The Times file photo // Ange Gnamkey leads Sheridan into the Class 2A Sectional 40 bracket at Lapel. The Blackhawks drew a bye and await the winner of the Monroe Central vs. No. 4 Frankton first-round game.
The Times file photo // Ange Gnamkey leads Sheridan into the Class 2A Sectional 40 bracket at Lapel. The Blackhawks drew a bye and await the winner of the Monroe Central vs. No. 4 Frankton first-round game.

The 108th annual IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament tips off Tuesday at 64 sectional locations around Indiana.

Four hundred three teams will participate in this year’s tournament, with sectional championships scheduled for Saturday. The regional round is slated for March 10
and semi-states for March 17. The four state championship games will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 24 — but a lot needs to be settled on the court before then.

About the Draw


To conduct the random drawing for the tournament, the IHSAA places ping-pong balls that represent each school in a sectional into a lottery-style air mix machine, an IHSAA press release explains. A motorized fan in the bottom of the machine blows the balls around the inside of the transparent container and air then forces each ball up through a tube in random order. The first ball retrieved from the machine is the visiting team — the second ball is the home team.

In the Associated Press poll, Class 4A No. 1 Warren Central Warriors hosts Indianapolis Arsenal Technical in the second game of Sectional 10. Class 3A’s top-ranked team, the New Castle Trojans, plays Hamilton Heights in the Sectional 24 opening game. In Class 2A, the No. 1 Covington Trojans drew a bye into the semifinal round in Sectional 38 at Fountain Central and will await the Delphi-Clinton Prairie winner. Class A No. 2 University also drew a bye in Sectional 58 at Bethesda Christian. The Trailblazers will take on the International-Bethesda Christian winner in the semis. Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, which claimed their fourth state title a year ago, will meet Brebeuf Jesuit in the first round of Class A Sectional 27 hosted by Guerin Catholic.

What should be one of the most competitive brackets — Class 4A Sectional 8 — will take place right here in Noblesville. The six-team grouping includes No. 12 Carmel (15-7), No. 16 Hamilton Southeastern (17-7), host-school Noblesville (10-13), Westfield (10-12), Fishers (11-10) and Anderson (10-13).

Southeastern and Fishers drew the byes and will await the winners of the Carmel-Westfield and Noblesville-Anderson games, respectively.

Noblesville

Season recap: Noblesville experienced an up-and-down season that featured a few unexpected turns along the way. High points for the Millers included a season-long three game winning streak with double-digit victories over Hamilton Heights, Westfield and their first-round sectional opponent Anderson, and a 96-point output in a win over Indianapolis Lighthouse East in their holiday tournament at The Mill.

Noblesville struggled down the stretch, losing nine of its last 12 games, but did end the season with a win at Perry Meridian. The Millers cold stretch started around early January and coincided with the loss of junior forward Zack Johnson to injury. Johnson returned Feb. 16 and led the Millers in scoring in two of their final three games.

Noblesville is also dealing with the recent suspensions of six players and a seventh player being kicked off the team by the school. The IHSAA suspended the Noblesville players, along with two players from Hamilton Heights, last week for playing in basketball games at the Noblesville Boys & Girls Club, a rule violation. Noblesville didn’t comment on which players were involved, although five of the Millers’ top six scorers, and four of their usual starters, misses two games.

Several of the players returned in the season finale, and Noblesville Schools Director of Communication Marnie Cooke told The Times the school is waiting to hear from the IHSAA on eligibility for Tuesday’s game against Anderson. Junior Xavier Hines led the Millers in scoring at (13 points per game, senior Ryan Barnes led the team on the glass (4.6 rebounds) and junior Jordan Schmidt dished out a team-high 2.7 assists per contest.

Sectional outlook: Noblesville (10-13) will play Anderson (10-13) in the opening-game of the Class 4A Sectional 8 bracket at Noblesville. The game is scheduled to tip at 6 p.m., and, according to Jeff Sagarin's Indiana High School Boys Basketball Ratings, the Indians are about a 3.5-point favorite.

Noblesville defeated Anderson 62-49 in the teams’ only regular season meeting Dec. 9 at Anderson. Seniors Marquavius Beverly, 11, and JoMel Boyd, 10, led the Tribe in scoring. Hines dropped a game-high 29. If Noblesville wants a repeat performance of the first matchup, the Millers will need to once again contain Boyd, who is Anderson’s leading scorer at 12.1 points per game.

Both teams went 2-6 against common opponents during the regular season. Anderson is 3-7 on the road, while Noblesville is 6-5 at home.
If the Millers defeat the Indians, they’ll play Fishers (11-10) Friday at 6 p.m. The Millers defeated the Tigers in their lone matchup.

Westfield

After a back-and-forth start, Westfield started to find its groove toward the end of the season. The Shamrocks won four of their final six game, including three straight over potential second-round sectional opponent No. 16 Hamilton Southeastern, Hamilton Heights and Western Boone. A hard-fought win at Kokomo on Feb. 17 was sandwiched between a loss to Class 3A No. 1 New Castle and Mt. Vernon. 

One of Westfield has struggled with this season is scoring the basketball — the Shamrocks scored less than 45 points in eight of their 22 games. The good news for Westfield, though, is that only one of those games (New Castle) came after Jan. 16. Junior Zach Banks is Westfield leading scorer at 16.4 points per game, and the guard has been the Shamrocks’ most consistent scoring threat all year. Junior forward Caleb Welch also averages double-figures (10.1) and senior Josh Van Dyke chips in with 9.2 points and a team-high four rebounds per game. Sophomore Chris Chin leads the team in assists per contest (1.2). 

Carmel

No. 12 Carmel began the season with a loss at Zionsville, but followed the defeat with three-straight wins over Lawrence Central, Pendleton Heights and Noblesville. The Greyhounds went 3-2 against the teams in their sectional bracket (wins over Noblesville, Westfield and Anderson and losses to Fishers and Hamilton Southeastern). Despite just a 15-7 record, Carmel played a challenging schedule that included games against No. 1 Warren Central, No. 3 New Albany, No. 7 Zionsville, No. 14 Brownsburg and No. 15 Lawrence North. Led by the Butler-bound John Michael Mulloy, the Greyhounds finished the season winners of seven of their last nine.

Carmel is the heavy favorite in this Class 4A Sectional 8 matchup, as Sagarin ratings makes the Greyhounds about a 22-point favorite. The Greyhounds defeated the Shamrocks 73-31 when the county rivals met Jan. 6 at Carmel, but Westfield is playing its best basketball of the season at the right time. If the Shamrocks intend to pull off the upset, however, they’ll most likely need to score more than they did in the first meeting. Banks, who scored 13, was the only Westfield player in double-figures. Carmel held Welch to just two points — the junior will need to be more productive if Westfield is going to move on to play Hamilton Southeastern in the semis. The Shamrocks are 1-3 against teams in their bracket, although the one win came against Southeastern.

Editor's note: Sectional outlooks for Fishers, Hamilton Southeastern and University will be featured in part two of our IHSAA basketball sectional preview. All three teams drew byes and wait to find out their semifinal's opponents. 

Guerin Catholic

Guerin Catholic opens play in the Class 3A Sectional 27 at Guerin at 7 p.m. Tuesday with a first-round matchup against Bishop Chatard. The Golden Eagles, who beat the Trojans by 22 on Jan. 5, are about 13.5-point favorites in the rematch, according to Sagarin ratings.

Seniors Jack Hansen and Zach Munson scored 17 and 16, respectively in the first meeting and will look to use their size advantage down low against a smaller Chatard team. Hansen, 18, and Munson, 15.5, have been Guerin’s pillars all season, and the Golden Eagles will need their horses to produce if they are to survive this bracket. Cardinal Ritter (13-7) awaits Guerin in a potential semifinal matchup, and the defending Class 3A State Champs Crispus Attucks (17-4) would be a formidable foe in the finals.

Hamilton Heights

Hamilton Heights (11-11) enters the Class 3A Sectional 24 bracket as sizable underdogs to No. 1 New Castle (22-2). Sagarin ratings has the Trojans as about a 20-point favorite, although the Huskies only lost by nine when the two schools met in Arcadia on Dec. 1. Hamilton Heights has proven to be a streaky team all season and has the offensive firepower to hang with top-ranked New Castle.

The Trojans average 69.8 points a game, while the Huskies score 64.1 points a contest. Freshman Gus Etchison and sophomore Camron Knott lead Heights in scoring at 11.5 points a game, but the Huskies have a plethora of interchangeable parts that can contribute at any time. Six players average at least seven points a game and head coach Chad Ballenger isn’t afraid to mix up his rotations depending on the scenario and whose got the hot hand. If Heights can pull off the the upset, Muncie Burris (5-17) awaits them in the semis.

Sheridan

Sheridan drew a bye in the Class 2A Sectional 40 bracket at Lapel and await the winner of the Monroe Central vs. No. 4 Frankton first-round game. The Blackhawks (11-11) will tip-off their semifinal contest Friday at 6 p.m.

Sheridan hasn’t played Monroe Central and dropped a nail-biting 56-54 contest at Frankton in the last game of the regular season. Senior Ange Gnamkey leads the Blackhawks in scoring at 16.3 points per game and is second on the team to junior Nicholas Burnell (6.9) with 6.5 rebounds per contest.

Sheridan lost four of five entering postseason play, and Sagarin ratings has the Blackhawks as a 19-point underdog against Frankfort and about a half-point dog against Monroe Central. If Sheridan advances to the finals, it would face either Wapahani, Elwood or host-school Lapel. The Blackhawks lost to Elwood and Lapel during the season and haven’t faced Wapahani.