Almost 53 weeks to the day, the Northview Knights will get another crack at Martinsville. It was Friday, March 1, 2002 that the Artesians denied the Knights a chance for a sectional championship by defeating Northview 73-68 at Martinsville.
The Artesians went on to defeat Bloomington North in their regional opener before losing to Castle in the regional championship game.
Several players graduated from that Martinsville squad but the Artesians still return a starting lineup that features five seniors, including leading scorer Dustin Huff. "I would say that (Huff) is probably one of the top players in the state," commented Northview coach Mitch Lancaster Thursday evening. "About half of their offense runs through him."
That particular brand of offense is something that has befuddled teams all year long.
The Artesians run a "Princeton" style offense that is based largely on an intricate set of screens and cuts and emphasizes quality possessions and playing under control.
"They are a much different team than last year," said Lancaster. "They're much smaller and they play at a much slower pace. They run the Princeton offense which really presents a challenge for us. Playing them is a whole new game."
Shutting down Martinsville typically starts with controlling Huff who scores around 20 points per contest or about 33 percent of his team's points. The Artesians deliberate offense averages just under 60 points a game while their defense allows 52 a game.
Huff is coming off a 24 point performance versus Mooresville in the sectional opener. He dropped in five of Martinsville's seven 3-pointers in the game. "Defending them will be a real mental challenge for us," said Lancaster. "If you look at how difficult their schedule is, they've disrupted teams all year long except for Pike. We'll have to be really patient and not get down on ourselves or frustrated."
That schedule that Lancaster referred to is currently listed as the 72nd toughest in the state according to the Sagarin ratings that look at opponents' record and their opponents' record to determine the quality of a team's schedule.
The Artesians have faced four of the top-25 teams in the state according to the Sagarin ratings and have been defeated in all four. On Friday night the Knights (No. 25) will be the fifth top-25 opponent to take the court versus the Artesians.
Defending Martinsville typically revolves around stopping the 6'1 Huff, 5'11 guard Casey Schwab and 6'0 Justin Guy.
The three combine for nearly all of their team's offense so how the Knights match up with those three will go a long way in determining the game's outcome.
The job of defending Huff will go to Northview's Travis Hughes who last week had the task of shutting down 6'6 Jeremy Lock of Terre Haute South.
Lock had just four points in the Knight's win, but guarding Huff presents a whole different challenge. "Their offense is based on a lot of backdoor cuts and screens which will present a challenge on how we get out on their shooters," noted Lancaster.
The Knights will have to remain under control on the defensive end on Friday night to defeat the Artesians. Martinsville likes to determine the pace of play and keep it deliberate. The Knights offense is much the polar opposite.
Northview averages over 77 points a game and their strength lies in an up-and-down the court, frenetic pace of play that typically wears on their opponents.
How the Knights deal with Martinsville's Princeton offense will determine whether Northview moves on. Patience will be the key for Northview's guards who will get a work out just fighting their way through screens all night. They'll have to dedicate themselves to defending on Friday or the Artesians could pick them apart.
Tipoff at Terre Haute North High School will be at 6 p.m. Following Northvew and Martinsville will be the semifinal game between Plainfield and the host Patriots.