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Don’t look now, but it’s time for sectionals

Where has the season gone?
With only one week left in the regular season, and four days until the Indiana High School Athletic Association conducts its pairings for the 29th annual girls state basketball tournament, now’s the time for the five local high schools to batten the hatches for the post-season run.
While I’m no expert (as proven by my basketball contest results) I’ll just offer up this old corner’s take on what the area teams need to realize their post-season goals.
Corydon Central (14-3) ‘ Biggest win vs. North Harrison (a 35-point blowout); Biggest loss vs. Scottsburg (looms large with defeat of North; could have meant sole possession of first place in conference) ‘ The Lady Panthers went through some early-season growing pains, which were to be expected from a squad that sported just a couple of seniors and started several underclassmen. But Corydon has weathered the storm of a strong schedule to climb to No. 10 in the most recent ICGSA Class 3A poll.
What needs to be improved? Not much.
Defensively, Corydon is one of the best teams in the state, giving up only 43.5 points per game. Throw out the Jeffersonville debacle, in which Corydon gave up 89, and the number drops to 38.2 (21st in the state). But as impressive as the defense is, the offense ‘ led by junior all-star candidate Dana Beaven’s 20.0 ppg. ‘ has been sparkling in recent weeks. The Lady Panthers are averaging 60.2 points, which ranks 34th in the state, and have averaged 74 ppg. in their last six outings.
Corydon has a very balanced attack, with sophomore Megan Greer (9.5 ppg.) and Stannye Wolfe (8.9 ppg.) behind Beaven’s average. Throw in a solid 7.3 ppg. from another sophomore ‘ Megan Bates ‘ and always-solid floor games from seniors Ashley Withers and Julie Hoehn, too.
Unlike last year, when Corydon was overshadowed by North’s glittering 20-0 season, the Lady Panthers have stepped to the forefront as a sectional contender with NH and Scottsburg.
Crawford County (10-9) ‘ Biggest win vs. West Washington (snapped a three-game slide and started team’s current three-game win streak); Biggest loss vs. Springs Valley (seven points separated Lady Pack from knocking off conference leader) ‘ Things haven’t changed much during the course of this season for Crawford senior all-state candidate Bianca Haverstock.
The sure-handed guard entered the campaign without much help, offensively; however, several teammates have slowly stepped up their play down the stretch: Amanda Benson (5.1 ppg.), Kim Presley (6.2), Melinda Grote (5.79) and Kara Parr (4.2).
While the Lady Pack has played .500 ball all year, the potential is there for a run in the sectional. Tell City ‘ a team Crawford lost to by seven earlier this year ‘ is the biggest hurdle. Look for the draw to spell out the Lady Pack’s fate at .
North Harrison (13-3) ‘ Biggest win vs. Scottsburg (a five-point win by North set the stage for another conference championship); Biggest loss vs. Corydon Central (a 35-point humbling erased hopes for an undefeated league title and set a log-jam atop the MSC standings) ‘ Last week the Lady Cats lost a regular-season matchup to a Class 3A team for the first time since Nov. 17, 2001 (a loss to Scottsburg). The setback was devastating enough, but the fact that it came against rival Corydon Central was even more vexatious.
The Lady Cats have the 3A sectional at home this year, so until someone beats them on their home court, they remain the team to go through. Junior forward Rachel Cannon is expected to return this week from a knee injury, which may have been a blessing in disguise for head coach Missy Voyles. The loss of Cannon gave junior Stefany Jaso some much-needed prime time, which will be beneficial in the tournament.
The only thing North’s bunch needs to improve on is trying not to rely on star junior guard Tara Miller as much. In the loss to Corydon, the Lady Cats looked to Miller to save the day when they got down by 30, while Miller looked for a bit of help from the double-teams she often faced. A happy medium needs to be found if NH wants to make a return date at the Southport Semi-state to complete its unfinished business.
Lanesville (7-9) ‘ Biggest win was actually a loss, 59-57, to South Central; Biggest loss vs. Eastern (overtime) ‘ One of the scariest teams in the area is Lanesville. The Lady Eagles are treading water near the .500 mark and have a chance to close out the season on a five-game win streak.
The narrow loss to South on Jan. 3 set the stage for what could be a barn- burner at New Washington’s 1A sectional, because now the Lady Eagles believe they can compete with one of the state’s best small-school teams.
Leading the way for Lanesville are sophomores Maegan VanHoose (13.06 ppg.) and Heather Schaefer (10.19). If a consistent third scorer can step up for LHS in the home stretch, who knows what can happen.
Beating a team three times in a season ‘ as South has done to Lanesville ‘ is tough to do. Beating them a fourth time is even tougher.
South Central (14-6) ‘ Biggest win vs. Charlestown in season-opener; Biggest loss vs. Springs Valley (six-point loss to a possible regional opponent) ‘ With two games left in the regular season, South Central sits in exactly the same position record-wise as it did last year. The Lady Rebels, which locked up at least a share of its second-straight Southern Athletic Conference championship last weekend, head to the New Washington Sectional as the likely favorite.
Lanesville nipped at the heels of South on Jan. 3, so the Lady Rebels will be weary of those with Purple Pride. The big question mark lies in Christian Academy of Indiana (formerly Graceland Christian).
South used to play CAI but hasn’t since two years ago. Christian Academy sports a 13-4 record and has tripped up the same Valley team that defeated South.
If there’s a positive for South, it lies in its superior scoring: senior Rikki Abbott (18.21) and junior Samantha Troutman (18.95) combine to average almost as much as the entire CAI team (45.7).
Also, the Lady Warriors don’t play near as tough a schedule, with a Sagarin Rating of 384 out of 386 teams that play basketball in Indiana.
As long as seniors Melissa Biesel, Lindsay Haag and Shannon Bruner continue to provide strong play down low and sophomore Sarah Pease keeps her handle at the point, anything less than a second consecutive sectional championship would be a major letdown for the Lady Rebels.
The IHSAA will conduct its draw this Sunday and pairings will appear at about 1:30 p.m. at www.ihsaa.org

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