By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Bedford North Lawrence drew a coveted bye into the semifinal round of the Class 4A sectional at Seymour.
The Stars (14-9) will await the winner of the first-round clash between New Albany (14-8) and Jennings County (12-10) in the second semifinal on March 6.
Jeffersonville, 16-5 and the pre-tournament favorite, will meet host Seymour (8-12) in the opening game on March 3 at 6 p.m., while the Bulldogs and Panthers will collide in the second game.
Floyd Central (15-6) also received a bye and will face the Jeffersonville-Seymour winner in the first semifinal on March 6 at 6 p.m. The championship is set for March 7 at 7:30 p.m.
In what is arguably the most balanced sectional in the state, receiving a bye was seen as crucial. BNL coach Jeff Hein was happy to get one of the golden tickets to the second round.
“I like what we got,” Hein said. “Yeah, we’re happy with it. Any time you only have to win two games to win the sectional, it beats the heck out of winning three.
“Anything can happen on any given night, we say that all the time, but that’s really the case in this tournament. I don’t see any game that can be penciled in.”
No matter which team advances to face the Stars, it will be an opponent that has already conquered BNL. Jennings County clipped the Stars 74-68 on Jan. 18 at Jennings, and New Albany edged BNL 44-41 last week at New Albany in a game that likely cost the Stars a share of the Hoosier Hills Conference title.
”I really feel a lot better about our team since we played Jennings, and we didn’t have our ‘A’ game against New Albany,” Hein said. “They’re a good defensive team, but I don’t think we were at our very best that night. At least now, on a neutral court, we have a chance to beat them.
“This time of year, everyone is 0-0. You lace them up and see who plays better that night. It will be nice to have a full week to prepare. It’s kind of nice to only prepare for two teams over the next two weeks.”
New Albany conquered Jennings 56-43 on Feb. 6 at Jennings.
“There was nobody where I was sitting around thinking ‘Yeah, we want to draw them,’” New Albany coach Jim Shannon said. “Now you have to throw Bedford in there, there’s no question about that.
“I still think Jeffersonville is the most talented. If they’re shooting the ball, they’re a difficult team to stop. After them, you can make a case for anybody.”
The Red Devils, the defending sectional champions, defeated the Owls 56-40 at Seymour on Dec. 13. In a potential rematch with Floyd Central, Jeffersonville won a thriller (49-46) with a last-second shot on Jan. 17 at Floyd.
BNL is chasing its first sectional title since 2001.
The sectional champion will advance to the two-game regional at Seymour on March 14.
CLASS 4A SECTIONAL 15
Tuesday, March 3 – Seymour (8-12) vs. Jeffersonville (16-5), 6 p.m.
Tuesday, March 3 – New Albany (14-8) vs. Jennings County (12-10), 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 6 – Floyd Central (15-6) vs. Seymour-Jeffersonville winner, 6 p.m.
Friday, March 6 – BNL (14-9) vs. Jennings County-New Albany winner, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 7 – Championship, 7:30 p.m.