TERRE HAUTE —
Joe Boehler is trying to make the cliché come true.
Pundits say that high school basketball postseason play is a new season and that’s almost literally true for Boehler’s West Vigo team, which will have been idle for 13 days and have played just one game in 22 days when the Vikings get back in action Friday night at the Class 3A Greencastle Sectional.
“We see [the time off] as an advantage,” Boehler said recently. “We used our time to get back to basics and focus on ourselves again.” And if that means this week is the start of a new season, that’s all right with the Vikings; they opened the year with five straight wins.
“It would be nice to go 5-0 right now, wouldn’t it?” Boehler said.
A long winning streak is what every boys basketball coach and every boys basketball player in Indiana is hoping for starting today, and there’s potential for surprises and excitement in at least four of the five tournaments in the Wabash Valley.
Class 4A play is at Northview, where Terre Haute North’s Patriots are defending champions and might be considered the favorites — if Martinsville and Mooresville didn’t have a combined record of 35-5, that is.
That those two teams are in the opposite bracket from the Patriots is a reason to think North could repeat as champion — and to think that Terre Haute South has the toughest way to go.
“We’ve got what’s supposed to be a tough draw,” coach Scott Ridge of the Braves admitted, “but you have to beat the good teams to win anyway. Right now we can’t be looking at anything but Martinsville [in today’s 6 p.m. opener] … but I think we’re playing our best [right now], and that’s the way you want to be.”
North and the host Knights, who haven’t played each other in nearly three months, play tonight’s second game, and coach Ernie Maesch of Northview likes the fact that the game is on the Knights’ court.
“We play a lot better at home, and we shoot better at home,” he said. “Terre Haute North has played great competition and they’re playing well. We have to find a way to score against their defense, take care of the basketball and stay with them on the glass.”
“Our sectional is always very competitive,” coach Todd Woelfle of the Patriots noted. “Every year there seems to be a surprise. We just hope to be playing our best basketball.”
Mooresville waits for the winner of South and Martinsville on Friday, with the North-Northview winner taking on Plainfield.
West Vigo’s task at Greencastle figures to be interesting because none of the six teams has an outstanding record — the host Tiger Cubs, 12-8, are the only team over .500 — and five of the six teams in the field have beaten at least two other possible sectional foes.
“I think it’s wide open,” Boehler said, and that is probably an understatement.
The best two records in the Wabash Valley belong to two teams at the Class 2A North Knox Sectional, where Sullivan is 20-2 with a seven-game winning streak and Eastern Greene is 20-1 with 20 wins in a row.
The two co-favorites are in opposite brackets, and Sullivan has a first-round bye before facing either Linton or Bloomfield. Linton’s last regular-season game was a competitive one against Sullivan but, as coach Joey Hart of the Miners said that night, “We’ve got an awfully good Bloomfield team [that beat Linton 85-72 early in the year] waiting for us before [a rematch with the Golden Arrows].”
Class A’s White River Valley Sectional is similar to the Greencastle tournament, except with better records. Three of the five teams in the field have been ranked in the state’s top 10 at some point during the season, and have taken turns beating each other.
“It’s got a chance to be one of the better sectionals,” coach Vance Edmondson of Clay City said recently. “Quality teams, and anybody can beat anybody on a given night. It should be a lot of fun.”
The one sure sectional favorite seems to be Rockville at the Class A North Vermillion Sectional. Not only have the Rox won three of the last four sectionals there, they’re also ranked in the top 10 in the state and are 8-0 against potential sectional opponents.
“We’ve played [the Rox] three times, and they’re definitely one of the best teams in 1A,” said coach Charlie Martin of Riverton Parke, Rockville’s first-round opponent. “They’re the favorite, probably not only in the sectional but in the regional.”
Indiana boys basketball sectionals
Terre Haute South (8-14) vs. Martinsville (18-2), 6 p.m., followed by Terre Haute North (16-6) vs. Northview (8-13)
Mooresville (17-3) vs. South-Martinsville winner, 6 p.m., followed by Plainfield (1-19) vs. North-Northview winner
South Vermillion (5-16) vs. Edgewood (6-14), 6 p.m., followed by Greencastle (12-8) vs. Brown County (9-11)
West Vigo (11-11) vs. South Vermillion-Edgewood winner, 6 p.m., followed by Owen Valley (8-13) vs. Greencastle-Brown County winner
At North Knox
Linton (12-9) vs. Bloomfield (11-11), 6:30 p.m.
Eastern Greene (20-1) vs. North Knox (7-15), 6 p.m., followed by South Knox (6-15) vs. North Central (6-15)
Sullivan (20-2) vs. Linton-Bloomfield winner, 6 p.m., followed by Wednesday’s winners
At White River Valley
Eminence (7-13) vs. White River Valley (14-7), 7 p.m.
Clay City (13-8) vs. Union (4-17), 6 p.m., followed by Shakamak (14-8) vs. Eminence-White River Valley winner
At North Vermillion
North Vermillion (9-11) vs. Turkey Run (4-17), 6 p.m., followed by Riverton Parke (11-10) vs. Rockville (16-5)
Covington (9-11) vs. North Vermillion-Turkey Run winner, 6 p.m., followed by Attica (13-7) vs. Riverton Parke-Rockville winner
All championship games Saturday