Whiteland boys basketball coach Matt Wadsworth appreciates the fact his team is the No. 1 seed going into this week’s Johnson County Tournament.
Now comes the difficult part — living up to it.
With as even a six-team field as there’s been since the tourney resurfaced in 2005 after a 40-year hiatus, Wadsworth knows the seedings are nothing more than a number.
“I definitely think it’s a balanced field. Probably more than any other year. Seeding is irrelevant. Maybe it’s an advantage when you’re in that ‘1’ or ‘2’ spot not having to play (tonight), but outside of that, I expect every game to be really competitive,” Wadsworth said.
“It’s just going to come down to who plays well on a given night. In a tournament atmosphere you have to take care of the basketball and get your rebounds. We talk to the kids about playing hard every possession.”
Whiteland is coming off Saturday night’s 61-52 victory against Greenwood.
The Warriors don’t play until Friday’s second semifinal at Indian Creek against tonight’s first-round winner between the Woodmen and Indian Creek.
Second-seeded Franklin awaits this evening’s Edinburgh-Center Grove winner and will play that team in Friday’s 6 p.m. first semifinal.
Whiteland opened the season losing by 24 points at home to Mt. Vernon (Fortville), reeled off seven consecutive wins before losing to Perry Meridian and got back on track against Greenwood.
“From Game 1 to now I’ve been happy with the progression we’ve made. I still think there’s room for growth. As a coach it always feels good to be 8-2 and know that you have ways and opportunities to get better,” Wadsworth said.
Franklin at 7-2 is also playing well, having recovered from two recent losses at the Rushville Tournament to down Center Grove and Mooresville.
Second-year Grizzly Cubs coach Brad Dickey feels the seedings are relatively accurate, but to watch out for 11-1 Indian Creek, which plays all of its games on its own hardwood.
“Whiteland’s the No. 1 because they’re good. They seem to have a lot of talent, and then it’s us and (No. 3 seed) Center Grove, which makes sense because our programs are very closely matched right now,” Dickey said.
“Indian Creek is the hard one to handicap. They’ve got a bunch of wins and are doing a great job. Maybe their strength of schedule set them back a little bit, but winning is winning, and they’re doing a lot of that.”
The Johnson County Tournament was an annual happening from 1921 to 1965, discontinued for four decades and then brought back in 2005. Whiteland, which already has downed Center Grove and Greenwood this season, seeks its first title since 1955.
Greenwood (4-6) at Indian Creek (11-1), 7 p.m.
Edinburgh (3-10) at Center Grove (4-6), 7 p.m.
At Indian Creek
Edinburgh-CG winner vs. Franklin (7-2), 6 p.m.
GW-IC winner vs. Whiteland (8-2), 7:30 p.m.
At Indian Creek
Fifth-place game, 4 p.m.
Third-place game, 5:45 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.