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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, January 21, 2018 5:20 pm

Tough opener for defending 4A girls basketball state champs

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Defending Class 4A state champion Homestead drew a first-round matchup against South Side as the IHSAA announced the postseason draw Sunday. The sectionals begin Jan. 30.

The 4A No. 4 Spartans (18-2) won the SAC regular season title, while No. 13 Archers (17-4) won the conference tournament championship. 

"I've always felt like it should be seeded," Homestead coach Rod Parker said of the postseason. "It should give better matchups as you go into the weekend. This year, just happens to be that we play South Side on a Tuesday night.

"When asked the question about seeding, the technology is there, the information is there; in the future I'd like to see sectional seeding. It leads to better weekend matchups."

Homestead won the regular season matchup over South Side 58-55 on Jan. 5.

"Obviously to win a sectional championship, we felt like we'd have to go through South Side. We play them Tuesday night (Jan. 30) so we'll be ready to play them Tuesday night," Parker said. "The opponent definitely makes it a big game. When you get into the tournament, you have to live in the present, you have to pay attention to your opponent each and every night. You have to make that the biggest game on your schedule.

"Whether we would have drawn anyone else in our sectional, that Tuesday night game would have been the biggest game. That will be the biggest key to keep advancing."

Central Noble, who fell in last year's 2A semistate to Oak Hill, drew a first-round bye and will face the winner of Prairie Heights and Whitko.

"I like the draw we got this year. I think it's a great draw for us starting out," Cougars coach Josh Treesh said. "We are lucky enough to play back-to-back games this week, Thursday and Friday, to get us in preparation. I like the fact that the girls are going to get a whole week to prepare for our opponent."

The No. 9 Cougars (15-5) are 6-0 against sectional opponents and 8-0 against 2A opponents, including a 47-39 win over Westview in the NECC tournament.

"(The conference tournament) gives those girls a postseason type atmosphere that you usually don't see during the season," Treesh said. "You get that Friday-Saturday game (turnaround) that you'd see during sectional."

If Central Noble is fortunate to get back to the semistate, Treesh believes that, in addition to the returning leadership in Meleah Leatherman and Sydney Freeman, the coaching staff will be better prepared for the toll a big-time game will take on the team.

"I think our coaching staff learned things we need to do differently," Treesh said. "Limiting distractions, keeping the girls focused during the week but balancing having fun, too. I think the coaching staff will do a lot better job of prepping the players, if we're lucky enough to keep advancing through the postseason."

areichel@jg.net