Area teams preparing for district tourney
By Chris Miles
None of the Madison-County boys basketball teams are seeded really high in the upcoming Central District tournaments, but just about every one of them has a chance of doing some serious damage.
They’ve all either shown they can play with and or beat top teams, or they have a collection of standout athletes capable of winning virtually on their own.
Madison-Plains coach Jeff Spradlin’s team is seeded 12th among the 24 squads in Division III and has a first-round bye.
The Golden Eagles (13-8) will play either at No. 11 seed Fairbanks or at home against No. 15 Centerburg Feb. 27. A victory in their first game could mean a showdown with No. 1 seed Bloom-Carroll.
But the fact that Spradlin has a team loaded with seniors and his team is playing well right now, he knows that anything is possible.
“We’re starting to play good team basketball,” Spradlin said. “We have a bunch of different of guys capable of having big nights offensively and lately our defense has been outstanding.”
The coach said there were other open spots on the bracket he could have chosen, but he opted to take the one that fed right into a possible date with the top seeded Bulldogs.
“There was a spot where we could have played at (No. 8) Bishop Ready and then have to go play at (No. 5) Grandview, if we got past them and would likely have run into (No. 4) Fredericktown, who is playing really well right now.
“I figured if we get to Bloom-Carroll it would be on a neutral floor as opposed to having to playing two tough games on the road.”
West Jefferson (14-5) received the No. 10 seed in the D-III tourney and will open its postseason at home Feb. 23 against No. 17 Northridge. A first-round victory will mean a date at No. 6 Worthington Christian Feb. 27, the same team which knocked the Roughriders out of the postseason a year ago.
“We liked the draw,” West Jefferson coach Bob Hunter said. “We played Worthington Christian last year and they knocked us out so there’s a little bit of familiarity there. They’ll be in our league next year so our kids will get a chance to go over to their arena if we get past Northridge.
“Northridge comes from a nice league and they’ve won seven or eight games so they’re competitive and anybody can beat anybody on any given night. Northridge is first and we’re not looking past anybody else.”
Fellow Mid-State League foe Grandview received the No. 5 seed in D-III, despite having lost twice to the Roughriders, but Hunter had no issues with the Bobcats being that high.
“Grandview has their body of work over the whole season,” he said. “They beat Licking Heights prior to the draw, we did not.
“And we beat Grandview after we had to submit everything and we had just lost to Fairbanks which is another D-III team we had to deal with, we got seeded about where we thought we would be because of our up and down part of the season.”
London (9-12) opened the season with seven straight losses, but have been on quite a roll since the calendar changed over to 2013. The problem is the Red Raiders don’t play a whole lot of Central District teams during the regular season and thus are a big mystery to teams and coaches doing the seeding.
The Red Raiders are seeded 21st out of 27 D-II teams in the district and will open on the road at No. 19 Utica Feb. 23. The winner of this tilt will likely play No. 1 seed Brookhaven Feb. 28. the Bearcats open with No. 27 Linden.
With it’s “Big Three” trio of guards Kyle Fisher, Brok Bennett and Zac Carey, London has the personnel to cause all types of problems for teams who may be overlooking them because they haven’t seen them play.
Jonathan Alder (3-18) was handed the 25th seed and will play at No. 11 Marion-Franklin Feb. 23. The winner will then move on to tangle with No. 5 Bishop Hartley in the second round. The Pioneers have proven to be a dangerous squad this winter, look no further than their upset of Grandview this season.
Shekinah Christian (10-8) will square off with No. 6 Gahanna Christian Feb. 27. The eighth-seeded Flames with a win would advance to meet either No. 4 Danville, No. 5 Tree of Life or No. 10 Granville Christian.