The Northern Lakes Conference will be well-represented for the regional round of Hoosier Hysteria come Saturday.
No. 5 NorthWood and Concord each earned sectional titles last Saturday night to move on in the state tournament series.
The Panthers, who overcame injuries to win the Class 3-A Wawasee Sectional title, will play Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger (15-8) in the opening semifinal game of the Blackford Regional.
Concord, which avenged a pair of regular-season losses en route to claiming the Class 4-A Elkhart Sectional crown, faces a huge test versus No. 6 Penn in the second semifinal contest of the Michigan City Regional.
NorthWood takes a program record 21-2 mark into the regional. The Panthers are led by its sensational senior trio of Zach Zurcher (19.5 ppg.), Jonathan Wilkinson (17.9) and Will Stueve (11.4). Sophomore Braxton Linville and seniors Tanner Farmwald and Kyle McCoy are also key performers for the Panthers.
Zurcher, a 6-5 forward, and Wilkinson, a 6-5 guard, each went over 1,000 career points this season for the Panthers. Stueve, a 6-5 forward who will play at Bethel College, had a huge sectional final game with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in the win over West Noble.
Coach Aaron Wolfe’s NorthWood squad defeated Lakeland, Tippecanoe Valley and West Noble to win the program’s fifth sectional championship. The Panthers’ only two losses this season was a 54-52 NLC setback to Northridge and an 85-80 loss at Penn in overtime. NorthWood, whose only regional title came in 2007, has won 12 of its last 13 games.
Dwenger has had a roller-coaster season to say the least. The Saints have won their last eight games, including topping No. 4 New Haven 50-40 in the championship contest of the New Haven Sectional. Dwenger started its season 5-0 before losing eight of its next 10 games.
The Saints finished 3-4 in the Summit Athletic Conference this season and average 57.2 points-per-game. Grady Eifert, who was a first-team, all-conference pick, leads Dwenger in scoring at 14.9 points-per-game. Junior guard Kyle Hartman averages 9.7 ppg. for the Saints, while seniors Michael Fiacable (7.1) and Jeff Mugg (6.5) are next.
Eifert, a 6-5 senior forward, scored 15 points in the sectional title game upset of New Haven, while junior guard Marcus Stepp had 13 and Fiacable 12. Eifert’s older brother Tyler was an All-American tight end at Notre Dame and his father Greg was a basketball standout at Purdue.
The match ups in the Blackford Regional are the exact same as in 2012. NorthWood beat Dwenger 51-40 and Norwell topped Muncie Central 63-58 in the semifinals that year before Norwell defeated NorthWood 62-51 in the title game.
Muncie Central has won its last three games after losing eight straight. The Bearcats finished tied atop the North Central Conference with Richmond and Kokomo. Top players for Central are 6-8 senior Tyler Arens (13.2), sophomore guard Phillip Corthern (11.7), sophomore guard Marcus Dukes (10.8) and senior guard Joe Williams (9.2).
Norwell enters the regional having won seven of its last eight contests. The Knights average 64 ppg. and tied Homestead this season for the Northeast Hoosier Conference title. Norwell is led by the 1-2 punch of 6-4 senior Drew Shively (16.8) and 6-4 senior David Vogel (16.5). Junior guard Austin Hayden averages 11.4 ppg. for coach Randy Hawkins’ squad, which won its own sectional title.
Concord, coached by Steve Austin, claimed its sectional title in impressive fashion. The Minutemen, who were upset as heavy favorites in the sectional in 2013, beat both Elkhart Memorial and Northridge in the sectional, two teams they had lost to during regular season Northern Lakes Conference contests. Concord, which won the 13th sectional title in the program’s rich history, had lost five of its last six regular-season games heading into the sectional at North Side Gym.
The Minutemen are led senior Ramon Johnson (19.0) and junior Filip Serwatka (15.7). They face a Penn team that is 22-1 and beat South Bend Riley 70-45 Monday night in the title game of the South Bend Washington Sectional. The Kingsmen, coached by former longtime Warsaw coach Al Rhodes, beat Concord 66-48 at Penn back on Dec. 13. Standout guard Jordan Geist, the son of former Elkhart Memorial girls basketball coach Scott Geist, leads the way for the Kingsmen.
Westview is another area team still playing in March Madness. The Warriors won their own Class 2-A Sectional and will face Hammond Noll in the North Judson Regional.
Westview has won 20 games for the fourth straight season and are led by Jordyn Bontrager (17.5) and Chandler Aspy (15.3).
Triton High School will be a busy place Saturday as it hosts a Class 1-A Regional. The field there will include Culver, which knocked off Triton in the semifinals of the Culver Sectional to end the Trojans’ streak of sectional titles at six. Trent Elliott of the Cavaliers poured in 40 points in Culver’s 61-51 sectional semifinal win over Triton. Culver then defeated Argos to win the program’s first sectional title since 2008.
Area regional pairings
Saturday, March 15
(All times EDT)
At Michigan City
11 a.m.: Lake Central (19-3) vs. LaPorte (16-7)
1 p.m.: Concord (15-8) vs. Penn (22-1)
8 p.m.: Championship
At Kankakee Valley
10:30 a.m.: Bowman Academy (19-4) vs. Andrean (13-9)
12:30 p.m.: SB St. Joseph (17-6) vs. Twin Lakes (16-7)
8:30 p.m.: Championship
10 a.m.: FW Dwenger (15-8) vs. NorthWood (21-2)
12 p.m.: Muncie Central (10-11) vs. Norwell (19-6)
8 p.m.: Championship
At North Judson
11 a.m.: Winamac (14-8) vs. Woodlan (18-6)
1 p.m.: Hammond Noll (21-3) vs. Westview (20-4)
8:30 p.m.: Championship
10:30 a.m.: Culver (16-7) vs. North White (16-8)
12:30 p.m.: MC Marquette (16-6) vs. FW Blackhawk (16-9)
7:30 p.m.: Championship