SIAC can prove strength in postseason

When I called several area coaches to get their thoughts on the postseason boys’ basketball pairings released Sunday, I was fed the typical lines these stories yield. Most were some variation of the following:

“Basketball in this area is so tough, we’re going to have to be playing good basketball no matter who we’re matched up against. … The sectional is wide open. Every team is capable.”

These comments are predictable and safe; no coach is going to insult a future opponent. But they’re also true for Southern Indiana Athletic Conference schools — and the area teams that will be playing them in the postseason.

According to John Harrell’s Indiana High School Basketball website, the SIAC has the best nonconference record of any league in the state, at 63-21. The Big Eight is 52-51 in nonconference play, while the Pocket Athletic Conference is 50-59.

This is solid proof of the SIAC’s strength this season, but it doesn’t account for difficulty of schedule. The Sagarin ratings, which are broken down by conference here, do.

With this metric, the SIAC is still one of the deepest leagues in the state. The Metropolitan Conference, home of the big-school powerhouses in Indianapolis, has eight teams in the Sagarin top 100. The Hoosier Crossroads Conference has seven, and the SIAC, the Northern Indiana Conference and Duneland Conference have six each.

That puts the SIAC among the elite conferences in the state, and the league concentrated in the Evansville area will have the opportunity to flex its muscles in the postseason.

The SIAC is guaranteed a regional qualifier in the 4A sectional at North High School, as all five teams are conference members.

In the 3A Princeton Sectional, three-time defending champion Bosse (12-6) is considered the favorite with fellow SIAC team Memorial (12-6) and Princeton (15-6) the toughest challengers.

The final SIAC team, Mater Dei (11-8), is part of a balanced 2A sectional at Boonville.

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll see if the SIAC can carry its regular-season strength into tournament season.




Leftover thoughts from Bosse-Harrison

What a game.

With first place on the line in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference, the Bosse and Harrison High School boys’ basketball teams turned in a classic. Bulldogs senior Perry Fairrow slashed to the basket for the game-winning layup with 0.5 seconds left in double overtime, finally giving Bosse the 89-88 victory.

Due to time and space limitations in finishing up the print product, I wasn’t quite able to unload all of my thoughts in the initial story, which can be read here.

I won’t do a post like this for every game, but this showdown certainly deserves some extra reflection.

— I didn’t mention Bosse senior Jeremy Martin in my story (the list of heroes on both sides was too long), but he had an outstanding game. The 5-foot-8 point guard finished with 10 points and seven assists and — along with Bo Burkhart — kept the Bulldogs in the game until Bryson Johnson and Fairrow got going in the second half.

— The high-scoring, back-and-forth nature of the game was incredibly entertaining to watch, which was noted by both coaches afterward. Not one player shied from the big moment, and numerous clutch baskets were hit by both teams. When a game goes to two overtimes, there are plenty of opportunities for what seem like game-saving or game-winning shots.

“It’s neither team wanting to lose and it’s big-time players from each team understanding the moment and their role and understanding we want the ball in their hands,” Bosse coach Shane Burkhart said.

I usually root for games to end as quickly as possible so I can write comfortably on deadline, but I could’ve watched that spectacle all night.

— That was my first time seeing the Duncan brothers play (I worked in North Dakota for two years before joining the Courier & Press last week). They’re as good as advertised.

Engelhardt’s AP boys’ basketball poll

Here is my boys’ basketball ballot for this week. The complete poll, which includes sportswriters and broadcasters from around the state, appeared in Tuesday’s Courier & Press

Class 4A
1. Carmel
2. Hamilton SE
3. Indy Tech
4. FW North
5. Brownsburg
6. Indy Cathedral
7. Penn
8. Columbus N.
9. Lake Central
10. Reitz

Class 3A
1. Greensburg
2. Bowman Academy
3. Guerin Cath.
4. Corydon
5. New Haven
6. NorthWood
7. Indy Brebeuf
8. Madison
9. Brownstown
10. Southridge
Class 2A
1. Clarksville
2. Indy Park Tudor
3. Hammond Noll
4. Wapahani
5. Indy Scecina
6. Frankton
7. Cloverdale
8. Crawford County
9. Cass
10. Union County

Class A
1. Barr-Reeve
2. Covington
3. Kouts
4. Elkhart Chr.
5. Laf. Cen Cath.
6. Orleans
7. Mich City Marq.
8. Christian Academy
9. Borden
10. Rossville

–Gordon Engelhardt

Maners: Castle will have ‘hands full’ with Bedford

By Daniel Allar

Central High School girls’ basketball coach Brittany Maners knows firsthand how good Castle is.

She is also pretty familiar with Bedford North Lawrence’s stacked roster, having been an assistant on last year’s Class 4A state championship squad.

The Knights (12-8) play BNL (23-1) at 11 a.m. CST Saturday at the Columbus North Regional, and Maners offered this insight following Castle’s 61-60 win over Central in the sectional final.

“I would expect Castle to go in and fight as hard as they did tonight, but Bedford has a lot of weapons and when you play them it’s really about picking your poison,” Maners said Saturday. “I wish them the best of luck but they’re gonna have their hands full up there.”

Maners’ endorsement of the Stars shouldn’t be considered a slight to Castle; it’s an acknowledgement of BNL’s star-studded lineup.

The Stars, who destroyed Jeffersonville 70-36 in their sectional championship, have three juniors committed to Division I programs: 5-foot-7 guard Alexa Bailey (Butler, 7.3 ppg), 6-2 forward Dominique McBryde (Purdue, 15.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and 6-3 center Jenna Allen (Indiana, 15.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg).

Senior Brittany Rizzi, a 5-foot-7 sharpshooter, was once committed to the University of Evansville but later decommitted. Of her 74 made field goals this season, 69 are from 3-point range, according to

Class 3A Boonville girls’ basketball sectional semis pushed to Saturday

Boonville’s Class 3A sectional was among three area girls’ tournaments pushed back to Saturday.
Princeton had approximately four inches of snow on Friday.
“They let out school early, between 1 and 1:30 (p.m.) and several buses slid off the road,” said Princeton coach Charlie Mair.
However, he said no one was injured.
No. 2 Mater Dei (21-1) will meet Bosse (13-7) at 10 a.m. Saturday in the first semifinal. No. 1 Princeton (21-0) will face Memorial (8-12) at noon in the second semifinal. The championship game is scheduled for 8 p.m.
The 3A sectional at Vincennes Lincoln and Class A sectional at Wood Memorial were also postponed. The host Alices (10-11) will face Mitchell (8-10) at 9 a.m. CST in the 3A Vincennes Lincoln semis. Southridge (14-5) and No. 9 Washington (17-3) will follow at 11 a.m. The title game is slated for 7 p.m.
Northeast Dubois (13-7) and Cannelton (3-15) will play at 9:30 a.m. CST in the first semifinal at Wood Memorial. The host Trojans (12-9) will battle Tecumseh (10-10) at 11:30 in the other semifinal. The championship is scheduled for 7 p.m.
In addition, Vincennes Lincoln boys’ basketball coach and athletic director Jeff Hein noted that the Heritage Hills at Vincennes Lincoln boys’ game will be pushed back two hours to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, CST.

Bosse’s Crutcher selects Marian College

Bosse High School senior running back Carrington Crutcher made an oral commitment Saturday to play football for Marian University, a NAIA school in Indianapolis.
He was also considering NAIA Georgetown, Ky., and NCAA Division III Franklin College.
Crutcher, who was named all-Metro Player of the Year, gained 2,025 yards on 242 attempts, an 8.4 average, including 30 touchdowns. He caught 23 passes for 364 yards and two additional scores.

–Gordon Engelhardt

Central’s Martin has grown as a player, leader

Kourtlandt Martin’s quickness and overall athleticism made college scouts drool. But Central High School boys’ basketball coach Scott Hudson said the mercurial point guard has grown immensely over the past few years in several ways, on and off the court.

“Kourtlandt is an outstanding competitor who has a passion for the game,” Hudson said. “Kourtlandt’s drive and work ethic to get better each day is what impresses me the most. He has not only grown as a player in our program, he has grown as a person, a student and a leader.”

Martin and Bosse’s Perry Fairrow have made oral commitments to join forces next season at Rend Lake, a junior college in Ina, Ill. Fairrow leads the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference in scoring with a 27.4 average. Martin is fourth in scoring (18.3) and fourth in assists (4.0).

–Gordon Engelhardt

Boys’ and girls’ postponement dates

As you are probably aware, virtually all boys’ and girls’ basketball games Tuesday have been postponed.
The Mount Vernon at Central boys’ game has been rescheduled for Feb. 20 while the Robinson, Ill., at Castle game has been moved to Feb. 12.
The Castle at Memorial girls’ game has been postponed to Feb. 10. The Webster County at Memorial game on Monday was canceled.

–Gordon Engelhardt