News and Tribune

November 27, 2013

TEN TO WATCH: Questions could be answered early

By GREG MENGELT
greg.mengelt@newsandtribune.com

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — As the boys’ basketball season gets underway this week, there are a ton of questions that need answers — as there are before every season.

Many of those questions could get at least partial answers as early as the first week.

Here are some examples:

• Is New Albany good enough to compete for a sectional championship? If the young Bulldogs go up to Bloomington and are competitive with South in their opener, the clear answer is yes. South has probably one of the best four or five Class 4A teams that feed into the Seymour Regional. If the Panthers win comfortably, then the answer would be left incomplete.

• Will Lou Lefevre work his magic in 2013-14? Lefevre’s ability to make the most out of less than ideal situations is unquestioned. The Pioneers lost all five starters. A rebuilding project is in Lefevre’s wheelhouse. If Providence puts a hurt on 2011 Class A state champion Metropolitan on Friday, perhaps the Pioneers could be a sleeper.

• Is Rock Creek the Class A sectional favorite? The preliminary assessment is that it is. However, a lot could be told when the Lions go to Loogootee for an early-season tournament on Saturday. They face Attica, which his coming off a 12-10 campaign, in the opening round. With a win, Rock Creek would likely face ninth-ranked Loogootee. Perhaps no team has a chance to reveal its true identity more than the Lions will in the opening week.

• Is Silver Creek a legitimate threat in the Mid-Southern Conference and in Sectional 30? The Dragons have as much coming back as anybody from a team that won six of its last eight games to end last season. Creek can make a statement on the road against a rival in its conference opener at Charlestown on Saturday.

• Borden doesn’t figure to be a threat to repeat as a state champion in 2014, but is there any doubt the Braves could win a third straight sectional title for the first time in school history? It’s not likely we’ll learn much from Borden’s trip to Shoals, but the Braves are certainly an interesting team headed into the season.

• While Eastern doesn’t appear to have the pieces to be a threat in the MSC or in the Sectional 46 field, try telling them that. Can the Musketeers be a sleeper in 2013-14? They believe so. Wins over Borden and Scottsburg would go a long way toward that end.

• Can Henryville get off the scneid? The Hornets have lost 25 in a row. A win in their season opener against Silver Creek doesn’t seem realistic. A win at a rebuilt Christian Academy team doesn’t appear likely, either. However, if Henryville can be competitive with one or both, it will give the Hornets hope against teams like Southwestern, New Washington, Crothersville and Indianapolis Herron down the road.

• Then there’s Clarksville, which meets Floyd Central on Tuesday at home. Despite continuing the drum beat from Clarksville coach Jason Connell that his Generals lack respect from outside of Clarksville, I’ve heard few doubt Clarksville is the favorite to repeat as sectional champions, even after losing some key pieces. Is Clarksville going to continue to be a top-notch Class 2A program without the elder McEwen? A win over a 4A Floyd team that appears headed in the right direction would be a big step.

 • Finally, there’s Floyd Central. The Highlanders have upgraded personnel and their athleticism. They have a new coach who, having visited practice once for about 10 minutes, is clearly an impressive leader. I truly believe Floyd Central will become a Class 4A and Hoosier Hills Conference powerhouse if Mark Lieberman sticks around. Will that start to show this season? Tuesday’s opener at Clarksville will certainly tell a story, one way or another.

Here’s a look at this week’s “Ten to Watch:”

    

GAME OF THE WEEK

BOYS — SILVER CREEK (0-0) AT CHARLESTOWN (0-0)


DAY/TIME: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

LAST 10 YEARS: Silver Creek 11-7.

LAST YEAR: At Charlestown 57, Silver Creek 50 (regular season); Charlestown 70, at Silver Creek 63 (Silver Creek Holiday Tournament championship).

REASON TO WATCH: The game was moved up a couple weeks and is now the Mid-Southern Conference opener for both teams. It’s the actual opener for Sean Smith and the Pirates. While the Pirates appear to be in rebuild mode — something at which Smith has thrived in the past — Creek appears to be an outside contender in the league. Brownstown and Clarksville are the clear favorites, but the Dragons believe they are a player in the race. Charlestown may be tough to beat later in the season, but for now, even on the road the Dragons have to be the favorites.

THE PICK: Silver Creek 65, Charlestown 56.



WEDNESDAY

GIRLS — SILVER CREEK (0-2, 0-0 MSC) AT NORTH HARRISON (2-2, 0-1 MSC)


TIME: 7:30 p.m.

LAST 10 YEARS: Silver Creek 7-4.

LAST YEAR: At Silver Creek 51, North Harrison 43.

REASON TO WATCH: Pay no attention to the four early combined losses between the Dragons and the Cats. Creek’s have come to two Hoosier Hills Conference frontrunners, while North Harrison’s have been to one of the same HHC powers and the Mid-Southern Conference favorite. This game, however, will tell which team is probably a pretender in the MSC.

THE PICK: Silver Creek 47, North Harrison 42.



FRIDAY

BOYS — INDIANAPOLIS METROPOLITAN (0-0) AT PROVIDENCE (0-0)


TIME: 7:30 p.m.

LAST 10 YEARS: Providence 6-0.

LAST YEAR: At Providence 53, Metropolitan 29.

REASON TO WATCH: Providence is young. Not much is expected of it. So of course, this will be another sectional-contending Pioneer team under Lefevre.

THE PICK: Providence 55, Metropolitan 46.



GIRLS — JENNINGS COUNTY (2-1, 0-0 HHC) AT JEFFERSONVILLE (3-1, 0-1 HHC)

TIME: 7:30 p.m.

LAST 10 YEARS: Jeffersonville 10-1.

LAST YEAR: At Jennings County 46, Jeffersonville 41 (OT).

REASON TO WATCH: Last year at North Vernon, the Red Devils had a horrendous shooting night and saw their 12-game winning streak over the Panthers snapped. On Friday, Jeff will get its revenge and improve to 4-1 for the best start since Jeff’s 11-0 start during its state championship season of 2010-11.

THE PICK: Jeffersonville 63, Jennings County 47.



SATURDAY

BOYS — NEW ALBANY (0-0) AT BLOOMINGTON SOUTH (0-0)


TIME: 7:30 p.m.

LAST 10 YEARS: Bloomington South 6-1.

LAST YEAR: At New Albany 61, Bloomington South 57.

REASON TO WATCH: This is a big early test for the Bulldogs, who have a lot of physical talent but not much experience. Dre McBirth will be the key for New Albany. If he’s the star he was projected to be a couple years ago — along with the young talent and athleticism that dots the NA roster — it may be a championship season in New Albany.

THE PICK: Bloomington South 68, New Albany 62.



GIRLS — HENRYVILLE (4-1) AT CHARLESTOWN (1-0)

TIME: 12:30 p.m.

LAST 10 YEARS: Charlestown 5-0.

LAST YEAR: Charlestown 64, at Henryville 31.

REASON TO WATCH: These are two of the hottest teams in Southern Indiana. The Hornets are 4-1 and coming off a win over Class A No. 4 New Washington, while Charlestown beat Mid-Southern Conference power Corydon Central to open the season in Michael Prichard’s debut on the Pirate bench. I have a feeling of how this game will go, but I thought the same thing about Henryville and New Wash.

THE PICK: Charlestown 57, Henryville 47.



TUESDAY

GIRLS — NEW WASHINGTON (2-2, 0-1 SAC) AT BORDEN (2-0, 1-0 SAC)


TIME: 7:30 p.m.

LAST 10 YEARS: New Washington 12-2.

LAST YEAR: At New Washington 49, Borden 46 (regular season); At New Washington 56, Borden 43 (sectional first round).

REASON TO WATCH: This was expected to be an early showdown for Southern Athletic Conference supremacy. Henryville had other ideas. Now the Mustangs, who dropped four fourth to 13th in the latest coaches’ poll, must beat Borden and get some help (probably from Borden) to at least get a share of the MSC crown. My enormous gut tells me New Wash bounces back in a big road game. Caroline Ricks, Ashley Johnson and company won’t let the Mustangs go down so easily.

THE PICK: New Washington 50, Borden 44.



BOYS — FLOYD CENTRAL (0-0) AT CLARKSVILLE (0-0)

TIME: 7:30 p.m.

LAST 10 YEARS: Clarksville 1-0.

LAST YEAR: Clarksville 43, at Floyd Central 41.

REASON TO WATCH: This is the most interesting game of the week. Clarksville could be great, but the Generals have to recover from the loss of Aidan McEwen — one of the area’s best players over the past three seasons. Floyd Central had so much turnover in its roster that it’s almost impossible to make anything of the Highlanders before seeing them. I know this much, Floyd will be more fun to watch in the near future.

THE PICK: Clarksville 61, Floyd Central 59.



BOYS — HENRYVILLE (0-0) AT CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (0-0)

TIME: 7:30 p.m.

LAST 10 YEARS: Henryville 10-6.

LAST YEAR: Christian Academy 61, at Henryville 49.

REASON TO WATCH: Henryville’s schedule was clearly made when the Hornets were a Class A powerhouse. There aren’t a lot of easy wins for Henryville in a good season. A good showing at CAI on Saturday could give the Hornets the confidence they need to get a handful of victories this season.

THE PICK: Christian Academy 58, Henryville 41.



GIRLS — MADISON (3-0, 0-0 HHC) AT FLOYD CENTRAL (1-1, 0-0 HHC)

TIME: 7:30 p.m.

LAST 10 YEARS: Floyd Central 6-4.

LAST YEAR: At Madison 64, Floyd Central 57.

REASON TO WATCH: There are three or four teams that have a chance to finish second to Bedford North Lawrence in the Hoosier Hills Conference. These are clearly two of them. Without BNL in the mix, this could have been a game for the HHC title.

THE PICK: Floyd Central 61, Madison 59.