> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
More boys’ basketball teams in the Clark-Floyd County area had success in 2013-14 than any season in recent memory.
Eight of the 12 teams spent time in the Associated Press polls. Borden won the Southern Athletic Conference, Clarksville finished in a three-way tie in the Mid-Southern Conference and New Albany claimed the Hoosier Hills Conference title. The Generals also won the Silver Creek Holiday Tournament and Rock Creek claimed the Loogootee Tourney crown — the first team other than the host Lions to do so).
Clarksville finished the season ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, Christian Academy is currently No. 6 and Borden is No. 9 in Class A.
None of that matters now. Ask any of the coaches above and they’ll tell you they’d trade all of the above success for a sectional championship. Ask the coaches of the teams that weren’t mentioned above and they’ll tell you that a sectional championship would make up for any shortcomings during the regular season.
Here’s a look at the area’s four local sectionals, which begin this evening:
CLASS 4A SEYMOUR SECTIONAL
• Favorite: New Albany. The Bulldogs have struggled away from home and had a very poor showing in their regular-season finale, but they still have to be considered a slight frontrunner.
• Serious contenders: Jeffersonville and Jennings County. Whoever comes out of this first-round matchup will be a big obstacle for New Albany in the championship game.
• Darkhorses: Floyd Central and Bedford North Lawrence. The Stars are playing well late in the season and the Highlanders have the talent to make a run. Floyd has won two in a row, including a win over Jennings, and nearly beat New Albany early in the season.
• Player that could be the difference maker: Drew Ellis, Jeffersonville. Ellis has been a great distributor and spot-up shooter over the past two seasons. Recently, he’s discovered that he has to be a go-to guy for the Devils to be successful. If the Devils are to win their third sectional in a row — and fourth in five years — Ellis will be a major reason why.
• Best first-round matchup: Jeffersonville vs. Jennings County. Jeff is the two-time defending champion, but the Devils were blown out at Jennings just a couple weeks ago. This game could go either way.
• Most compelling possible semifinal matchup: New Albany vs. Bedford North Lawrence. New Albany pulled away from the Stars for a 68-47 win on Feb. 21, but that was in the Doghouse. The Bulldogs went 9-1 in the Doghouse this season but were just 5-5 away from home.
• Most likely championship game scenario: New Albany vs. Jeffersonville. The two have faced off in the sectional eight times in the past 11 years. Seven of those meetings were in the championship game. The two teams should continue their domination of this tournament.
• Championship game prediction: Jeffersonville 67, New Albany 65. The Red Devils are starting to play well late in the season and are the defending champions. It will take a great effort to knock them off their perch.
• Probable first-round regional opponent at Seymour: Evansville Harrison. It was a strong year for the 4A teams in Evansville. It could be Harrison, Reitz, Castle or North that comes out of Sectional 16.
• Probable regional championship opponent Seymour: Columbus North. The Bull Dogs have been up and down this season, but they’re too talented not to get to the Seymour Regional … and win it.