Merrillville's Victoria Gaines and Amber Sturdivant get the rebound away from Michigan City's Dejania Evans in the fourth quarter at Michigan City High School Friday night. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Before we get to predicting the girls basketball sectional winners — because I know you’ve been waiting all week to find out what the guy who averages 50 percent on his picks thinks — I have to get something off my chest.
Oh, how I wish I could have picked Roosevelt in the Class 3A Griffith Sectional. But alas, somebody at the Gary school didn’t submit a roster to the IHSAA, resulting in the Panthers not being allowed to compete. Whether it was the coach or the athletic director or the principal, somebody screwed up. Even if they didn’t think they could win, it’s Roosevelt — a school that has won a boys state title and multiple girls sectional titles with numerous great players in its history — and you just can’t simply fail to submit a roster. If someone forgot, shame on him or her. If someone made a decision that it wasn’t worth submitting a roster, that person should be fired.
EdisonLearning may be doing a good job with academics at 25th and Harrison, but it’s doing a terrible job with athletics. The school has gone through two athletic directors, fired a football coach the day before the sectional, and now this incident. Doesn’t this place know how important athletics are to the morale of the school and kids’ self esteem?
OK, I feel better letting that out. Now let’s get to business …
The primary question with Sectional 1 is if I or anyone else believes Lowell can beat West Side or Lake Central. The Red Devils are going to reach the final, and the Cougars or Indians will be waiting. If you asked me a month ago, I would say “Yes, I believe Lowell can win.” But the Devils haven’t played well recently while West Side and LC are playing well. I’ll go with West Side to win its first title since 2009.
In Sectional 2, as in most recent years, it comes down to Michigan City and Merrillville. Yes, Chesterton did win in 2011, but the Wolves and Pirates have accounted for the other four titles since 2008 (MC has three of them). Since the Wolves did beat Merrillville last week, logic tells me the Pirates should bounce back. But I think they gave the Wolves all they had and still came up short. From top to bottom, MC has more talent so I can’t go against the Wolves.
No, I really wasn’t going to pick Roosevelt in the Griffith Sectional, but I really don’t want to pick anyone else, either. Cruel, but there aren’t exactly any basketball juggernauts in Sectional 17. The host Panthers have the toughest possible draw, facing the only other team above .500 in Lew Wallace. As with most years, I’ll stick with coach Tom Golumbeck’s Griffith squad.
Sectional 18 at Hanover Central is another story. Multiple teams can win this bracket, including defending champ Knox despite its 8-12 record. The Redskins (seriously, when is that Starke County school going to change that racist nickname?) were below .500 last year before winning the title, so anything can happen. But host Hanover, Kankakee Valley, Rensselaer and even Andrean have a chance to bring home a title. I’m going with KV to win its first title since 2005.
For once, the draw worked out the way it should in Sectional 33 at River Forest. The two best teams are clearly Bishop Noll and Whiting, and they’re on opposite ends of the draw. The Warriors beat the Oilers twice during the season, but that third time is always toughest. I’ve seen both teams and if you had to ask me who’s better, I’d be stumped, and the scores indicate how close they are — overtime in Greater South Shore Conference round-robin play and a four-point win in the GSSC tourney. So it’s not like Noll trounced Whiting. For the third meeting, I’m going with the Oilers in another close one.
In Sectional 34, it’s all about whether Boone Grove finish the deal for the first time since 2008. The Wolves will likely have to get past defending champ Winamac, then win a final against Rochester or North Judson. Boone did hand Winamac one of its four losses on Jan. 7, but am I convinced the Wolves are good enough to do it again? I’m 50/50 on the idea of Boone winning, so after flipping a coin, I’ll go with Winamac to repeat.
Sectional 49 needs multiple coin flips to figure out who’s going to win. The defending champ and slight favorite is Morgan Township, only because of the fairly tough schedule the Cherokees have matriculated through in the Porter County Conference. But Covenant Christian may be ready to win its first sectional in its fourth year of IHSAA competition. The Knights have played well at times this season under first-year coach Doug Robertson, who had been the coach at Bishop Noll for five years. I’m going with Covenant Christian in a close final over Morgan.
South Central won its second PCC round-robin title (2006) after Hanover lost to Boone Grove on Tuesday, but can the Satellites win their second sectional (2005) in Sectional 51 at Oregon-Davis. The host team is ranked No. 2 in the ICGSA poll, and doesn’t look like it’s in any danger of slowing down. South Central should make the final, but O-D will not lose at this point in the postseason.
Now don’t be placing bets based on these predictions, but for some reason I’m pretty optimistic about them — much more optimistic than I am about EdisonLearning’s ability to run an athletic department.