Bloomington South Takes Sectional Three-Peat

It had been 40 years since a basketball sectional had been held in Bloomington. What better way to kick it off than a North v. South matchup in Friday’s sectional semi-final. South, playing on their home court, completed the regular season with a 20-2 record against North’s 12-8 mark. The Panthers defeated North at home earlier in the season 86-55.

Both teams started off slow as the intensity of South gym brought about a very anxious beginning for both squads. South entered halftime with a 28-24 lead. South however did just enough to hold off the Cougars 54-46. The Panthers came up with timely plays and a handful of key offensive rebounds late. North shot only 8-23 from the foul line or it could very well have been a stunner in Bloomington to start the 101st IHSAA Boys State Tournament. South coach JR Holmes was not pleased with their effort even with the win.

Saturday’s sectional final was a different story for South. They took on a young Columbus East team that pulled two upsets over East Central (16-6) and Columbus North (13-7) in route to the sectional finals. Columbus East finished the regular season with a 7-14 record but their head coach and former South player, Brent Chitty, introduced a new zone defense that shut down East Central and Columbus North. That same zone defense however didn’t faze Bloomington South. The Panthers were dominant from the beginning led by Spencer Turner who knocked down four 3’s in the first quarter alone finishing with a game-high 24.

South wrapped up their third straight sectional championship with a final score of 66-34 over Columbus East. The Panthers got to cut down the nets in their own gymnasium. The win also completed a perfect 48-0 mark for the seniors on their home court.

Up next for South is the New Albany Bulldogs at 10 am on Saturday in Seymour. The Bulldogs have been a perennial power in the state over the past decade and have hit their best stride late in the season after the return of their injured star point guard Chris Whitehead. New Albany took care of Bedford North Lawrence in the final of the Seymour sectional and will be playing in the same gymnasium Saturday morning.

These two teams met up in the exact same regional semi-final two years ago when both teams were undefeated. Bloomington South won that game on their way to a perfect 26-0 season that culminated with a 4A state title. Saturday morning will give a solid indication on whether or not the Panthers are poised to repeat that magical run from two years ago.

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