By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — After a week of fits and starts and stops, the Madison County Basketball Tournament may finally begin tonight.
Unless Mother Nature intervenes one more time.
Tonight’s openers, originally scheduled for Monday, will begin at 6 p.m. at three sites with girls contests. The boys games will follow about 30 minutes after the girls finish.
Those three sites are Anderson (vs. Pendleton Heights), Frankton (vs. Elwood) and Liberty Christian (vs. Alexandria)
Due to Anderson Preparatory Academy not having a girls team, there will be just one game at Lapel where the Bulldogs host the Jets at 7:30 p.m.
The girls will take Saturday off and resume their part of the tournament with second-round games at Elwood on Monday and the final round at Elwood on Tuesday.
For the boys it is a bit more complicated. On Saturday the second round is all at Pendleton Heights. There will be two consolation games at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., followed by the two winners’ bracket semis at 3 and 5 p.m.
The boys will finish on Monday. The loser of tonight’s boys game between Anderson and Pendleton Heights will host the consolation round finals at 6 and 7:30 p.m. The winner of that game Monday will host the third-place and championship games at 6 and 7:30, respectively.
Normally at this time the conversation would be about getting ready for that first-round foe. Now the talk is about getting the players physically ready to play three games in four days for the boys and three games in five days for the girls when nobody has played in nearly a week.
For example, the Frankton girls haven’t played since two days before Christmas. The Liberty Christian boys haven’t played since two days after Christmas.
The Frankton boys are unbeaten after eight games and ranked No. 2 in 2A according to the latest Associated Press poll.
“One good thing for us is that we played three games over the break,” said Eagles coach Brent Brobston. “We don’t have a lot of time to prepare. But every team faces a similar situation of not being able to practice because of the weather.”
Many coaches have not seen all of their varsity players since last weekend. Some have been able to open the gym doors and allow players to come in if they felt they could make the trip safely, but it was purely voluntary.
“This time off coming right after the break, you’d expect teams to come in a little rusty,” said PH boys coach Brian Hahn. “I think it favors the deeper team and the more experienced team.”
For the Lady Tribe, one of the favorites to win the county title, they have a North Central Conference game against New Castle on Saturday. “We were looking at having to play four games in four days,” said Anderson coach Chad Cook. “Now we’ll have four games in five days. But we play the fourth toughest schedule in the state and it has taught us to be ready for every game.”
The Lapel girls are sitting in a unique spot that might be a blessing or a curse. They have a bye in the first round so they won’t play until Monday. That means the once-beaten and No. 3-ranked Bulldogs will have 16 days between games by the time they play the winner of the Frankton vs. Elwood first-round contest.
“You worry about them being in shape,” said Lapel coach Kevin Brattain. “By this time in the season, they either know what you’re doing or they don’t.”
That question will be answered tonight.