Jan. 28—Pairing with the warming temperatures in Michiana, area girls basketball teams are also heating up as the state postseason series begins this week with sectionals set to begin Tuesday.
The TGN area is granted with four sectionals to pay attention too with one in each class. Northridge hosts the Class 4A sectional while West Noble (3A), Eastside (2A) and Lakewood Park Christian (1A) host the rest of our area teams.
Adding to the drama are the bracket pairings released two weekends ago which wasted no time in giving us exciting matchups to kick things off. Rematches, a title defense and a tricky grouping all are present in the sectional round, adding to the storylines to watch as the action begins this week.
RAIDERS-TIGERS HIGHLIGHTS TUESDAY ACTION
When the area pairings were released Jan. 21, there was one matchup that really stood out: Northridge hosting Warsaw in a revenge-style opportunity for the Raiders.
Whether you're in favor of seeding teams or staying with the status-quo of a random draw (count me as absent on this vote), one team comes out of a sectional either way. So, while Northridge (21-3) and Warsaw (14-7) are likely the top two teams in this sectional, why not give us a championship-type matchup to kick things off?
The Raiders have impressed this season and has depth that rivals the best in northern Indiana. With notable wins over Penn, Norwell, Elkhart and several more, it shows how much Warsaw's 65-52 win over Northridge meant during the regular season.
Now, the locations are switched and the Tigers waltz into Middlebury in a high stake's postseason game Tuesday.
Northridge head coach Doug Springer has seen his team at its best at times this past month, can he get it from them again? If so, a path forward that sees Elkhart awaiting in the semifinals and a possible Penn rematch in the championship would be on the menu for the veteran-led Raiders who score over 60 points a game, giving up just above 37 in the process.
Concord (9-12) vs. Penn (16-6) and Goshen (11-11) vs. the Minutemen/Kingsmen winner, stand as other area teams in the mix hoping to break some brackets along the way.
TRIPLE THREAT IN LIGONIER
Like an old western film, a trio of our area teams have their weapons drawn and pointed at each other in the Class 3A sectional at West Noble.
NorthWood (17-6) holds a win over title-defending Fairfield (21-3). The Falcons meanwhile beat Wawasee (13-9) earlier this season before the Warriors completed the triangle of confusion by beating the Panthers this month.
So, who comes out of this sectional that also includes West Noble (2-20) and Lakeland (4-18)? NorthWood, which gets the matchup with the Chargers in the semifinals, probably has the easiest path to the title game — even without senior guard Joselyn Edwards who was recently lost for the season.
Fairfield gets the bye and awaits the Wawasee-Lakeland winner on Friday. Most of the chips are likely on the Falcons to repeat as sectional champions, but the Warriors have had a fine season under second-year head coach Derek Gilreath.
Is it fair to call anyone the favorite? Probably not, and that's why this sectional may be the most fun of the group.
BETHANY CHRISTIAN HOPEFUL FOR CRITICAL RETURN
Talking to Bethany Christian head coach Krysten Parson following the Bruins hard-fought loss to Fairfield Thursday, she seemed hopeful about her roster going into sectionals week.
Of course, the current injured state of the Bruins has them missing a trio of starters including seniors Mariah Stoltzfus and Eva Horning alongside sophomore Ellie Morris. While Morris is out for the remainder of the 2023-24 campaign, Parson seemed hopeful that Horning and Stoltzfus would be back this postseason if Bethany can stay in the competition.
Fortunately, the Bruins were slid into the semifinals during the bracket reveal. Even more so, they were matched up with the only team in the field (Hamilton) to not have double-digits wins this season (3-12).
With that game on Friday, Parson could see Stoltzfus (who works as a lethal 1-2 combo with fellow senior guard Zoe Willems) possibly return in time for that game or the sectional championship on Saturday if the Bruins were able to get there.
It would be quite the story for Parson's group. After making it to the state finals last season, the team has looked much different but succeeded all the same before the injuries depleted the lineup. Will time be on the Bruins side to get them stronger at the last minute?
TUESDAY'S AREA SECTIONAL SCHEDULE
Class 4A Sectional 4 at Northridge: Northridge (21-3) vs. Warsaw (14-7), 6 p.m.
Class 4A Sectional 4 at Northridge: Concord (9-12) vs. Penn (16-6), approx. 7:30 p.m.
Class 3A Sectional 19 at West Noble: Wawasee (13-9) vs. Lakeland (4-18), 7 p.m.
Class 2A Sectional 35 at Eastside: Churubusco (5-17) vs. Westview (4-18), 6 p.m.
FRIDAY'S AREA SECTIONAL SCHEDULE
Class 4A Sectional 4 at Northridge: Northridge/Warsaw vs. Elkhart (13-9), 6 p.m.
Class 4A Sectional 4 at Northridge: Concord/Penn vs. Goshen (11-11), approx. 7:30 p.m.
Class 3A Sectional 19 at West Noble: NorthWood (17-6) vs. West Noble (2-20), 6 p.m.
Class 3A Sectional 19 at West Noble: Wawasee/Lakeland vs. Fairfield (21-3), approx. 7:30 p.m.
Class 2A Sectional 35 at Eastside: Churubusco/Westview vs. Fremont (14-8), 6 p.m.
Class 1A Sectional 51 at Lakewood Park Christian: Bethany Christian (16-6) vs. Hamilton (3-12), 6 p.m.
Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at email@example.com.