PLYMOUTH — It’s the time of year again when the hysteria starts to build around the state of Indiana with the opening of the boy’s basketball sectional.
Opening round at Plymouth is Tuesday night with New Prairie taking on South Bend St. Joe. The tournament continues on Wednesday with Culver Military taking on defending champ Marian at 6 p.m. and Jimtown facing off with Plymouth in the nightcap. Friday sees Glenn taking on the New Prairie/St. Joe winner and the CMA/Marian winner taking on the Plymouth/Jimtown winner. Saturday night the sectional champion for 2013 will be crowned at Plymouth.
“You have to look at Marian and Demetrius (Jackson) — he’s going to make a lot of plays and score a lot of points,” said Glenn head coach Travis Hannah. “But St. Joe and New Prairie each have big players that can make big plays and put points on the board. Really I guess you could say that about everybody in the field. I really like to think we could be there with a chance at the end.
“I’ve told our kids we’re 64 minutes away from a sectional title. It’s what we’ve played for all this year, it’s what you work for all year long.”
The Plymouth sectional favorite would naturally be defending champion Mishawaka Marian and soon to be Notre Dame recruit Jackson, but Plymouth has their own DI standout in Mack Mercer, and, as Hannah pointed out St. Joe, New Prairie, Glenn and CMA have all shown the ability and talent to beat any opponent on a given night.
“We simply have to take care of the basketball,” said CMA boss Mark Galloway, who’s been through these battles before. “That’s been our difficulty all season. We know what kind of a problem Marian is going to be. They beat us earlier this year without Demetrius so we know how good they are even when he’s not on the floor.
“We’ve been working eight guys against two in practice getting the ball up the floor so hopefully if we can do that we can handle the pressure that Marian might give us. I guess we’ll see.”
The only other change CMA has made over the past week involves the big screen.
“Normally we’ll watch film on two previous games — sectional week we like to watch the last five games,” said Galloway. “We get to practice at Plymouth this week and while we don’t really do anything different I always think it’s fun to practice at another facility during the tournament — shooting on different rims , that kind of thing. That and we’ll watch film on Monday and Tuesday instead of just Tuesday this week.”
“We like to feel like we’ve been fairly successful this season, but we’re anxious to take it to a higher level,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Bales. “New Prairie and St. Joe are going to be physical with you and they are very dangerous. Fortunately we’ve had some time to prepare and work on what we’re going to try to do the past few weeks. We’ve spent time getting a lot of shots up and getting ourselves ready.”
For the Pilgrims that will entail a cool head in the midst of the storm.
“Obviously there will be some chaos involved in that,” said Bales. “It’s a good thing if we can get after people and get out into transition. Layups always make it a little easier on offense, but I feel really confident we’re going to be good in the halfcourt too. The key for us is composure. Teams are going to have runs, the game is going to have ups and downs, and we need to stay composed and have poise.
“We have to do what we do in every situation and not do things that are out of character for us.”
“Our kids have had an up and down season, but I like our guys and I think they’ve come into this week with the right attitude and approach,” said Hannah of his Falcons. “I don’t feel like I did a very good job managing the game the other night against Plymouth. Tempo is so important to us; defense is so important to us. There were a few times in that second half I felt like we may have settled for a shot instead of getting a good one. We can’t play like that.
“Team defense is very important to us, and we need to knock down some shots, but for us if we’ve got all five guy playing together that will make the difference.”
• Class 3A Sectional 19
Tuesday, Feb. 26
New Prairie (12-8) vs. South Bend St. Joseph (11-9) 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 27
Culver Military Academy (2-18) vs. Marian (10-9) 6 p.m.
Jimtown (7-13) vs. Plymouth (17-3) 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 1
John Glenn vs. New Prairie-St. Joe winner 6 p.m.
CMA-Marian winner vs. Jimtown-Plymouth winner 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 2
Championship 7:30 p.m.