Who’s it going to be?
All of the high school boys basketball games that have been played across Indiana this winter have given us some idea of who the best teams are — but as of now, those games mean nothing. Everyone starts with a clean slate this week, and we’re left waiting to see which teams can find the extra gear at the right time.
One of the state’s more intriguing sectionals begins this evening at Franklin Central, where Johnson County’s four largest programs are among the six in a balanced field. Will the host Flashes make it five sectional titles in a row after a tumultuous regular season? Can steady, battle-tested Center Grove continue its breakthrough campaign? Will a talented Whiteland team regain its early-season momentum? Or will Franklin or Greenwood play the spoiler role?
This week, those questions will get answered. Here’s a glance at the six teams in the draw:
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Center Grove Trojans
Coach: Zach Hahn
Record: 15-7 (2-5 Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference)
Sagarin rating: 88.43 (16th in Indiana, 16th in Class 4A)
A year ago: Lost to Franklin, 65-60, in Martinsville Sectional semifinal
Players to watch: Trayce Jackson-Davis, sophomore (12.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 79 blocks); Spencer Piercefield, sophomore (11.8 ppg, 22 steals, 46% 3-point FG, 95% FT); Travis Roehling, senior (11.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 43 assists, 22 steals)
Against the field: 5-2 (beat Martinsville, 64-27; lost at Whiteland, 65-58 and 53-47; beat Franklin, 51-33; beat Greenwood, 58-52 and 67-45; lost to Franklin Central 61-51 but was later awarded win by forfeit)
Outlook: Since a brief midseason lull that ended with a loss to Whiteland in the county championship game, the Trojans are 7-3 despite facing a grueling schedule. Center Grove is young but has its best regular-season record since 2010-11, a blossoming post presence in Jackson-Davis and dangerous shooters all over the place. Their path through the bracket is littered with potential landmines, but on paper, the Trojans have to be considered a slight favorite.
Franklin Grizzly Cubs
Coach: Brad Dickey
Record: 14-8 (6-0 Mid-State Conference)
Sagarin rating: 73.53 (119th in Indiana, 73rd in Class 4A)
A year ago: Lost to Franklin Central, 62-48, in Martinsville Sectional championship
Players to watch: Hunter Gross, senior (8.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 27 blocks), Cory Richards, sophomore (12.3 ppg, 37 steals), Jacob Rockey, senior (8.1 ppg, 75 assists, 35 steals)
Against the field: 3-2 (won at Greenwood, 48-46; lost to Greenwood, 63-51; lost at Center Grove, 51-33; won at Whiteland, 45-36; beat Martinsville, 81-77)
Outlook: What do the Grizzly Cubs have to do to get some respect? Facing low expectations after heavy graduation losses, all Franklin did was run the table in the Mid-State, earning its first outright league crown in 30 years. They’re not big or flashy and they don’t have much star power, but the Grizzly Cubs can light it up from long range and present some matchup problems. The winner of tonight’s Franklin Central-Greenwood clash will have its hands full on Friday.
Franklin Central Flashes
Coach: John Rockey
Record: 9-12 (3-3 Conference Indiana)
Sagarin rating: 85.39 (28th in Indiana, 26th in Class 4A)
A year ago: Won Martinsville Sectional; lost to Evansville Reitz, 81-80, in Seymour Regional semifinal
Players to watch: Jake Cerbone, senior (8.8 ppg, 44 percent 3-point FG); Mason Hardimon, senior (11.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 117 assists, 42 steals); Grant Pedigo, senior (17.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 45 assists, 20 blocks)
Against the field: 0-1 (forfeited 61-51 win over Center Grove)
Outlook: Don’t be fooled by the record. The Flashes were forced to forfeit four midseason games — including a Jan. 7 win over Center Grove — for using an ineligible player, leading to a 10-game losing streak on paper. They closed with four straight wins, including routs of Fishers and Roncalli, and they’ll be playing on their home floor. Pedigo will be a tough assignment for whoever’s guarding him.
Coach: Bruce Hensley
Record: 11-12 (2-4 Mid-State Conference)
Sagarin rating: 71.32 (140th in Indiana, 80th in Class 4A)
A year ago: Lost to Franklin Central, 82-49, in Martinsville Sectional semifinal
Players to watch: Braydon Kincaid, junior (10.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 78 assists, 25 steals), Eric Moenkhaus, junior (18.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 33 steals), Jeffrey Reynolds, junior (13.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 54 blocks)
Against the field: 2-4 (lost at Martinsville, 56-54; lost to Franklin, 48-46; beat Franklin, 63-51; beat Whiteland, 61-53; lost to Center Grove, 58-52 and 67-45)
Outlook: The Woodmen limp into the sectional having won just three of their last nine, with double-digit losses to Indian Creek and New Palestine last week. How long the farewell tour lasts for outgoing coach Bruce Hensley depends on how quickly Greenwood can regroup. This is a talented team that could be dangerous this week if it gets hot — but it will need to come up with the consistent 32-minute efforts it has struggled to put together this season.
Coach: Kip Staggs
Record: 5-15 (1-5 Mid-State Conference)
Sagarin rating: 62.92 (232nd in Indiana, 98th in Class 4A)
A year ago: Lost to Greenwood, 63-60, in first round of Martinsville Sectional
Players to watch: Levy Chandler, senior (12 ppg, 3 rpg); Jonathan Collier, junior (8 ppg, 3 rpg); Tyler Stead, sophomore (12 ppg, 7 rpg, 45% 3-point FG)
Against the field: 1-3 (beat Greenwood, 56-54; lost at Center Grove, 64-27; lost at Franklin, 81-77; lost to Whiteland, 57-47)
Outlook: Graduation took a big bite out of the Artesians’ roster after last season, and that has been evident for most of this winter. Martinsville lost its last seven and 11 of its final 12, and it seems unlikely to get things turned around against a pretty solid sectional. The 6-foot-5 Stead could end up being the best player in this field a year or two from now, but he doesn’t have the help he needs to make a Cinderella run here.
Coach: Matt Wadsworth
Record: 14-7 (3-3 Mid-State Conference)
Sagarin rating: 79.48 (70th in Indiana, 51st in Class 4A)
A year ago: Lost to Center Grove, 63-52, in first round of Martinsville Sectional
Players to watch: Aaron Gross, senior (11.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 24 steals, 34 blocks, 42 percent 3-point FG), Brennan Neal, sophomore (12.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg), Michael Valle, senior (19.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 52 assists, 30 steals, 21 blocks)
Against the field: 3-2 (beat Center Grove, 65-58 and 53-47; lost at Greenwood, 61-53; lost to Franklin, 45-36; won at Martinsville, 57-47)
Outlook: The Warriors stormed out of the gates this season, getting off to a 9-2 start that included a second straight county title and two wins over Center Grove. They’re a 5-5 team since. Valle and Gross present a pair of matchup nightmares, and Whiteland is capable of beating teams in a number of ways. Can it get its groove back this week? If so, it’s certainly capable of cutting down some more nets come Saturday night.
This week’s boys basketball sectionals:
Class 4A Franklin Central Sectional
Franklin Central vs. Greenwood, 6 p.m.
Whiteland vs. Martinsville, 7:30 p.m.
Franklin Central-Greenwood winner vs. Franklin, 6 p.m.
Whiteland-Martinsville winner vs. Center Grove, 7:30 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Class 4A Decatur Central Sectional
Ben Davis vs. Pike, 6 p.m.
Perry Meridian vs. Roncalli, 7:30 p.m.
Ben Davis-Pike winner vs. Decatur Central, 6 p.m.
Perry Meridian-Roncalli winner vs. Southport, 7:30 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Class 3A Indianapolis Northwest Sectional
Danville vs. Park Tudor, 7 p.m.
Indian Creek vs. Beech Grove, 6 p.m.
Indianapolis Washington vs. Cardinal Ritter, 7:30 p.m.
Danville-Park Tudor winner vs. Indianapolis Northwest, 6 p.m.
Wednesday’s winners, 7:30 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Class A Edinburgh Sectional
Morristown vs. Edinburgh, 6 p.m.
Indianapolis Arlington vs. Central Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Morristown-Edinburgh winner vs. Greenwood Christian, 6 p.m.
Indianapolis Arlington-Central Christian winner vs. Indianapolis Lutheran, 7:30 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.