The Northview Knights, unbeaten at 9-0 and defending Wabash Valley Classic champions, versus the host Terre Haute South Braves, 7-2 and winners of seven straight.
As I write this it's only 9:15 a.m. and I'm already getting excited and judging from the calls from newspapers outside the area, everyone else is as well.
Terre Haute South's gym has been an exceptional play to see a large quantity of excellent prep action this holiday season and Monday's title game should make an excellent capper to the tournament. Both North and South have brought huge crowds and the Knights have a contingent of incredible fans who follow them everywhere. Each side should pack the house tonight to see two excellent ball clubs fight to keep their winning streaks alive.
The Braves feature a very sizable, athletic lineup that likes to pound the ball inside on their opponents. So far, no one in the tournament has been able to stop them as South has shot no worse then 51 percent in any of their three games in the Classic.
They opened with an 81-43 win over Greencastle led by 6'6 senior Evan Harruff's 12 points and six boards. Armon Bassett added 14 points and 6'2 senior Chaun Christie popped in 11 as the Braves outrebounded the Tiger Cubs 40-24.
Up next was another Putnam County foe in Cloverdale who hung tough for awhile with their sizable duo of Donnie Cline and Mitch Oetken. The Clovers however, would eventually fall 82-49 as the Braves scored on all but one possession in the fourth quarter. Four Braves hit double figures in that one led by 6'6 junior Jeremy Lock's 18.
South advanced to the title game with a win over their most athletic opponent of the tournament, Vincennes, 65-50, behind 15 from Bassett and 16 from 6'5 junior Chad Talpas.
For those of you counting, that's three regulars over 6'5 with another pair on the bench over 6'4.
Size, size and more size will be thrown at the Knights who specialize in transition, speed and stamina.
Northview will have to really put perimeter ball pressure on the Braves to keep them from banging away inside all night. The Knights' strong suit is not rebounding but scoring in spurts spurred by their defense.
Zach Keyes has averaged an amazing 30 points a game in the tournament, mostly on a variety of spin moves, head fakes and hustle baskets keyed by defensive steals. Logan Whitman has rained down 13 3-pointers in the first three games of the tournament on his way to 20 per game while Josh Timm has added another 11.
So far in the tournament the Knights have been a bit sluggish at times in the first half, but have exploded in the third quarter each game. They've averaged 21.3 points in the third period and forced over seven turnovers in that quarter while outscoring their opponents by more than 11 points coming out of the locker room.
The Knights won't be able to bang inside with the Braves and will have to resist the temptation to do so for risk of getting Keyes or Craig Greenwood in foul trouble early. The guards will need to be on their toes and force the Braves to play to the Knights' tempo.
If Northview can get South into a running game they'll take this battle. No opponent this year has had the endurance to play 32 full minutes with the Knights when they play their style. South is hoping they won't need to be the first.
Don't miss this battle of neighboring hoops powers. The South gym will be rocking tonight beginning with an 8 p.m. tip-off.