By DYLAN MALONE
With wrestling, swimming and girls basketball in the books for the county, all eyes are on the boys basketball sectionals this Tuesday night.
I’m marking this year down as the rare occasion that it is (almost as rare as a Friday column...how exciting!).
For the first time, and probably the last, I will have a chance to catch all three county schools in action during the opening round. As it happens, the Jets and Stars play each other in the opener but the real kicker is that they play on Wednesday night in game two (approximately 7:30 p.m. at the Stardome in Berne).
The Braves play the second game at Norwell on Tuesday night against Columbia City, a game that the Eagles stole at home during the regular season 39-38 and one of the better games that I missed this year!
But all will be amended as I will get a rare second chance to see some fireworks from Bellmont, a team that has a significant shot at making it to the championship game against likely favorite Norwell.
“I’d like to see us get a nice draw and make a run at a title. We have the talent to be able to play well with good teams and we only need to see that for ourselves to believe it.”
Those were coach John Baker’s words as the head man enters his third sectional hoping for more success than his previous tries.
It was a bummer to see the team struggle at times between some let down losses and personnel issues but I believe, and so does coach Baker, that the best teams rise from the ashes of turmoil with something to prove.
If that’s true and the Braves somehow win their sectional than I propose a name change to the Bellmont Phoenix.
Not that I doubt them.
No, I fully believe they can compete with the Norwell’s of the state because I’ve seen it in spurts. Huntington North was shell-shocked for about 14 minutes of the first half in their collegiate-sized gym. Concordia was in the same boat until late third quarter.
I could go on and on about this season but the fact is that the Braves need to put together 32 minutes to beat Columbia City. Then another 32 minutes against Mississinewa in the semi-finals. Then, if they manage that they will have to turn around less than 24 hours later and piece together the best game they’ve played all season long against the home-team Knights gunning for another easy sectional title.
Come out and support your team, Bellmont. Even if you’re holding out for baseball/track season, bring your pom-poms to Norwell and let’s get this done.
It’s bitter sweet to see two county teams going at it in the sectionals.
I don’t like the fact that one of the teams will have their season end on Tuesday night and the other will go on to play Friday night next week.
The good part is that everyone that goes to see the game on Wednesday will be in for a treat.
The Jets feast on three-point shooting and fundamental looks offensively. Last week they saw what happens when you play against the chaotic defensive that coach Andy Brown institutes at South Adams.
Yes, the Stars are on a big-time losing streak and it’s been a struggle in the Brown-era but at South Adams it’s not about the numbers quite yet. It’s about a culture change.
Don’t believe me? Ask the girls coach Brett Freeman, whose girls won a record number of games this season, a victory total not seen since the early 90s and further back.
The boys could take that leap as well. They have a talented young core of kids and next year led by Wanner and Vasquez they could be the dark horse of the ACAC.
But we’re in 2013-14 right now and they have the tall task of downing the Jets in the sectional opener. Blackhawk Christian learned the hard way this week that a hot-shooting Adams Central is no slouch.
The Jets downed the Stars on a day they coughed up the ball way too many times and Kable couldn’t shoot a beach ball in the ocean (no offense, Blade).
Central is hitting their shots at the right time now and Stars will need to play the perfect game to stand a chance but don’t count them out. There’s something about a county-rivalry coupled with a losing streak that makes SA particularly scary to play in an elimination game, especially on their home floor.
All three county schools are in action to close their regular season tonight. The Braves host Jay County (DDD webcast available), while the Jets travel to Lakewood Park Christian and the Stars venture to Eastbrook. All three games should keep the teams sharp for Tuesday and Wednesday’s sectional battle royales!