SECTIONAL DRAW NOTEBOOK: North Side to be waiting awhile; First things first for Blackhawk
If North Side looks a tad rusty when it opens postseason play on March 2, it will be for good reason.
The Legends found out Sunday during the sectional draw for the IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament that they will face the winner of DeKalb and Snider on the Friday of sectional week at East Noble. That means North will go 14 days between games after concluding its regular-season schedule last Friday.
“I don’t like it,” said North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq about the layoff. “We have been working to get (a final week game), but have been unsuccessful.”
Khaliq points to the refusal of most non-conference area teams to schedule the Legends this late in the season as the reason for the lack of games. North Side (18-5) will enter the postseason playing just three games in the month of February.
“We would rather be playing,” said Khaliq, who pointed out that his team played 11 games in the month of December. “I thought we were playing some of our best basketball in December. We got a little bit of a lay-off after that. With plenty of practice time, it can be tough to keep the kids engaged.”
The Legends will have to be engaged if they are going to win a second-consecutive sectional crown. DeKalb and Snider both played North Side well in the regular season, with one of them advancing to play the Legends in the sectional semifinal.
A lack of fundamental play cost North Side a shot at the SAC title and will cost it again in the postseason if certain things like blocking out and consistent defensive intensity aren’t present.
“I have told our guys all year that we can do things that no other team can do, but we refuse to do the things that every team can do,” Khaliq said. “If we pay attention to detail, the things other teams cannot do that we can will set us apart.”
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Blackhawk Christian has been heralded as one of the favorites in Class 1A all season long. But as the postseason looms a little more than a week away, the Braves need to achieve the first step in that quest first.
Many forget that the Braves did not win a sectional last season, the first time in four years that Blackhawk did not advance to the regional round.
With games against Northrop and Smith Academy this week, it is all about the details for Coach Marc Davidson and his squad.
“We have been talking to our guys about details,” Davidson said. “We are at the stage of the season where we want to be great at the little things, and that is something we continue to emphasize.”
It has been an exceptional regular season for the Braves, who stand at 19-2 overall and are ranked No. 2 in Class 1A. They will open up the playoffs against Bethany Christian (3-17) a week from Wednesday at Hamilton.
TWO FOR ONE
The Wayne Generals got a solid draw for the Class 4A Huntington North Sectional in that its first two games are against mirror images of one another.
Coach Aaron Rehrer’s squad will open postseason play against Jay County a week from Tuesday. If victorious, Wayne will take on Huntington North in the first semifinal on Friday.
Both teams play similar styles centering around the motion offense and sound defense. Jay County and Huntington are each allowing less than 44 points per game. Coach Craig Teagle, in his third season at Huntington, is the former coach of Jay County.
“We were talking about that (Sunday) how they are similar teams,” Rehrer said. “We haven’t seen Jay County play a ton, but we know they played Homestead tough on Saturday.”
The Generals (13-6) recently beat Huntington North in overtime, a game that Wayne led by double digits before being taken past regulation. But Rehrer liked what he saw against the Vikings and hopes it will be more of the same in the postseason.
“We played the best half of team defense we have all year against Huntington North with that motion (offense),” Rehrer said.
Wayne will play twice this week, with road games at Canterbury on Tuesday and at Richmond on Friday.
With a winning percentage of .604, the sectional field at East Noble is the strongest in the area in terms of that statistic. Hamilton (.364) is the weakest in the area … Entering the postseason, Bluffton leads area schools with 31 sectional titles, followed by Columbia City (30), South Side (29) and North Side (26).