By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
It will have been nearly three weeks since Madison-Grant’s boys basketball team last played a game by the time the Argylls hit the court Friday at the Class 2A sectional in Tipton.
It put coach John Irwin in the odd position of rooting against a bye, even though he now has a shorter path to Saturday’s championship game.
“We dropped Northfield, and we couldn’t get anybody to put us in that place (on their schedule) this year,” Irwin said. “It’s not the best of situations, but we’ll make it work.”
Even with the long layoff — the team hasn’t played since Feb. 12 — Madison-Grant (8-12) got the best draw of the three local teams in this six-team field.
Elwood (11-10) has the best record but got the toughest first-round assignment. The Panthers will face host Tipton (20-2), ranked No. 2 in the state, in the 8 p.m. game Tuesday.
The bracket opens with Alexandria (4-17) squaring off against Eastern (3-17) at 6 p.m. The winner will be the Argylls’ long-awaited next opponent.
If the long break has any benefit for Madison-Grant, it might help to eliminate any chance of the team looking ahead to a possible sectional title game on Saturday.
“We’ve got to win on Friday night first,” Irwin said. “And that could mean beating Alexandria twice, or beating a team in Eastern that we haven’t played at all.”
One thing that seems undeniable is the Blue Devils’ status as the tournament favorite. Star Mike Crawford is committed to St. Louis University and averages 27.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
“I’ve watched them play several times,” Irwin said. “The Crawford kid is one of the best I’ve seen.”
The Elwood-Tipton winner will face Taylor (5-16) in Saturday’s second semifinal. The Panthers have a balanced offensive attack led by juniors Jared Bourff and Anthony Bennett and likely will attempt to slow down the tempo and make the Blue Devils grind things out.
Alexandria has a potent scorer of its own in senior Landon Breese, and Madison-Grant relies on star seniors Jeremy Johnson and Tyler McClellan.
For the Argylls, the old adage of the postseason as the “second” season takes on new relevance this year.
“We’re approaching it like we did the first part of the season,” Irwin said. “We’re waiting for any kid to step up. We’ve had a pretty good week of practice so far. We’ll see how it goes.”