
“You would certainly have to say that Vincennes Rivet got a very good draw, and both of us (Barr-Reeve and North Daviess) have a long way to go,” Holt said. “We will have to prepare for North Daviess to start, and then make some decisions from there.”
North Daviess coach Ron Knepp is happy with the draw. He likes playing on Tuesday and likes having to face the better teams in the sectional from the first game.
“One of my biggest concerns was having us win several games in January and then being up for the first game of the tournament,” Knepp said. “Playing Barr-Reeve, we now have no concerns about that. I know our kids will come in prepared and ready to play.”
Much like Miles, Knepp also believes playing Tuesday will help keep his team in the flow of a regular season setting.
“If we had drawn the bye, we would have to have waited for a week before we played,” Knepp said. “We want to try and keep everything as normal as possible, and playing on Tuesday will help do that. We also play the second game each night, which will what we are accustomed to as well. I’m really happy about the way the draw came out.”
With three teams ranked in the top of the AP polls (Rivet, Barr-Reeve and North Daviess) the sectional will again be one of the toughest in Indiana.
“We have a lot of very good teams in the sectional,” Knepp said. “It’s one of the toughest in the state, but we knew we would have to beat some good teams to get there.”