FORT WAYNE – The motto for this years girls basketball regionals could easily be here we go again as the fields involving northeast Indiana teams are filled with familiarity and parity. The seven area teams that won repeat sectional titles last week and advanced to the regional will know a lot about their opponents and vice versa.
In two of the regionals, the Class 3A field at Bellmont and the Class A at Caston, all four teams return. Bellmont gets back defending state champion Concordia, Norwell, NorthWood and Hamilton Heights, while Caston has defending state champ Canterbury, Morgan Township, Oregon-Davis and West Central.
Norwell coach Eric Thornton said this years Bellmont Regional field is as wide open as last year, evidenced by the rankings – No. 2 Hamilton Heights, No. 3 NorthWood, No. 5 Norwell and No. 11 Concordia. Last year, the four teams were all ranked in the top seven in the state.
From a fans standpoint, you are looking at that and saying there are four really good teams, and this is the best regional in the state without a doubt, Thornton said. Any of the four teams could say, We have a shot at this. Whoever wins it will have really earned it. I dont think the draw really matters in this deal.
At the Class A regional at Tri-Central, three of the four teams are back from a year ago in Southern Wells, Lafayette Central Catholic and Randolph Southern. And the Class 4A field at Kokomo has two teams returning in Snider and South Side.
In the case of Caston, unlike the other regionals around the area, it will be the same matchups in the first round as last year, with the top-ranked Cavaliers playing West Central and No. 2 Oregon-Davis and Morgan Township in the other semifinal. The Cavaliers beat Oregon-Davis in the regional finals last year and went on to win their fourth state championship in five years.
It has almost been a tradition the four teams have shown up at the regional level, said first-year Canterbury coach Wayne Kreiger, who was an assistant for the team last year under his son Scott. People anticipate you being there. It comes down to the fact that in our areas, each of us have pretty strong programs. It can be a Catch-22 if you anticipate we know this squad, and you overlook them, that is the bad part about it. Knowing the teams there are formidable is a good thing. If you allow yourself to get caught up in we beat this team last year, and we are the same team it can be a detriment.
Although only Snider and South Side are returning to Kokomo, the regional has been known to be one of the toughest in 4A and produced the state champion last year in Indianapolis North Central, which beat Snider in the regional finals.
This year, Logansport is ranked No. 4, Westfield No. 10, South Side No. 11 and Snider No. 16.
Its tough, said South Side coach Juanita Goodwell, whose team lost in the semifinals to Snider last year. We know last year we were definitely in one of the toughest regionals in the state.
This goes to show that our state champions come out of our regional area. Theres a strong potential that things could be said about this years regional as well. All the teams are quality teams and have strong leadership.