Times Sports Editor
The annual Greene County Tourney got underway Wednesday evening with a pair of games as Linton-Stockton took on winless Union (Dugger) preceding a match-up between Shakamak and North Central (Farmersburg). The Clay City Eels open play in tonight's 6 p.m. contest against defending champion Eastern (Greene) before the host Wolverines face newcomer Bloomfield, who joins the tourney field for the first time.
Crowds are expected to be robust, especially this evening, for a format that partially resembles the old sectional tournament field.
The Thunderbirds come in with an 8-1 overall mark and have seemingly reloaded following the graduation of four starters from a squad that reached the regional championship game and finished with a 24-2 overall record. Eastern powered through the Greene County field last season with a 78-63 win over Linton, a 90-28 thrashing of North Central and a 72-35 title game win over Shakamak.
This year, Eastern brings the No. 8 ranking in Class 2A into tourney play with the Miners sitting one spot ahead of them with a No. 7 ranking.
Clay City comes into tonight with a 4-4 mark after winning its tourney finale at the Graber Post Buildings Classic on Monday, which earned the Eels seventh-place in a stout field. The squad undoubtedly would like a better Greene County Tourney mark after losing its first two contests at North Daviess in the holiday tourney. However, it will be a tough road starting with the once-beaten T-Birds, whose only loss has been to Class 4A Martinsville. One thing potentially in Clay City's favor is that Eastern hasn't played a game since a Dec. 22nd win over Bloomfield. While the T-Birds may have fresh legs, the Eels shouldn't have much rust following a three-game stint in four days over the holiday break. Clay City looks to snap a five-game losing streak to Eastern that dates back to a one-point win in the 2008-09 season.
The T-Birds are led by Tyler Brough, who averaged 22.5 ppg. through the first eight games of the season. Brough, is complemented by Kurtis Stille (10.1 ppg.) and Logan Frye (9.4 ppg.).
One unique aspect of the blind draw is a Class 1A vs. Class 2A match-up in each of the opening round contests. The inclusion of a 6-3 Bloomfield squad this year should heighten the anticipation as the Cardinals take on a WRV squad that dropped a one-point decision to Bloomfield on Dec. 15.
In tonight's other first round match-up, Bloomfield's Ben Hays (19.6 ppg.) and Kyle Robinson (13.4 ppg.) lead their team in against WRV (5-2), which gets a balanced scoring effort from Cade Hill (10.8 ppg.), Luke Mowery (10.2 ppg.) and Mitch Ingram (9.6 ppg.).
Tickets for the tourney are $5 per session with no "season passes" available. Tourney play continues Friday with winners' bracket games beginning at 6 p.m. and Saturday features consolation games in the morning and afternoon followed by a third-place game at 6 p.m.