Gorches: This time it’s going to be different
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or email@example.com February 2, 2012 11:04PM
Lowell's Katie Bobos drives to the basket around Boone Grove's Nicole Malouhos during a game on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, in Lowell. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 4, 2012 8:17AM
Another winter, another girls basketball state tournament that’s about to begin.
Well, it’s not really winter, is it? Not with the weather the way it’s been recently. More like late fall or early spring, huh?
And it’s a different girls hoops tourney that will be starting next week, especially across Northwest Indiana, where realignment by the IHSAA has changed things up.
Hanover Central has moved up to Class 3A. Whiting and Bowman Academy have moved up to 2A. Griffith has changed sectionals.
And those moves are going to make a huge impact. How will they affect the outcome of sectional play?
Well, let me give you my opinion in the annual sectional prediction column. Some years I’ve been darn good — two years ago I went 7-1. Other years, not so good, like last year when I only got two correct. Let’s shoot for a perfect record this time.
Class 4A: In the biggest class, there were no realignment changes. Both region sectionals are exactly the same, but that doesn’t mean the results will be the same.
In Sectional 1, Lake Central pulled off the surprise last season. The Indians are poised for a similar result this year with an up-and-down season, but some decent wins along the way. And West Side has played very well at times despite being freshman-heavy in the starting lineup.
But after seeing Lowell throttle Griffith to win its first Northwest Crossroads Conference title, I’m convinced the Devils are ready to win their first sectional title since 2000.
As for Sectional 2, how can anyone pick against Merrillville? The Pirates haven’t lost. They’ve had a couple close games in the Duneland. Well, they were close until the last four minutes when the Pirates pulled away. Even Michigan City, a team that on paper is as talented as Merrillville, only came sort of close to beating the Pirates. So not only will I pick Merrillville to win its second sectional in the last three years, but I’ll take them to win a couple more rounds in the postseason.
Class 3A: After being in Sectional 18 with NCC foes Andrean and KV and geographic rival Calumet for several years, Griffith is now hosting Sectional 17 with an unfortunate draw. The Panthers face an above-average Gavit squad on Tuesday, then, if they win that game, face defending sectional champ Roosevelt in the semifinals.
Not an easy draw, and it’s not like Griffith has been playing well late in the season. But I still can’t go against coach Tom Golumbeck and his defensive system. It always seems to step up in the postseason and it will again.
Griffith’s move is Hanover’s late Christmas present. The Wildcats move up to 3A into a sectional in which the defending champ isn’t there anymore and the rest of the teams aren’t having good years. Hanover, on the other hand, is having a very good season, almost beating Boone Grove for the PCC title last week. I’ll take Hanover to win its first 3A sectional crown.
Class 2A: Now the two local 2A sectional are doozies. Sectional 33 is stacked with three teams that could win — Bowman Academy, Wheeler and Whiting. The Eagles have beaten Whiting twice. The Oilers have split with Wheeler, winning the GSSC round-robin title but losing the GSSC Tournament. In addition to the split with Whiting, Wheeler has beaten Griffith.
So who wins out of this group? The Bearcats have a slight advantage on the top half of the bracket while Whiting and Bowman duke it out on the bottom half. But Bowman has a little more talent than the other two squads, and that should be enough to escape this tough sectional.
Sectional 34 isn’t any easier. Before Thursday’s games the top four teams in the bracket — Boone Grove, North Judson, Winamac and Rochester — had a combined record of 59-18 and all four of them are ranked in the top 20 of the 2A coaches poll.
Oh, and all four of them play on the first night while the two teams with a combined 13-24 record get byes. Yeah, that makes total sense.
Anyway, after flipping a coin a few times, I’ll go with Boone Grove only because the Wolves are due to win one of these tough brackets.
Class 1A: With a couple good teams moving up, the region 1A sectionals look a little barren. Kouts should win Sectional 49 fairly easily without Bowman or Whiting around, while Oregon-Davis should win its own Sectional 51.