Rochester, Culver receive sectional byes
Caston, Pioneer in opposite halves of Sectional 52 draw; Valley gets familiar foe in Wawasee
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
If the Rochester boys basketball team gets their chance to avenge their lone regular season loss to Lewis Cass, it would occur in the sectional final, according to the IHSAA draw released Sunday night.
But first they will enjoy a bye.
And before Lewis Cass can think about another game against Rochester, the Kings must first beat the team that knocked them out of last year’s sectional.
The other RTC area team to receive a bye was Culver, who will await the winner between Argos and LaCrosse in Class 1A, Sectional 50.
Meanwhile, Caston and Pioneer were placed in opposite halves of their bracket, making it possible they could meet in the final for the second straight year.
As for Tippecanoe Valley, they will face Wawasee in the sectional just four days after their regular season meeting.
Rochester, who improved to 15-1 overall and clinched a Three Rivers Conference title share with their eighth straight conference win when they beat Peru Friday, drew a bye for the second straight year.
RHS will await the winner of the Delphi-North Newton game in the semifinals of Class 2A, Sectional 37 at Delphi.
The Delphi-North Newton game will be a rematch of a Jan. 16 game that North Newton won 55-43. North Newton has already won 12 games, their most since 2006. Now they will try to win their first sectional game since 2006.
Regardless of whether it’s Delphi or North Newton, Rochester’s opponent will be relatively unfamiliar. The Zebras haven’t played North Newton since a 59-48 win in the 2013 sectional, and they haven’t played Delphi since a 51-40 loss in the 2004 regional semifinals at North Judson.
Rochester received a bye in last year’s sectional before winning their first sectional in 11 years.
In the other half of the draw, Winamac drew Lewis Cass in what will be the teams’ fourth meeting in the last two seasons. Lewis Cass topped Winamac 48-41 in their regular season meeting on Feb. 13.
That was their first meeting since Winamac knocked Lewis Cass out of last year’s sectional 88-74.
The Lewis Cass-Winamac winner will face Rensselaer in the semifinals. Rensselaer (10-9) has gone 8-2 since a 2-7 start.
Valley will play Wawasee in a Class 3A, Sectional 21 quarterfinal at West Noble.
Their sectional meeting will occur just four days after their regular season meeting at Valley at 7:45 p.m. this Friday.
This will be the eighth meeting between Valley and Wawasee in the sectional since 2011. Valley holds a 4-3 advantage in the previous seven meetings, including a 43-31 on Wawasee’s home floor in the 2019 sectional final.
Valley also beat Wawasee on their way to a sectional title in 2013.
The Valley-Wawasee winner will play defending sectional champion NorthWood in the semifinals. NorthWood already owns wins over both Valley and Wawasee, including a 76-39 rout of Valley at the Panther Pit on Wednesday.
In the other half of the five-team draw, Lakeland will meet West Noble in a semifinal. West Noble beat Lakeland 58-54 on Jan. 8.
Every team in Sectional 21 has lost to another team in the sectional at some point during the season.
Caston will play South Newton in a sectional game for the first time in 10 years while Pioneer will play Frontier in a sectional game for the first time in 20 years when Class 1A, Sectional 52 starts at Tri-County on March 2.
It could be said that Caston and South Newton are in losing funks. Caston has lost six straight to drop to 6-15. South Newton (4-12) started 3-2 but has gone 1-10 since.
Neither Caston nor South Newton owns a win over a team with a winning record.
Caston and South Newton have not met in a postseason game since a 60-36 Caston win in the 2011 sectional. That South Newton team finished 0-23.
The Caston-South Newton winner will face Tri-County, who received a bye, in the semifinals. Tri-County is 3-13 and has lost eight straight, including a 30-28 loss to South Newton on Jan. 29.
In the other half of the draw, Pioneer drew Frontier in their quarterfinal game. This will be their first meeting since a 58-44 Pioneer win on Jan. 10, 2020. Their scheduled meeting this year was canceled.
Frontier (6-9) has already doubled their win total from last season, but none of their wins have come against a team with a winning record.
The Pioneer-Frontier winner will play North White in the semifinals. North White (12-8), the only team with a winning record in the sectional, owns wins over both Pioneer and Frontier during the regular season.
The win over Pioneer occurred Saturday by a 55-45 score.
Argos and LaCrosse have not met since the 1986-87 season, which was Phil Weybright’s last season as Argos coach.
They will meet again 34 years later in a Class 1A, Sectional 50 quarterfinal at Culver. This is believed to be the schools’ first ever postseason meeting.
LaCrosse is 4-14 and currently on a three-game losing streak. None of the Tigers’ four wins is against a team with a winning record.
Argos, meanwhile, is 15-4 and currently on a seven-game winning streak, including a 51-39 win over Triton Saturday.
The Argos-LaCrosse winner will play the host Cavaliers in the semifinals on Friday. Argos has already beaten Culver twice this season, including a 55-29 win at John R. Nelson Gymnasium on Jan. 22 in the Bi-County Tournament consolation round and a 42-32 win on the same floor on Feb. 11 in the Bell game.
Argos has won the last nine meetings with Culver, including sectional games in 2019 and 2020.
In the other half of the draw, Triton drew West Central with the winner to play Oregon-Davis.
Triton beat West Central 82-34 in last year’s sectional, and they beat Oregon-Davis 83-55 in their regular season meeting earlier this year.
West Central has lost 44 consecutive games dating back to February 2019.
Boys basketball draw notes
Sectionals will be held statewide from March 2-6. Regionals are March 13, semistates are March 20, and the IHSAA state finals will be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on April 3.
Sectional tickets will be $6 and will be available for single games only. All-sectional tickets will not be sold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Regional tickets will be $8 and will be available for single games only. All-regional tickets will not be sold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Regional sites include New Castle (3A), Lapel (2A) and Triton (1A).
Semistate sites include Lafayette Jeff and Elkhart Northside Gym. Semistate tickets will be $10 and will be available for single games only.
The IHSAA has instituted a two-week gap between the semistates and state finals for this year only. The NCAA Tournament will occupy Bankers Life Fieldhouse on the last Saturday in March, the traditional state finals day.
In an interview with the IHSAA Champions Network Sunday, IHSAA commissioner Paul Neidig said it’s possible that the state finals schedule could be altered to allow for greater social distancing. The girls basketball state finals schedule was altered with a game moving to Friday night – specifically the 2A game between Tipton and Linton-Stockton – to allow for a thorough cleaning of Bankers Life Fieldhouse between games.