5 things to watch for Sectional semis and finals should be exciting

Things are heating up in the boys postseason with a full slate of big games tonight and tomorrow to determine who will advance to the regional round of the state tournament and whose season is over. Here are five things to watch for this weekend:

<center> 1. Carroll wants to play spoiler </center>

A lot of area fans are looking forward to a Snider/North Side rematch on Saturday, but Carroll has other plans on their home court. They head into tonight’s meeting with Snider after three straight wins, including surviving an onslaught from long range by East Noble on Tuesday. Carroll is playing well right now and usually does in the postseason under coach Marty Beasley. Their game tonight against Snider could be one to give them momentum toward a sectional title. <br>

<center> 2. If we get North Side/Snider, what adjustments are made? </center> <br>

Would North Side closeout on the Panther shooters, who hit 15 threes in their win over the Legends? Or does North Side come with a similar approach as Snider hasn’t proved to be that consistently proficient from long range since? More important, who guards the big three of Snider’s Malik Williams and North Side’s Jaylen Butz and Keion Brooks Jr.? Emotion will likely fuel this one, so whoever made the biggest adjustments to widen the gap here is probably the favorite to win. Although both teams have had long seasons since their first meeting, it is still fresh in all of their heads. Expect the cooler head to prevail and the real game here to be played in the X’s and O’s of coaches Shabaz Khaliq and Jeremy Rauch. <br>

<center> 3. Woodlan looks to right the ship </center><br>

The Warriors open their sectional play on the wrong side of the numbers, losing their last three games, five of their last eight and with a Churubusco team staring them down that beat Woodlan by 25 points at the beginning of the calendar year. The Warriors have work ahead of them tonight and possibly Saturday if they want more hardware than the ACAC regular season and tournament titles. They also happen to be the last ACAC team standing on sectional Friday and are fighting to give their conference bragging rights. Diversity could be key, so expecting Aaron Hahn, Austin Fancher, Ah’lan Howard and Trevon McCarter to all get involved in tonight’s important game should be expected. <br>

<center> 4. Is Blackhawk still deep enough?</center> <br>

The Braves’ sectional road isn’t the toughest, save for an expected finale with Lakewood Park, but they showed diversity in options on Tuesday in a win over Elkhart Christian. They are going to need to put forth the same game this weekend with a valid first scoring option, a confident Jalan Mull and point guard and consistency inside. They got their scoring outside from Frank Davidson and inside from Kyle Zurbuch on Tuesday. The question is, are there more true options behind those two if they lack the same punch in future games. Depth will become big and potential scorers like Luke Sassmannshausen and Devin Donaldson as well as big man JP Visser will need to be ready when their numbers are called. <br>

<center> 5. Parker Hazen’s big chance</center> <br>

The Eagles got a warm-up game against the NE8’s bottom team in Bellmont for their sectional opener. Was it the right kind of tune-up? Although Jordan Bechtold and Hammad Qureshi have shouldered some offensive loads this year and freshman Mitchell Wilson showed up big time against Bellmont, Columbia City needs senior Parker Hazen to play at the level that made him an Indiana Junior All-Star a season ago. Hazen has the size and raw athleticism to give Norwell fits, and if they make the finals against projected sectional winner Bishop Luers, he will have to be at his very best battling Anton Berry. Anything that Hazen has been saving up this season, now is the best time to unleash it. <br>

<i> Follow Dan Vance on Twitter at danvance </i> <br>