HANCOCK COUNTY — The routes to tournament titles are in place.
On Sunday, the Indiana High School Athletic Association announced pairings for the first two weeks (sectional and regional tournaments) of the 48th Annual IHSAA Girls Basketball State Tournament.
Mt. Vernon (15-6) is the defending champion in Class 4A Sectional 9. The Marauders have the best record in the seven-team tournament and were drawn the bye for the second straight year.
They’ll watch the other six teams play before their first game, which will be the first of two semi-finals on Feb. 3 at Mt. Vernon High School.
“We’re in a good spot (with the bye), have it at home and have a lot of good things going for us, but you still have to play,” Mt. Vernon coach Julie Shelton said. “I love my girls and it’s nice to have the bye, but everyone has to play. It’s one game and you’re done, so you better be on and ready to go.”
The tournament was scheduled to be played at Pendleton Heights, but flood damage to the school’s basketball court forced the week-long event to find another home.
The sectional opens Tuesday, Jan. 31 with the teams owning the second- and third-best records playing the lone game at 6 p.m. Greenfield-Central (12-9) plays Pendleton Heights (13-8) with the winner meeting the host Marauders on Friday.
On the other half of the bracket, New Palestine is the only team with a .500 record. The 10-10 Dragons play the first of two games on Wednesday Feb. 1. They’ll take on Richmond (6-14) prior to the Muncie Central (5-15) vs. Anderson (6-13) contest. Wednesday’s winners play the second semifinal on Friday.
The championship game is at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4.
Mt. Vernon is 5-0 against sectional opponents. Pendleton Heights is 3-1, with the lone loss coming to Mt. Vernon in December.
In Class 2A Sectional 42, the projected championship game will be played on opening night.
On Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Triton Central High School, Eastern Hancock (17-3) takes on host Triton Central (16-4).
They are the five-team tournament’s best two teams.
Indianapolis Scecina (11-9) is the only other team with a winning record, but they lost 64-25 to Triton Central in December. Both Riverside (2-13) and Irvington (1-9) have struggled.
Eastern Hancock defeated Triton Central 56-34 in early November. Both teams were not at full strength. The Tigers have bounced back since the loss and have won 14 of their last 15, with the lone loss being a one-pointer at Class 4A Kokomo.
Eastern Hancock is having a great season. Of their three losses two are by just one point, the other was a five-point decision early in the year at Class 3A Rushville.
They’ve won eight straight and are looking for the program’s first outright conference title since 1999 when they host Randolph Southern tonight. The Royals are 8-0 in the Mid-Eastern Conference.
A year ago, the Royals and Tigers went three overtimes in a sectional semifinal game. Eastern Hancock won 66-65, but lost in the final to Heritage Christian, in Class 3A this season.
Eastern Hancock coach Shari Doud said her team was excited when the IHSAA’s webcast showed pairings for Sectional 42,renewing the long-time rivalry between the Royals and Tigers.
It’ll be the fifth straight year the teams have met in the post season and seventh time in the last eight.
“They are, across the board, a really sound team, but we feel like we are, too,” Doud said. “We have what we need to do to counter them, on the flip side, they have things to counter us. It’ll be a war.”
The Tuesday game at Triton Central is the only first-round game of the tournament. The winner will play in the second semifinal Friday against Irvington. Scecina and Riverside play in the semifinal opener Friday. The championship is Saturday at 7 p.m.
Along with the sectional draw, the IHSAA announced pairings for first-round regional games to be played on Saturday, Feb. 11. Unlike recent years, the regional is a single-game championship. The semi-state becomes a two-game tournament that will take place on Feb. 18.
The winner of the Mt. Vernon Sectional will play the winner of the Southport Sectional at 4 p.m. at Decatur Central High School. The Southport Sectional is also a seven-team tournament that includes, Southport, Ben Davis, Perry Meridian, Franklin Central, Decatur Central, Roncalli and Pike.
The winner of the Triton Central Sectional will play the winner of the University Sectional at Southmont High School at 1 p.m. The University tournament includes just four teams, University, Sheridan, Park Tudor and Covenant Christian.
2023 IHSAA Girls Basketball Sectional Pairings
Class 4A Sectional 9 (at Mt. Vernon High School)
Tuesday, Jan. 31
G1: Greenfield-Central (12-9) vs. Pendleton Heights (13-8), 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 1
G2: New Palestine (10-10) vs. Richmond (6-14), 6 p.m.
G3: Muncie Central (5-15) vs. Anderson (6-13), 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 3
G4: Mt. Vernon (15-6) vs. Winner of G1, 6 p.m.
G5: Winner of G3 vs. Winner of G3, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 4
Championship: Winner of G4 vs. Winner of G5, 7 p.m.
Class 2A Sectional 42 (at Triton Central High School)
Tuesday, Jan. 31
G1: Eastern Hancock (17-3) vs. Triton Central (16-4), 7 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 3
G2: Indianapolis Scecina (11-9) vs. Riverside (2-13), 6 p.m.
G3: Irvington (1-9) vs. Winner of G1, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 4
Championship: Winner of G2 vs. Winner of G3, 7 p.m.