The Northview Knights and Terre Haute South Braves have played twice this season. Two games, two electric atmospheres and two incredible games with each team taking a win on their opponents home court. So what does Tuesday night's opening game of the Terre Haute North Sectional hold in store when the Braves and Knights square off with the season on the line?
Undoubtedly the atmosphere will be just as wild as the previous two games since one team will be going home for the rest of the season. But what of the game itself?
The Knights are on a three game winning streak heading into their regular season finale against a strong Fountain Central squad while the Braves are coming off a momentum building win versus Class 4A No. 8 Indianapolis North Central at home on Tuesday night. So both teams are on top of their games heading into the postseason.
South was the winner in the most recent contest between the two a 72-69 win on the Knight's home court that handed Northview their first of just two losses this season.
In that game, Braves' guard Armon Bassett had a breakout game with 25 points on nine-of-11 shooting, including three from long range. "Obviously we're going to have to contain Bassett," said Northview coach Mitch Lancaster. "He's getting better and he had 23 versus North Central the other night against some of the quickest guards I've seen. We'll have to contain him off the dribble."
The Braves also came out in the last meeting on fire from the field from inside and outside a factor that Lancaster believes his team will have to control on Tuesday. "I think that the big key will be to keep them from shooting lights out early. I think 3-point shooting will be a key for both teams. We'll have to make sure we get out on their shooters," said Lancaster.
South hit seven from long range in the win over the Knights back on Jan. 17, but Northview won't be able to ignore the Brave's size in the paint.
Six-foot-six junior Jeremy Lock and 6'6 Evan Harruff each pose matchup difficulties for Northview if they are given the space to operate underneath the hoop. The pair combined for 32 points and 10 rebounds in the championship game of the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic game that the Knights won 73-66 back on Dec. 30.
So the key could be the defensive balance the Knights pose between guarding the perimeter and interior.
The Knights haven't had problems scoring this season as their 77.3 points a game average will attest to so defense could certainly win this game, a fact that Lancaster commented that his team has been working on consistently. "We concentrate on (defense) all the time in practice, but we've been working on some new things and going back to some of the old things. Part of the problems are matchup issues, but we've been working hard."
On offense the Knights have one of the deadliest 3-pointer shooters in the state in Logan Whitman who tops the team with a 22.3 points per game average and an eye-popping 84 3-pointers.
He's joined by forward Zach Keyes who scores at a 20.9 ppg. clip and adds 5.1 rebounds a game. Junior guard Josh Timm pours in another 14.1 points a game and is second in 3-pointers made. He also led the Western Indiana Conference in free-throw shooting at 88.2 percent (45-of-51) with Whitman next at 80.3 percent (49-of-61.
Guard Amos Wegner runs the point for the Knights and was the WIC leader in assists with 5.9 per game.
Senior Travis Hughes is depended on for defensive stopper status and mans the other guard spot for the Knights. He generally isn't counted on for scoring though he has the ability when needed. Hughes hit for 13 in the last game between these two teams and could be important on the offensive end in this one.
Injuries have recently been draining for the Knights as both Timm and Wegner have been slowed with wrist injuries, however, Lancaster doesn't believe that will be a problem on Tuesday. "I think a week off has been good, Amos and Josh have sprained wrists but they're getting better. They'll certainly play on Tuesday."
Sectional play will open on Tuesday night with the Braves and Knights facing off at Terre Haute North High School at 6 p.m. followed by Mooresville and Martinsville. Friday's 6 p.m. game will feature the winner of the two Tuesday games with Plainfield and the hosts playing in the second game.