Times Sports Editor
The 101st state boy's basketball tournament begins this week as 401 teams were drawn and placed in brackets on Feb. 19.
The Northview Knights have the benefit of hosting their own sectional this season as Plainfield, Mooresville, Terre Haute North, Terre Haute South and defending champion Martinsville all visit in search of the 2011 sectional championship.
The opening day of play is Tuesday night as Mooresville (11-9) and Terre Haute North (15-7) tip-off at 6 p.m. followed by the Knights (12-10) facing Martinsville (13-7). On Friday night, Terre Haute South (12-9) will see the winner between the Pioneers and Patriots at 6 p.m. and Plainfield takes on the winner of the Knights and Artesians in the second game. The championship game is at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Patriots are coming off their first win over Lawrence North since the 2001 season, which helps them gain some momentum after a disappointing second half of the season. After starting the season 12-1 and winning the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic, the Patriots struggled over a rugged conference slate, dropping six of their final nine games. However, North owns a 5-0 mark against sectional opponents this season and their conference schedule should have them prepared for the postseason.
The Artesians have gone 2-0 against sectional foes, beating Plainfield and Mooresville in tight games. A year after a surprising sectional title after entering the sectional with a 4-16 mark, the Artesians are much more comfortable in their roles and bring a balanced team to the contest versus Northview.
Four players average double-figures in scoring for Martinsville led by junior Jason Ray, a 6'8 forward, who checks in at 12 ppg. Next in line is sophomore Greg Spina, a 6'2 guard who averages 10.5 ppg. Senior Derek Krebs is at 10.2 ppg. and Junior forward Logan Barker, a 6'4 forward scores at a 10.1 ppg. clip. The Artesians also rebound by committee with Ray and Barker averaging more than five rebounds per game and Krebs pulling down four per contest. Junior guard Seth Dow leads the team with 41 3-pointers this season.
The Knights are led by senior Trent Lancaster's 18 ppg. to go with four boards and just under three assists per game. Classmate Caleb Mershon is second in scoring at 11 ppg. and he leads the team in 3-point shooting at close to 40 percent. He has lit it up over the final three regular season games, hitting a combined 10-of-18 from 3-point lane. Point guard Dillon Reynolds has played especially well of late with a 21-point game against Plainfield and 10 points vs. Danville in the regular season finale. Jacob Musgrave provides size in the post and will be important on both ends of the court against the bigger Artesians. He has been in double-figures in two of the last three games.
Northview's bench has been important as the team won five-of-six to end the regular season.
Damon Hyatt and part-time starter Hunter Robertson, don't provide a lot of points offensively, but their grit and hustle are invaluable on the defensive side. Jacob Ninesling, Chance Talbot and Jordan Van Horn provide some depth in the frontcourt for the Knights as well.
Terre Haute South has dropped its final two games to end the regular season and has gone 2-2 against sectional teams, defeating Northview and Mooresville. The Pioneers have posted a 1-4 mark in the sectional and the Quakers have struggled to a 0-3 mark.
Around the state, the top-ranked teams in the latest Associated Press poll, Class A No. 1 Kouts drew a bye and will meet the LaCrosse-Bowman Academy winner in Sectional 49 at Bowman Academy, the defending state champion. In 2A, No. 1 Forest Park also drew a bye and will face the Perry Central-Tell City winner in Sectional 48 at Evansville Mater Dei. In 3A, top-ranked and defending state champion Washington drew a bye into the Sectional 31 semifinals at Southridge where they will take on the Vincennes Lincoln-Heritage Hills victor. And in 4A, Munster, ranked No. 1 by both the AP and the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association takes on host Gary West Side in Sectional 1.
Among the other defending state champions, North Central (Indianapolis) drew host Indianapolis Broad Ripple in Class 4A, Sectional 10. Last year's Class 2A state champion, Wheeler will play host to Hanover Central in the opening game of Sectional 33.
One member school, Baptist Academy, will be making its initial appearance in the boys basketball state tournament. The Chargers will compete in Class A, Sectional 58 at Edinburgh.
Two other schools are returning to the state tournament festivities after many years. Indianapolis Marshall, playing in Class 2A, Sectional 43 at Triton Central, last entered a team in 1986. Indianapolis Shortridge, assigned to Class A, Sectional 59 at Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, last appeared in the 1981 tournament.
Tecumseh, in Class A, leads the state with 12 consecutive sectional championships. Lafayette Central Catholic, also in Class A, has won nine straight and Washington, in Class 3A, has won six in a row.
Sectionals by the numbers
While Tecumseh currently has the longest active sectional championship streak at 12, Lafayette Jefferson holds the record as the Bronchos won a remarkable 29 straight sectional titles from 1944-72.
Kokomo holds the mark for the most all-time sectional titles with 70 followed closely by Lafayette Jefferson and Vincennes Lincoln with 68. Marion is in fifth with 66 all-time titles.
With 401 teams entered in the tourney, there are 99 schools in Class 4A, 98 in Class 3A, 102 in 2A and 102 in Class A. There will be a total of 397 games in 27 days.