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Somewhere in Bluffton today, Tiger basketball coach Kevin Leising has to be smiling.
The results of the 101st IHSAA state boys basketball tournament were released Sunday evening and Leising's crew drew away from class 2A power Bishop Luers by picking up South Adams in the opening game of the South Adams sectional on Tuesday, March 1 at 7 p.m.
The winner of that game, then faces a weak Woodlan squad in the Friday semi-final contest while one of the more interesting match-ups in the area, Adams Central and Bishop Luers will play at 6 p.m. Friday. The championship tilt at Berne is slated for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 5.
In class 3A action, Bellmont has the worst record of any of the five teams enrolled at the Bellmont sectional (3-14) and opens the tournament at the Teepee against 13-6 Maconaquah at 7 p.m. March 1. On Friday, Norwell and Wayne will provide the entertainment in the first game while the Bellmont-Maconaquah survivor meets up with Peru, which at one time earlier in the season was one of the top-ranked teams in class 3A.
The Bellmont championship game is also set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, the fifth.
Adams Central has won three in a row and five of their last six enroute to rolling up a 12-6 record so far this year. They'll finish off the regular season this week with home tilts against Blackford on Tuesday and New Haven on Friday.
"We played really well last Friday night against South Adams and this should be a good week of competition coming up to get us ready for the sectional," he noted, adding he's personally seen Bishop Luers play four times this year "and we have lots of DVDs of them to watch. Bishop Luers is very, very quick. They've got Evan Blackmon, a senior, and James Blackmon, a sophomore, and both are excellent players. Down low they've got some size so they definitely provide us with a challenge."
Woodlan and South Adams battled to escape the cellar of the ACAC on Feb. 12 and the Stars, now 4-12 on the season, escaped with a 59-44 win over the Warriors. Woodlan has lost seven in a row and have a 2-16 mark to date; one of those victories came against South Adams in the January ACAC tourney.
South Adams started the season off at 2-1 with wins over Daleville and Muncie Burris but then didn't win again until recording a 57-54 triumph over county rival Bellmont. The Stars have dropped seven of their last eight.
Bluffton enters the tourney at 12-5.
Patterson: Not Afraid
One aspect that Bellmont coach Larry Patterson feels will benefit his team coming into the class 3A sectional is that the Braves are the home team.
"We have never liked having to get into the bus and driving all the way over to Peru or Maconaquah because of the long distance. We're at home for a change and I think that will be a big help to us," he said.
Patterson feels that with a break and there the 3-14 Braves "would be about a .500 team. We've got to come out and be ready to play. Not just three quarters a game like the last couple of games we've had, but a solid four-quarter effort."
Bellmont will see plenty of action this week prior to the sectional with home games Tuesday and Wednesday against Bishop Dwenger and Concordia, and then at Jay County on Friday. Dwenger is just 5-13 on the season but whipped a good Leo team by 23 points last weekend.
Patterson said that even though three of the teams have solid records (Maconaquah is 13-6, Peru is 13-5, and Norwell is 14-4 while Wayne is 9-10 playing a tough schedule), he's "not afraid" of playing any of the teams.
"We probably got the team (Maconaquah) that we wanted in our first game so we'll go from there," he said.
Bellmont is on an 11-game losing skid.