By GREG MENGELT
New Washington junior Ashley Johnson didn’t take much time to celebrate the Mustangs’ first sectional championship since 2007.
Johnson’s mind was on bigger things, namely Saturday’s West Washington Regional.
“I’ve been thinking about it all week,” Johnson said. “It’s been on my mind since we won sectional. We’ve just got to stay focused. We don’t want to settle just for sectional."
“Everyone’s really excited,” junior center Caroline Ricks said. “The atmosphere is phenomenal. We couldn’t ask for a better fan base, a better school and a better community.”
The Mustangs are 20-2, have won 14 games in a row and 18 of their last 19, including the Southern Athletic Conference championship and their sixth sectional title in school history.The Mustangs are 20-2, have won 14 games in a row and 18 of their last 19, including the Southern Athletic Conference championship and their sixth sectional title in school history.On Saturday, New Wash will have to beat two really good teams. The Mustangs open with 19-4 Vincennes Rivet at 10 a.m. The Rivet program is 133-15 over the past six season and the Patriots have been to the state championship game three times in that period, including a state championship n 2010.
The 2012-13 Patriots are balanced.
“They’re very athletic and very basketball knowledgeable,” White evaluated. “They have a good outside and inside game. They’ll present some challenges, but they’re supposed to — it’s tournament time.”
“We know that they have great 3-point shooters,” Ricks said. “That’s what we’re prepared for. They have some good guards that like to drive. But we know we’re going to have to contain their shooters.”
With a win, New Wash would likely play 20-2 Northeast Duboios, which opens with 15-7 Trinity Lutheran in the second semifinal at Campbellsburg on Saturday. The Jeeps made a trip to the state finals a year ago, falling to Fort Wayne Canterbury 64-54 in the title game.
“I think it’s one of the more difficult [Class A] regionals,” White assessed. “It’s most unfortunate that some good teams are going to be eliminated because of this particular tournament.”
The Mustangs hope that in the end, Saturday was just one step in an unprecedented journey for the New Washington girls’ basketball program.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to win a state championship. That’s the ultimate goal,” White said. “In order to do that, you have to take it one game at a time. I think our players understand that. Hopefully they’re not satisfied just with winning the sectional championship. They would like to put a regional banner up there as well.”
“I think we’re capable of winning a state championship, but you have to take it one game at a time,” Ricks said. “As long as we stay focused, I believe we can win every single game that we play.”
“We can win anything we set our mind to,” Johnson predicted. “We have to just play like we can, the best that we can.”
CLASS A WEST WASHINGTON REGIONAL
NEW WASHINGTON VS. VINCENNES RIVET
• Time: 10 a.m.
• Records: New Washington 20-2; Rivet 19-4.
• Rankings: New Washington — Class A No. 8; Rivet — Class A No. 4.
• Computer-based Sagarin ratings: New Washington — Class A No. 4; Rivet — Class A No. 3. (Rivet favored by 8 points.)
• Likely starting lineups: New Washington — Ashley Johnson (Junior, 17.7 points per game, 5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.9 spg), Caroline Ricks (Junior, 13.7 ppg, 13 rpg, 2.4 spg), Kriston Sarver (Senior, 12.1 ppg, 2.6 spg, 1.9 apg), Courtney Amick (Junior, 7.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 2.3 spg), Coari Robertson (Senior, 3.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg); Rivet — Bailey Dreiman (Senior, 10.9 ppg), Allyson Wehrheim (Senior, 10.8), Lauren Herman (Junior, 10.3), Kelsey Ivers (Freshman, 10.3), Makala Emmons (Junior, 1.3).
• Last meeting: Have never met.
• Regional championships: New Washington 4, Rivet 3.
• Last regional championship: New Washington 2001; Rivet 2011 (state champions).
NORTHEAST DUBOIS VS. TRINITY LUTHERAN
• Time: Approximately noon.
• Records: Northeast Dubois 20-2; Trinity 15-8.
• Rankings: Northeast Dubois — Class A No. 5; Trinity — Not ranked.
• Computer-based Sagarin ratings: Northeast Dubois — Class A No. 6; Trinity — Class A No. 35.
• Likely starting lineups: Northeast Dubois — Nicole Dodd (Senior, 20.2 ppg), Taylor Borden (Senior, 3.5), Haley Kinder (Junior, 9.9), Emily Lueken (Junior, 8.4), Rachel Breitwieser (Junior, 7.1); Trinity — Kyra Klosterman (Senior, 6.3 points per game), Hannah Barker (Senior, 5.3), Allison Posey (Junior, 12.7), Haley Couch (Junior, 9.3), Mariah Nolan (Junior, 8.9).
• Last meeting: Have not met.
• Regional championships: Northeast Dubois 5; Trinity 0.
• Last regional championship: Northeast Dubois 2012.
NEWS AND TRIBUNE STAFF PICKS
• Greg Mengelt, Sports Editor: First round — New Washington 59, Vincennes Rivet 54; Champions — New Washington. Mengelt: “I know Rivet and Northeast Dubois have the experience and probably as much talent as the Mustangs, but I’ve been saying all year that this is New Wash’s year. Nothing has given me any reason to believe anything otherwise. I expect this team to be playing in The Haute in two weeks.”
• Kevin Harris, Sports Reporter: First round — New Washington 61, Vincennes Rivet 57. Champion — Northeast Dubois. Harris: “I think the Mustangs find a way to knock off Vincennes Rivet because they are simply on a roll right now and their coach, Terry White, knows how to prepare a team, both mentally and physically, when he has a week to get ready for a challenging opponent. But Northeast Dubois will have experience on its side in the championship game as it has several key players back, including leading scorer Nicole Dodd (20.2 points per game), from last year’s Class A state runner-up squad. The Mustangs’ lack of recent postseason experience could have an effect on them if they face Dubois on Saturday night.
• Mike Riley, Sports Correspondent: First round — New Washington 57, Vincennes Rivet 53; Championship — New Washington 61, Northeast Dubois 55. Riley: “First, New Wash has won 14 in a row. They’re on a roll at tournament time. That can’t hurt. Second, they’ve played a majority non-Class A schedule. Rivet has also, but the Mustangs have played — and defeated — two 4A schools, Jeffersonville and New Alban. Yes, you may call it a rebuilding year for Jeff. And yes, I realize that New Albany was without Tanner Marcum, but you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that one player on a homecourt is worth 30 points. Third, Rivet I know has recent history on their side with a State Championship in 2011 and two other finals appearances in the last few years. And Northeast Dubois advanced to the state finals last season. But look for the Mustangs to play that to their favor, mentally tough and ready to go. And if not. Well then, it’s still been a great year.”
• Will Clark, Sports Correspondent: First round — Vincennes Rivet 66, New Washington 57. Champions — Rivet over Northeast Dubois. Clark: “I’m going with Rivet because the ranking means something to me. You can look at the records and see that two of the teams in this regional have better records, but once you get to the postseason, records don’t matter.”
• Ryan Ingram, Sports Correspondent: First round — New Washington 65, Vincennes Rivet 57; Champion — New Washington. Ingram: “New Washington has the poise and coaching to come out on top.”