Valley, Caston, Pioneer receive byes; Winamac gets NM; Argos, Culver get Wednesday openers
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Rochester boys basketball team played in their first IHSAA state tournament in 1911. Wabash played in their first in 1919.
But they have never played against each other in a state tournament game.
That is about to change as the Zebras and Apaches drew each other in a Class 2A, Sectional 36 quarterfinal.
In addition, Tippecanoe Valley, Caston and Pioneer received byes, and Winamac will once again open with North Miami.
Also, both Culver and Argos will open up postseason play in separate games at Triton on Feb. 28.
Those were among the revelations of the IHSAA boys basketball draw Sunday.
This year’s sectionals will occur from Feb. 27-March 2. Regionals are March 9, semistates are March 16, and the four state title games are March 30.
There are two changes to the tournament format. First, the IHSAA will pick regional sites after the sectionals are completed with proximity for both schools factored in. While each regional site will again host two games, they could be in different classes.
Second, there will be a two-week break between the semistates and state title games because Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis will host NCAA tournament games during the weekend of March 23.
Sectional tickets are $7 per session or $15 for an all-sectional ticket.
Rochester, Pioneer, Winamac
Rochester lost to Wabash 72-67 in their regular season meeting on Feb. 9 at the RHS gym. Owen Prater scored a career-high 23 points for Rochester, but Wabash made 13 3-pointers to prevail.
The rematch is 6 p.m. Feb. 27 at Lewis Cass.
Rochester starts no seniors while Wabash relies on the senior trio of Izaak Wright, Trevor Daughtry and Grant Ford.
Wabash is 16-5 while no other team in the sectional has a winning record.
The Wabash-Rochester winner will play Pioneer, who received a bye, in the semifinals. Pioneer does not play either Wabash or Rochester during the regular season.
In the other half of the draw, North Miami drew Winamac with the winner to play Lewis Cass.
The North Miami-Winamac game will be a rematch of last year’s sectional quarterfinals, which Winamac won 66-48 at Rochester. They have not played since.
Lewis Cass is the defending regional champion, but they have slipped to 8-11 this year. However, they are on a three-game winning streak, including a 57-36 win over North Miami on Feb. 9.
In search of their first sectional title since 2019, Valley received a bye in Class 3A, Sectional 18. They will open up state tournament play against Knox at Valley on March 1.
Valley is 3-0 against sectional rivals during the regular season, including a 63-41 win over Knox on Feb. 9.
This will be the second state tournament meeting between Valley and Knox.
The other occurred in the 2003 sectional final at Plymouth, in which Knox earned a 49-43 win in two overtimes.
Valley coach Joe Luce has won six sectional titles in his career but is seeking his first at Valley. Knox coach Joe Eskridge guided Oregon-Davis to Class 1A sectional crowns in 2015 and 2017.
In the other half of the draw, Culver Academy will face John Glenn in the opener on Feb. 27, and the winner will face Bremen, who also received a bye.
John Glenn is the defending regional champion.
Valley is hosting a sectional for the first time since 2006, when they beat Fort Wayne Elmhurst, Peru and Norwell to take the title.
The last time Caston hosted a sectional in 2020, they won the sectional.
They will get a chance to repeat the feat when they open postseason play with a Class 1A, Sectional 52 semifinal on March 1.
Their opponent will be either West Central or North White, who will meet in the second quarterfinal on Feb. 27. Caston defeated West Central 80-47 on Jan. 23 and North White 60-37 on Feb. 1.
In the other half of the draw, South Newton will play Tri-County with the winner to meet Frontier.
Tri-County beat South Newton 55-30 on Jan. 26 and Frontier 43-38 on Jan. 20.
Tri-County is also the defending sectional champion.
All six teams in Sectional 52 have losing records. Tri-County, who started the season on a five-game losing streak, has the best record at 10-11. Caston is 9-11.
Seeking their first sectional title in 10 years, Culver will face No. 8 Triton in a Class 1A, Sectional 50 quarterfinal at Triton on Feb. 28.
Their sectional meeting will occur a week after they meet at Culver in their Hoosier North meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Culver is 1-5 all-time against Triton in sectional games, highlighted by a 61-51 win over Triton in the 2014 sectional semifinals.
The losses occurred in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2022.
The Triton-Culver winner will face the Argos-Westville winner in the semifinals.
Argos and Westville will meet in the second quarterfinal on Feb. 28.
Argos and Westville have not met in Jason Breden’s three years as Argos coach and not since a 59-41 Argos win on Jan. 29, 2021.
Argos is 0-3 all-time against Westville in the state tournament, losing sectional games in 2006, 2011 and 2012.
In the other half of the draw, Trinity Greenlawn will face defending regional champion Marquette Catholic in a quarterfinal on Feb. 27 with the winner to face Oregon-Davis.
Marquette Catholic beat Trinity Greenlawn 40-20 on Jan. 5 and Oregon-Davis 54-23 on Dec. 15 in their regular season meetings.