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Area sectionals could have new champions this year

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By Larry Goffinet

One of the things that makes the IHSAA boys basketball sectionals so interesting is they are single-elimination. With a bad draw or one bad game, a really good team can make an early exit.

Compare that with the individual state wrestling tourney, where Prince-ton’s Drake Stein won the 171-pound state title despite not winning his regional or even his sectional.

While it’s kind of nice to see someone from Tell City’s sectional win a state title, the fact that he could do so without even winning the sectional kind of cheapens the importance of the sectional.

That’s not the case in basketball.

The fact that a single-elimination basketball tourney can be unpredictable should be a welcome fact to Perry County’s three teams, as none of them will be considered a favorite in this week’s sectionals.

In fact, according to Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings, none of them is even favored to win a sectional game.

Perry Central will open play in the Class 2A sectional at Huntingburg Tuesday against defending champion Forest Park. And Tell City will play the winner of that game Friday.

Cannelton will play a much better than usual New Harmony team in the first game of the Wood Memorial Class A sectional Tuesday.

Despite the fact that single-elimination tourneys can be unpredictable, the same teams have dominated these sectionals for several years.

Tecumseh has won the Class A sectional 12 years in a row. Cannelton, which won it the first year it was held (1997) is the only other team to win it.

Forest Park has won the Class 2A sectional five of the last seven years. The only other teams to win it in that span are Southridge, which now competes in Class 3A, and Mater Dei.

It’s likely that some unfamiliar team names will be seen in the championship photos this year, though.

I’m sure Perry County fans are hoping it will be one of their teams. And as I said, anything can happen in a single-elimination tourney.

But North Posey, which won its only boys basketball sectional title in 1966, would have to be considered the favorite in the Class 2A sectional.

The Vikings are 17-2 (before Friday’s regular-season finale against Gibson Southern) and ranked fifth in the state in Class 2A by The Associated Press.

I’ve seen them play twice this season and they are solid in every area. They have strong defense (giving up an average of only 45.6 points per game), ball-handling and perimeter shooting. And they have a physically strong center in Bryce Pearson, who really knows how to play the low post.

Tecumseh is not as talented as in recent seasons but is still a threat to repeat its Class A title with Coach Kevin Oxley at the helm.

However, I think New Harmony could be the favorite to win its first boys sectional title ever.

The Rappites are 11-9, their first winning record in decades. They are well coached and they have an athletic center, 6-foot-5 Robert Perry, who can be counted on for at least 15 points and 10 rebounds nearly every game.