Pizza Hut Classic PreviewDecember 19th, 2012 at 4:52 pm by Ross Rowling under Sports, WTHI Blog
The Pizza Hut Classic gets going the day after Christmas this year. The eight first round matchups all have some capacity of intrigue. Unique storylines across the board, day one promises to be a phenomenal day of basketball. After the first day, one things for certain, eight teams will have a chance to win the tournament and eight teams won’t. Let’s take a look at each of the first round matchups.
Game 1: Owen Valley vs. Shakamak 10:00 AM
The tournament kicks off at ten o’ clock on Wednesday with Shakamak and Owen Valley. Both teams in this game come in with losing records. The Patriots lost lots of talent from last years 9-14 club. Shakamak was 14-9 last season, but lost heart and soul point guard Brock Dowell. The Lakers new go-to-guy is forward Brodie Crowe. Crowe can flat out score, with multiple 20-point performances this year including a 38-point outburst against Union. Think Crowe is the difference in this one.
Game 2: Northview vs. Monrovia 11:30 AM
Monrovia comes into this one at 3-1 compared to Northview’s3-2 mark. Under new Head Coach Clint Weddle the Knights lost the first two games of the season to very tough Terre Haute North and Vincennes Lincoln teams. Since then they’ve won three straight including a 14 -point win over rival West Vigo. The Knights have tons of quality size inside that can make for matchup problems for opponents throughout this tournament. However, what separates the Knights from Monrovia is point guard Craig Peters. Peters can score attacking the rim or by shooting from the perimeter. He’ll make the all tournament team and the Knights get to the winners side.
Game 3: Terre Haute South vs. Robinson 1:00 PM
This game should be one of the games that draws an electric crowd on day 1. The host school comes in with a 3-5 record, but they do have a big win over Center Grove under their belt. The Braves play through senior Jeffrey Turner. Turner can score in a variety of ways, with deep range and the size and strength to muscle up inside. The Braves key will be a scoring compliment when teams key on Turner. Sophomore Timmy Herrin could make a splash inside and guard Kevaris Gregory can light it up from beyond the arc if he gets hot. The Braves did not get a great draw in this one. They open with a 9-1 team from Robinson that is every bit as good as their record. Their only loss on the year came to Illinois powerhouse Teutopolis. Robinson may have the best trio of players in this tournament. Aaron Siler leads the way at the point. He handles the rock, has a high basketball IQ, and balances scoring and running the offense to perfection. Drew Nicholas brings toughness to the paint. He’s a good scorer around the rim and has a big time motor that allows him to record gaudy rebounding numbers. The x-factor for Robinson is forward Michael Akande. He is a supreme athlete that uses his length to get in passing lanes and can flat out attack the rim and elevate above defenses. The Braves will go to the championship game; unfortunately for them it will be the consolation championship because this Robinson team is so good. The Maroons could be the tournament favorites.
Game 4: Terre Haute North vs. Turkey Run 2:30 PM
Speaking of tournament favorites, the two time defending champions have to be in the conversation. With Matt O’Leary at Loyola and Ross Sponsler at Wabash, two huge pieces are missing from last year’s winners. Replacing them in the Patriots starting lineup are Casey Vickers and Stephen Davis. Both Vickers and Davis can put up big numbers on any given night. With Nate Jahn, Austin Lewis, and Calvin Blank returning to start alongside Vickers and Davis the Patriots can do a bit of everything. Blank is a beast in the paint. The Ball State football recruit is incredibly strong in the post. Another D-1 football player, Lewis is a freak athlete and a machine attacking the rim. Jahn is pure point guard. He doesn’t look to score much, and doesn’t need to. He leaves it all on the floor and gets everyone involved in the offense. The Patriots pride themselves on defense, and do it as well as anyone. Turkey Run comes into this one winless. Talented guard Jeff Woods is sidelined with two broken wrists from a football injury. The Warriors are the smallest school in the tournament and the Patriots are the biggest. With Woods, this game would be really tough for the Warriors. Without him, well lets just say the Patriots are the Pizza Hut Champs until someone else can knock them off.
Pick: Terre Haute North
Game 5: Marshall vs. West Vigo 4:00 PM
As we move over the halfway mark, we find a matchup of two teams that are missing two players that won over the crowds in last year’s tournament. Jacob Duncan and Jordan Houser are now teammates at Lincoln Trail. In the 16-team field, maybe no two players meant more to last years teams than Duncan and Houser. These two teams met in the third place game last season and the Lions won a tight ballgame 49-47. This years teams are quite different. AdrienCorenflos, Cade Lindsay, and Kyle Stewart pace the 4-2 Vikings while Marshall big man Taylor Maurer and guard Thomas Sisson lead the Lions. Joe Boehler and Tom Brannan both maximize the talent on their rosters, and this one promises to be a hard fought matchup. At the end of the day, the Vikings won’t have the size to matchup with 6’5” Maurer. Lions advance.
Game 6: Rockville vs. Casey-Westfield 5:30 PM
If you’re a hoops fan and get off work at 5:00, head over to Terre Haute South because this one should be spectacular. The worst part of this game is that both of these teams can’t advance to the winners bracket. At the time of writing both of these teams are undefeated. (both have tough games over the weekend). With Lane Mahurin (Rockville) and Brandon Wolfe (Casey) each team boasts go-to players that can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the tournament. As good as Mahurin and Wolfe are, these teams are far from a one-man show. Alongside Mahurin, the Rox have an incredible sharpshooter in Gary Ulrich. Jordan McFall presents a tough matchup with size and ability to step out and drill a three. It will be interesting to see when Joel Whittenmeyer returns from suspension. It looks to be sometime during the tournament. He’s got tons of athleticism and could be the lock down defender that puts the Rox over the edge. On the other side, the Warriors unheralded hero is Zack Murphy. The junior point guard can score when he needs to and distributes it well. More importantly he’s a terrific defender and his football prowess gives him an edge on the glass. Murphy is a stat stuffer across the board. Matt McCown gives the Warriors some size up front. With defenses keyed on Wolfe and Murphy, Trivette Scales could fly under the radar and have a huge tournament. After missing the first three games of the season with a wrist injury, he averaged nearly 18 points per game in his first three games back. This one is impossible to predict, the winner will probably be the favorite to advance to the title from the bottom of the bracket. I think it comes down to the final possession, and I like the Warriors multiple options that can get to the rim.
Game 7: South Vermillion vs. Riverton Parke 7:00 PM
The 7:00 game features a couple of teams that know each other very well. South Vermillion and Riverton Parke are located 9 miles from each other. Both schools have been very competitive this season. This is another tough game to judge. The Wildcats come in at 2-3 while the Panthers are .500 at 3-3. The only common opponent is Rockville. The Class A top ranked Rox beat South Vermillion by 38 and Riverton Parke by 33. The Panthers have averaged 61 points in their three wins and 37 points in three losses. South Vermillion is giving up 68 points per game this season. I think the Panthers get to 60 and move to the winners bracket in another close game.
Game 8: Linton-Stockton vs. Sullivan 8:30 PM
The Pizza Hut draw means back-to-back matchups for Linton and Sullivan. The Miners and Arrows met in Sullivan on December 15th and it was a dandy. Linton knocked off Sullivan 60-55 in overtime. This matchup pits Linton’s fantastic frontcourt against one of the best guards in the tournament in Sullivan’s Brooks Weszely. A running back on the football team, Weszely is strong with the ball and powerful on his way to the rim. He can score from beyond the arc and takes care of the basketball. Alongside Craig Peters from Northview, Weszely may be one of the least known players in the field that should end up on the all-tournament team. Linton’s attack is centered around their frontcourt. Austin Karazsia can score and rebound on the interior. At 6’7” he gives the Miners one of the few dominant big men in this tournament. Dess Fougerousse is also a prolific scorer. His ranginess on the perimeter is tough for opponents. With opposing centers forced to guard Karazsia, Fougerousse usually has either a speed or size advantage on anyone guarding him. Steady point guard Sam Dyar will take care of the ball. This one goes down to the wire again, ending a thrilling first day of the tournament. Weszely goes for 25, but it’s not quite enough and Linton moves into the winners bracket.