Warren Central Athletics
Bragging rights for the kings of the county are on the line with the 101st edition of the Marion County Tournament. Lots of factors come into play to win one of the most difficult in-season tournaments in high school basketball – mainly whether a team can get a favorable draw and a team’s ability to win four games in five days.
First- and second-round games will be held at predetermined sites, with the semifinals and championship games being held at Southport Fieldhouse.
FIRST ROUND – Tuesday, Jan. 14
All games tip off at 6:30 p.m. Home teams are in bold
North Central vs Lawrence North
North Central (5-5) pulled off a big road win last Friday at Ben Davis, 86-61, to even their record to 5-5. The Panthers are showing signs of growth after stumbling to a 2-5 start, but they will have a tall task on their hands when they visit undefeated Lawrence North on Tuesday night.
Lawrence North (10-0) pulled off one of their biggest wins of the season last Friday, knocking off previously undefeated Warren Central in overtime. Through 10 games the Wildcats have been able to shake off stretches of bad play thanks to individual heroics from Tony Perkins, Shamar Avance and DJ Hughes. The Wildcats should be considered one of the favorites to hoist the trophy come Saturday night. The pick: Lawrence North
Beech Grove vs Decatur Central
This first-round matchup is a rematch from a regular season game played a little over a week ago. Decatur Central senior G Kenny Tracy led all scorers with 19 points in their 65-55 win over Beech Grove on Jan. 4. The Falcons (8-1) are off to their best start in John Ashworth’s five-year tenure as head coach.
Class 3A Beech Grove (6-3) is led by senior F Jajuan Allison, who has averaged 17.8 points per game this season. Five of the Hornets’ first nine games have been Class 4A opponents – Beech Grove is 2-3 in those contests. I’m leaning towards the home team, but I would not be surprised if Beech Grove evens the season series on Tuesday night. The pick: Decatur Central
Franklin Central vs Perry Meridian
Franklin Central (8-2) is a good sleeper pick in the top half of the bracket. Led by Javon Small, Mason Gonzales and Jalen Hooks, this year’s team has already surpassed the Flashes’ win total over the past two seasons. A lot of credit goes to head coach Criss Beyers for quickly transforming this Franklin Central program.
Perry Meridian (5-7) has won two of their last three after losing four in a row through the latter portion of December. The Falcons feature a solid scorer with junior G Jayden Taylor. The Butler commit averages 22 points per game. Despite the recent momentum, I see Franklin Central getting the road win on Tuesday. The pick: Franklin Central
Speedway vs Ben Davis
The Sparkplugs (2-8) need a spark on offense – they’ve only averaged 44.4 points per game through 10 games this season. Sophomore G Reis Walker is the leading scorer for Speedway, averaging 9.7 points per game. Perhaps Speedway can flip a switch to the second half of the season when they visit Ben Davis on Tuesday night.
Ben Davis (3-7) is still searching for signs of consistency after suffering another setback to North Central. There’s been no homecourt advantage this season for the Giants. Through eight home games, Ben Davis has only won two of those contests. As long as Ben Davis doesn’t beat themselves on Tuesday, they should pick up home win number three on Tuesday night. The pick: Ben Davis
Roncalli vs Southport
The Rebels seem to be finding their groove heading into the county tournament. Roncalli (5-5) had won five straight before suffering a setback at Cathedral, 60-55. Daniel Asher and Anthony Donahue have both averaged double digits in points and have been the catalysts for this Rebels team.
Meanwhile, it’s been a roller coaster season for Southport (5-6). After winning their first three games, the Cardinals have lost six of their last eight. Southport has allowed more than 60 points in five of those contests. I predict an early exit for the hosting Cardinals. The Pick: Roncalli
Lawrence Central vs Brebeuf Jesuit
Lawrence Central (11-1) is looking to finish the job in this year’s tournament after finishing as runners-up to Warren Central last year. Much has been written about power-conference commits Nijel Pack and Dre Davis, but the Bears have a strong supporting cast with guys like Tae Davis, Jasen Graves and Greg Jenkins. Those role players will need to step up in some fashion if Lawrence Central is going to take home this year’s county title.
It was a mixed bag for Brebeuf (7-3) last week – the Braves lost at Zionsville, 48-34, on Friday night then bounced back with a 76-43 win against Speedway on Saturday. Brebeuf has four players that average double figures in points. Seniors Jay Higgins and Jayden McMullen will look to pull off the improbable first-round upset when they host Lawrence Central on Tuesday night. Brebeuf is 0-2 against Class 4A opponents this season. The pick: Lawrence Central
Lutheran vs Park Tudor
Lutheran’s season (6-4) has been a mixed bag with first-year head coach Remus Woods. Despite having a 6-4 record, their only win against a winning record was against Class A Southwestern. The Saints also have a -7 point differential through 10 games.
Park Tudor (4-5) has also had an uneven season under second-year head coach Tim Adams. The Panthers snapped a four-game losing streak last weekend with a narrow victory over Metropolitan. The Panthers have a solid group of shooters, including a talented scoring guard in Malachi Archey. This seems like an even matchup, but I will side with the hosting Panthers. The pick: Park Tudor
Warren Central vs Pike
This first-round matchup features the two teams that have combined to win the last five Marion County Tournaments.
It’s been a weekend to forget for Warren Central (8-2). After jumping to an 8-0 start, the Warriors lost back-to-back games at home to Lawrence North and at Hamilton Southeastern over the weekend. First-year head coach Garrett Winegar will need to turn the page as they visit a talented Pike team on Tuesday night that tends to play some of their best basketball during the county tournament.
The Red Devils (9-2) are off to the best start since the 2015-2016 season. Pike pulled off a big win at Fishers, 63-54, last Friday. Senior G Davion Bailey has led the way for the Red Devils averaging 15.9 points per game this season. Whoever wins this game has a solid chance of advancing to the semifinals at Southport Fieldhouse. The pick: Warren Central
SECOND ROUND – Wednesday, Jan. 15
All games tip off at 6:30 p.m.
SEMIFINALS – Friday, Jan. 17
Game 1 tips off at 6 p.m. with Game 2 following afterwards
CHAMPIONSHIP – Saturday, Jan. 18
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