Girl basketball: Pirates to face Portage in sectional opener; MC gets CP
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or email@example.com January 27, 2013 11:32PM
Michigan City's Keshyana Cooper stops Merrillville's Jaz Talley at the basket in the fourth quarter at Michigan City High School Friday night. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 1, 2013 7:24PM
With the exception of Michigan City, the other teams in the Class 4A Portage Sectional might not be happy that Merrillville’s regular season winning streak ended Friday night — at the hands of those Wolves.
And thanks to Sunday’s IHSAA girls basketball sectional draw, the first team that could feel the wrath of the Pirates as they refocus their attention on the postseason is Portage.
The Indians will face Merrillville in the last of four first round games. But it’s something coach Chris Seibert expected to happen eventually.
“We knew we’d have to face them, more than likely, and we’re excited to be on our home court,” he said.
In the teams’ second matchup in Duneland Conference play on Jan. 5, Portage actually led at halftime before losing by 13, so Seibert said his squad knows it can hang with the conference champs.
So does Michigan City, which boasts Merrillville’s last two losses and three of the Pirates’ last four defeats. The Wolves face Crown Point in the first game of the Portage Sectional.
The best first-round matchup in the other 4A sectional at Munster pits Lake Central against West Side.
In Class 3A, Hanover Central coach Doug Nelson won’t have to ask anyone for help in scouting possible opponents. On their home floor, the Wildcats will face Andrean in the first game of the bracket. The two teams faced on Dec. 19 with Hanover surviving for a 41-37 victory.
“That was a tough game,” Nelson recalled. “Familiarity is important for the girls and their confidence since we beat Andrean. But the important thing is that we get as healthy as possible physically and mentally.”
If the Wildcats were to win that first game, the next opponent would be Knox, the defending sectional champ which defeated Hanover by nine points in the championship of Hanover’s holiday tournament.
But unlike most teams headed into this lull week before the sectionals, Hanover has other priorities, starting with Tuesday’s rescheduled game at Boone Grove with a possible Porter County Conference round-robin title still in the cards and the PCC Kup on the line.
“We have two conference games left (LaCrosse later in the week) and still have goals we want to accomplish,” Nelson said. “Maybe that will help keep the girls sharp and focused.”
In 2A, Boone Grove will try to win its first sectional title in five years at Hebron. The Wolves get the winner of the first-round matchup between the host Hawks and defending champ Winamac. At River Forest, Bishop Noll and Whiting are on opposite ends of the bracket. Noll defeated the Oilers twice this season to win the Greater South Shore Conference round-robin and tourney titles.
In Class 1A, host Morgan Township has a rematch with Kouts in the first round. Besides facing each other on Dec. 8 (a 13-point victory for the Fillies), the two teams also met in last year’s sectional final in which the Cherokees won.