By DYLAN MALONE
Sectional basketball is here at last. Firstly though, Bellmont deserves all the props in the world for continually year-in and year-out dominating the wrestling world in Indiana. Even after 25+ years of Bellmont heroics, the big schools like Perry Meridian still look over their shoulders and worry about when they’ll have to face the scrappy Braves.
They’ve figured out the formula at Bellmont. You can figure out a big school’s secret on film or scouting, but there’s something about the little guy who keeps coming at you that just scares the lights out of the big boys in crunch time.
You know it’s a historic year when the Braves are more worried about getting out of sectionals alive than they are about regionals and semi-state. It’s a shame only one team could go to regionals because South Adams and Adams Central certainly earned the right to be there. More than likely they would have defeated the schools involved in regionals as well.
While I don’t claim to know as much about wrestling yet as Mr. Jim Hopkins, I can sense something amiss when every school in the state is grouped into one big tournament.
The IHSAA made a huge stride when they divided the basketball tournament into four classes. Why can’t the same be done for the wrestling? Maybe four is too many, but why not take the soccer approach and make it a big and small class tourney?
This would solve the problems of swimming as well. Munster hasn’t lost a sectional in 41 years! More locally, Homestead has won 13 in a row including this season’s tournament.
Bellmont won this season for the first time since 1980 for their sixth sectional. The Starfires from South Adams won in 1981 and ‘82 but haven’t tasted sectional glory since. Adams Central? Never.
At least in a two class system, the little guy can feel there’s a chance to make some noise. Bellmont was excited just to be a part of the state competition for boys swimming, but if they were part of the small school division perhaps they would have the mentality that they had a shot of qualifying for either a team or individual spots.
Back to class action...
I hate it when the county schools play each other. Ideally it means that both schools have won and earned their way to meet each other in which case that’s a good time to play each other (i.e. had SA beat Sheridan in football and we had an Adams County regional).
As it stands though, SA received a bye, not exactly the most prestigious root to the semi-final, but coach Brown’s team will not complain about the extra rest and practice time. His group has got to be feeling like they got the good end of the draw with Bluffton and Bishop Luers looming on the other side of the bracket and AC, a foe they just recently went toe-to-toe with, is coming to town...their town.
Yes, the SA-hosted sectional will be packed full of Jets and Stars fans, possibly more than a few weeks ago when they Jets used the Starfires as a jumping point to win the ACAC regular season title unopposed. The Stars will remember that moment come Friday.
But AC is hungry. They’ve been craving a winning season for quite some time and they got that last year. They only got a taste of the honey last season in an anti-climactic finish that ended with Bluffton hoisting the sectional trophy after a gritty effort against Luers.
This year, for the first time in decades, perhaps, the Jets are considered to be the favorites. Surely the Jets had their eye on the finals with either the Knights or the Tigers when they were rudely awoken by the Churubusco Eagles on Tuesday night. I don’t see AC making the same mistake twice, especially after SA almost embarrassed the Jets a few weeks back when Dustin Wanner of the Stars outscored the Jets single-handedly in the first quarter.
No, the Jets will not let the Stars sneak up on them again. But that game was anything but conventional. Wanner is capable of dropping 30+ in a game, but can he do it again? Was it a fluke?
What would be a fluke is if Wanner gets no help again on Friday against the Jets. He outscored the rest of the team,, 31-23 at the Stardome, but no matter how many he scores on Friday, it will have to be accompanied by points from his teammates if the Stars have any chance to play spoiler to the Jets’ dream season.
Whoever wins has quite a finals to look forward to in either Luers or Bluffton (my money is on the Tigers) and an even more stacked regional with Bowman Academy, Wapahani, and Hebron more than likely waiting.
Friday’s Prediction: Adams Central 72, South Adams 63; Bluffton 64, Bishop Luers 61