The road to the Martinsville Sectional boys basketball championship runs through Bloomington North, and for Columbus East, that portion of the road will appear early.
When the IHSAA postseason pairings were announced Sunday, the Olympians (7-13) drew the sectional favorite Cougars (17-3) in the opening game of the tournament at 6 pm March 1. Bloomington North beat East 69-46 on Jan. 29 .
“We’ve played a lot of good teams this year, and I think the night we played Bloomington North, they were very good,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “I just thought they were outstanding, and to that point in the season, the best team we had played. We thought there were times when we competed pretty well, and there were times when they had their way with us. Those are just things we’ve had to try to improve on.”
Awaiting the winner of that game for the 6 pm March 4 semifinal is Columbus North (15-6). The Bull Dogs, who received a first-round bye, beat East 39-26 on Dec. 17 and lost at Bloomington North 53-40 on Friday in a game that decided the Conference Indiana title.
“It was a tough battle at their place Friday,” Columbus North coach Paul Ferguson said. “I think we learned a lot about them. We also learned a lot about ourselves, and if we end up playing them on the Friday of the sectional, we’re going to be ready. There will be some things we do differently next time. I think they’re the most talented team in the sectional.
“At the same time, Columbus East has played really well lately, so we’ll be anxious to see what Columbus East does against them, and we’ll take a few things from that game,” he added. “We’re very familiar with both teams.”
Bloomington North has won 10 in a row. The Olympians have won five in a row, including three in four days last week.
“There is no easy road,” Chitty said. “To play three games in one week is a lot for anybody, but that’s why we do it during the season. We’re playing we think better than we’ve been playing all year, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile, in Class A, Hauser received a favorable draw. The Jets (8-13) will play Morristown (3-16), a team they beat 61-36 on Dec. 4, in the opening round of the Southwestern (Shelby) Sectional at 6 pm March 2.
“I have a ton of respect for (Morristown) coach (Collin) McCartt and the job he’s done in a challenging year,” Hauser coach Brent Keck said. “Those kids do a great job. We’ll have to play well. Morristown will play different defensively than what we saw before.”
If they Jets win, they would play Southwestern (9-11) or Oldenburg Academy (5-13) in the semifinals at around 7:45 pm March 4. The two teams with the best records in that sectional — Jac-Cen-Del (15-5) and Waldron (11-9) — are on the opposite side of the bracket, along with Rising Sun (7-12).
“The draw is something you just never have any control over,” Keck said. “We just want to try to finish the (regular season the) right way on Tuesday (against Columbus Christian).”
Class A No. 4 Edinburgh (18-3) will host its sectional and will face Trinity Lutheran (8-14) in the opening round at around 7:45 pm March 1. The Lancers beat the Cougars 54-44 on Feb. 15 The winner will meet Crothersville (3-18) in the semifinals at around 7:45 pm March 4.
Jennings County (14-6) will meet Floyd Central (16-4) in the first round of the Seymour Sectional at around 7:45 pm March 1. The Highlanders beat the Panthers 67-58 in overtime on Jan. 21. The winner will play New Albany (11-10) in the semifinals at around 7:45 pm March 4.
In Class 2A, South Decatur (11-10) will play host South Ripley (12-9) in the semifinals at 6 pm March 4. The Cougars beat the Raiders 69-62 on Dec. 18.
Brown County (2-17) will face Owen Valley (8-10) in the first round of the Class 3A Edgewood Sectional at around 7:45 pm March 2. The Patriots beat the Eagles 77-47 on Dec. 10. The winner will meet West Vigo (13-10) or Northview (14-8) in the semifinals at around 7:45 pm March 4.
All sectional finals will be at 7 or 7:30 pm March 5.
The regional semifinals and finals will take place March 12, and the semistate round is March 19. The state finals are March 26 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.