The Whiteland boys basketball program demonstrated last season how years of Johnson County tournament futility can be erased in the time it takes to play two games.
Breaking a 61-year title drought, the Warriors might have unknowingly provided Edinburgh (last title in 1961), Greenwood (1965) and Indian Creek (never won) additional hope for this week’s event.
Tonight’s first-round games begin the 58th tourney, which was started back up in 2005 after a 39-year hiatus (1966-2004).
The matchups are repeats of early regular-season games all the way down to the location.
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Edinburgh hosts Indian Creek with hopes of avenging an 83-53 loss to the Braves in November. Also, Franklin looks for a second win at Greenwood this season after scoring a buzzer-beating 48-46 win there on Dec. 9.
Franklin, as the No. 3 seed, should be the home team. However, with the Grizzly Cubs girls basketball squad hosting Columbus North tonight, the game has to be played on the Woodmen’s home court.
“That’s the highest-ranked opponent available and that’s who we get. And we have to go back to their gym. But we’ll do our best,” said Franklin coach Brad Dickey, whose Cubs are seeded behind top seed Whiteland and No. 2 Center Grove.
“The seedings all make sense and numbers 4, 5 and 6 are all pulled from a hat. I’d like to see that hat, but I’m not part of the process. We just know Greenwood will be greatly improved, and we hope we are, too.”
The Franklin-Greenwood winner plays Center Grove in the first semifinal 6 p.m. Friday at Whiteland. Either Indian Creek or Edinburgh must then play the Warriors on their home floor in the second semi, slated for approximately 7:30 p.m.
“We’ve been to Edinburgh once already and played well down there,” Indian Creek coach Derek Perry said. “I think right now Whiteland and Center Grove are probably the favorites, but there are other teams that could slip in there and win it.
“I try to sell it to the players as, ‘Hey, you should have a chip on your shoulder’. We’re the team that has nothing to lose. We’re trying to use that as motivation to do something that’s never been done.”
Number of county titles from each school and the most recent year it won:
Indian Creek has yet to win a county championship. (Morgantown, Needham and Nineveh also did not win any during their existence.)
Johnson County tournament
Indian Creek at Edinburgh, 7 p.m.
Franklin at Greenwood, 7 p.m.
Franklin-Greenwood winner vs. Center Grove, 6 p.m.
IC-Edinburgh winner vs. Whiteland, 7:30 p.m.
Fifth-place game, 4:30 p.m.
Third-place game, 6 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.
A look at this week’s Johnson County boys basketball tournament:
Indian Creek (7-3)
Players to watch: Tim Abel, 6-2 senior guard; Jared DeHart, 6-0 junior guard; Bryce Hogue, 6-3 senior forward/center; Trevor Ankney, 6-1 sophomore guard/forward; Zach Pugh, 5-9 sophomore guard
Head coach: Derek Perry (seventh season, 83-59)
Sagarin rating: 66.84 (183rd in Indiana)
Against county tourney opponents: Defeated Edinburgh, 83-53
Players to watch: Coltan Henderson, 5-11 sophomore guard; Parker Bryant, 6-1 junior forward; Justin Fosskuhl, 5-9 junior guard; Cameron Cravens, 5-9 senior guard; Hunter Dean, 5-11 sophomore forward; Bryce Burton, 5-11 sophomore guard
Head coach: Drew Glentzer (seventh season, 90-63)
Sagarin rating: 43.04 (368th)
Against county tourney opponents: Lost to Indian Creek, 83-53
Players to watch: Jacob Rockey, 5-10 senior guard; Hunter Gross, 6-2 senior forward; Cory Richards, 6-2 sophomore guard; Blaine Wentzell, 5-9 sophomore guard; Drew Byerly, 6-3 freshman forward
Head coach: Brad Dickey (third season, 33-24)
Sagarin rating: 72.80 (123rd)
Against county tourney opponents: Defeated Greenwood, 48-46; lost to Center Grove, 51-33
Players to watch: Adam Rapp, 6-0 senior forward; Jeffrey Reynolds, 6-7 junior forward/center; Braydon Kincaid, 6-2 junior guard/forward; Eric Moenkhaus, 6-2 junior guard/forward; Max Raker, 5-11 junior guard
Head coach: Bruce Hensley (28th season, 258-342)
Sagarin rating: 75.03 (100th)
Against county tourney opponents: Lost to Franklin, 48-46; lost to Center Grove, 58-52; defeated Whiteland, 61-53
Center Grove (6-4)
Players to watch: Trayce Jackson-Davis, 6-8 sophomore forward/center; Joey Klaasen, 6-4 junior forward; Nate McLain, 6-3 junior guard; Travis Roehling, 6-1 senior guard/forward; Spencer Piercefield, 6-0 sophomore guard
Head coach: Zach Hahn (third season, 28-30)
Sagarin rating: 86.71 (20th)
Against county tourney opponents: Lost to Whiteland, 65-58; defeated Franklin, 51-33; defeated Greenwood, 58-52
Players to watch: Mike Valle, 6-7 senior forward/center; Aaron Gross, 6-4 senior guard/forward; Riley Higdon, 5-10 junior guard; Brennan Neal, 6-3 sophomore guard/forward; Noah Hale, 5-10 sophomore guard/forward; Jacob Leistner, 6-4 senior forward/center.
Head coach: Matt Wadsworth (fifth season, 50-49)
Sagarin rating: 83.20 (41st in Indiana)
Against county tourney opponents: Defeated Center Grove, 65-58; lost to Greenwood, 61-53