By DYLAN MALONE
Props to Bellmont for busting through regionals with a pair of timely comebacks...yes...two of them...against long-time rival Yorktown and up-and-coming wrestling power Snider. Good luck at State, boys.
The girls' basketball sectional draw, most likely under the radar for most Adams County sports fans, could not have turned out any better for the three county schools in the midst of one of the worst years cumulatively for all three schools who at this point have a combined record of 13-44 on the season heading down the stretch.
Bellmont's 3A draw finds them in the same web as perennial powerhouse Norwell who are 19-3 and currently sitting at the number two spot in the state polls after a thorough beat-down of the Lady Jets this week. Luckily for first-year coach Andy Heim's Squaws, who are a wavering 3-17 this season, they need not worry themselves with the Lady Knights unless they came make it to the finals as Norwell sits in the other bye position of the bracket of six teams.
Who the Squaws do need to worry about is the winner of Whitko (8-12) and Mississinewa (2-18), one of which will earn the rights to play Bellmont in the sectional semi-finals. Bellmont would have liked to have drawn Eastside, Mississinewa, or even Heritage, but getting the bye and a guaranteed semi-final appearance suits them fine as well.
The Squaws will more than likely face Whitko for the right to a likely meeting with Norwell in the final. The Lady Wildcats of Whitko lost to Norwell earlier in the year, 74-22, while the Squaws, who are in the NHC with the Lady Knights, lost 78-25. Using what I like to call the "Knight gauge" I will say that the teams seem to be close from a statistical standpoint. Although that may be a misnomer as AC just suffered a setback to Norwell 74-28, but lost to Bellmont 59-34 at the Teepee earlier this year.
I think the lopsided wins proves only that teams in girls basketball get more pumped up for important games than they do for games with unfamiliar opponents. It seems that you never know what happens when the county schools play each other. The Squaws have a shot to make it to the finals with Norwell if they play with the confidence they displayed around Christmas time in the beat down of the Lady Jets. No promises if they do make it to the championship though...
As for Adams Central and South Adams, both of 2A fame, the circumstances were equally as opportunistic with AC getting a slight edge for getting a bye.
The Lady Jets (7-12, best in the county) are just coming off a win at the Stardome over ACAC and cross-county rivals SA, and now sit in the second bye position awaiting the winner of South Adams (3-15) and Churubusco (6-14), two of the seven teams they have beaten this year and both by double figures.
Jets' coach Sam Beer did state, however, that he would rather play a first-round game to keep the flow moving for his team, but I'm sure he'd agree with me that the draw turned out pretty good for AC considering that Bishop Luers, the clear sectional favorite at 15-4 and currently ranked #2 in the 2A polls, is on the opposite side with a bye awaiting the winner of Bluffton and Eastside (both teams would be like a buzzing fly to Bishop Luers on their way to a potential 19th sectional win for the school,13th in 15 years).
The Lady Stars played their worst game of the season against the Lady Eagles of Churubusco just over a week ago, but it seemed a testament to fate that they would draw the Eagles in the first round of the sectional tournament and to have AC in the wings awaiting in the semi-finals.
Coach Ryan Cunningham's first year at the helm in Berne has proven to be a difficult one, but the Lady Starfires have shown signs of life throughout the season with their marquee moment coming in their dominant win against Muncie Burris earlier this year that snapped a 20+ game losing streak dating back to the early part of last season. The girls have just about as many losses this season, but as the SA coach would point out, the losses that were 30+ points last season have suddenly turned to single digits and he feels that they are on their way to better days.
Until that time, they must gear up for a rematch with 'Busco and then, should they win, another shot at the Jets.