After last year’s sectional final classic, Rochester draws Lewis Cass again
Valley gets W. Noble; Caston gets bye while Pioneer gets Frontier; Argos, Culver both draw teams with losing records
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Rochester and Lewis Cass boys basketball teams closed out last year’s Class 2A, Sectional 37 tournament with an instant classic.
This year, they will open the sectional against each other.
Those were among the revelations of the IHSAA boys basketball draw Sunday night.
The Zebras are the two-time defending sectional champions, but at 10-9, Lewis Cass is the only team in the sectional with a winning record. Of Lewis Cass’ nine losses, only two are to teams with losing records.
Rochester beat Lewis Cass 53-50 in the sectional final last year. Four of Rochester’s starters from that game graduated, but Tarick McGlothin, the starter that didn’t graduate, scored 19 points in that game.
This time they will meet at Winamac at 6 p.m. March 1 in the quarterfinals.
Lewis Cass is seeking their first sectional title since 2014.
The Rochester-Lewis Cass winner will play North Newton, who received a bye, in the semifinals. North Newton is 9-10 but does not have a win over a team with a winning record.
In the other half of the draw, Delphi drew Winamac in the other quarterfinal. Delphi beat Winamac 55-53 in overtime on Jan. 22, but the Oracles have gone only 1-7 since.
Winamac is 8-11 but has lost four in a row. They close out the regular season with home games against Knox Tuesday and Rensselaer Friday.
The Delphi-Winamac winner will play Rensselaer in the semifinals. The Bombers are 8-12 and have lost four in a row going injto road games this week against Lowell and Winamac.
The Vikings are one of three teams in Class 3A, Sectional 21 who have winning records, and all three got put in the same half of the draw.
Valley (13-7), who is coming off a 55-51 win over Class 1A, No. 10 Triton Saturday, will face West Noble (12-8) in the only quarterfinal on March 1 at Wawasee. This will be the first sectional meeting between Valley and West Noble since 2010, even though both teams have been sectional rivals every year since.
West Noble is led by 6-2 junior Austin Cripe, who scored his 1,000th career point earlier this month.
Of West Noble’s 12 wins, only one – a win over Fremont on Jan. 21 – came against a team with a winning record. Valley, meanwhile, has two wins over teams with winning records in the last two weeks. That includes the Triton win and the win at Wabash on Feb. 12.
The Valley-West Noble winner will play No. 5 NorthWood on March 4 in the semifinals. NorthWood, who dropped from No. 1 after losing to South Bend Washington on Saturday, has wins over both Valley and West Noble this season. NorthWood, the two-time defending sectional champion, beat Valley 55-45 on Feb. 15.
In the other half of the draw, Wawasee will play Lakeland in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. March 4. Those teams have a combined record of 12-29.
Caston, the two-time defending sectional champion, received a bye and will play the winner of the Tri-County-North White game in a Class 1A, Sectional 52 semifinal at 6 p.m. March 4 at Tri-County.
North White is ranked No. 6, and they beat Caston 60-57 on Feb. 7. North White and Caston have a combined record of 31-9, and they are the only two teams in the sectional with a winning record.
Caston is 14-6 overall and completed a perfect 7-0 Hoosier North record with a win over LaVille Friday.
Caston edged North White 55-54 on Sam Smith’s bucket at the buzzer in last year’s sectional final.
Both Caston and North White typically start five seniors.
Tri-County is 4-13, including a 77-52 loss to North White on Feb. 15. Caston has knocked Tri-County of the sectional each of the last two years.
In the other half of the draw, Pioneer drew Frontier with the winner to play South Newton in the semifinals. Pioneer is 6-15, but they own a 46-27 win over Frontier on Jan. 7.
South Newton lost to Frontier 40-37 on Dec. 18. The Rebels do not play Pioneer during the regular season. South Newton has not won a sectional game since 2017.
Argos and Triton have met in the Class 1A, Sectional 50 final each of the last three years, and the No. 14 Dragons and No. 11 Trojans could meet in the final again this year.
First, Argos will have to beat West Central (3-16) in a quarterfinal at Triton on March 1. West Central broke a 52-game losing streak earlier this season, but they have not won a sectional game since 2013, and they have not won a sectional title since 2005. Argos beat West Central 83-33 on Feb. 23, 2021 in their most recent meeting.
The West Central-Argos winner will meet LaCrosse, who received a bye, in the semifinals. LaCrosse is 9-9 but does not own a win over a team with a winning record.
Meanwhile, Argos is 13-5.
In the other half of the draw, Trinity Greenlawn drew Triton while Oregon-Davis drew Culver.
Based out of South Bend, Trinity Greenlawn is a newcomer to the IHSAA. Coached by former Lakeland Christian boys coach and former Caston girls coach Joel Burrus, Trinity Greenlawn ranks No. 1 in the state with a 28.6 defensive average. They lost to Triton, however, 33-27 on Feb. 8.
Culver lost to Oregon-Davis 53-52 in Hamlet on Jan. 26. Culver is 6-13 but has gone 3-3 in their last six games. Argos has knocked Culver out of the sectional each of the last three years, but they would not face each other until the final this time.