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Conference races heat up in second week of 2018

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

The various conference races for boys and girls high school basketball are taking shape in this second week of 2018. With only about three weeks left in the regular season, the girls races are winding down, but most of the conference races for the boys teams are heating up.

For the first time in several years, each of the six area schools is involved in a conference, and winning a conference championship is a goal of every team.

Hoosier Heritage Conference Girls

Right now, four teams have just one loss on the girls side of the HHC race. New Palestine and Pendleton Heights are both 5-1, Greenfield-Central is 3-1, and Mt. Vernon (Fortville) stands at 2-1.

New Castle (2-3) cannot win the conference title this season, but does have a say in who might win or tie for it, as the Trojans travel to Greenfield-Central tonight and Mt. Vernon (Fortville) Jan. 23 to close the regular season. New Castle can finish as high as third in the HHC if it wins its final two conference tests.

The Trojans’ Cameron Tabor was named HHC Player of the Week for her performance in New Castle’s victories over Blackford and Wapahani.

Yorktown (3-3) plus Delta and Shelbyville (both 0-5) also have no shot at a conference championship this year.

Hoosier Heritage Conference Boys

Class 3A No. 1 New Castle leads the HHC boys conference race with a 3-0 record. Pendleton Heights still is undefeated in the league, but it has played only one HHC game. Shelbyville and New Palestine are next at 2-1 apiece, and the Trojans have given both of those teams their lone conference defeat.

Both New Castle’s Luke Bumbalough and Mason Gillis received mention in this week’s HHC boys basketball report for their play in games in late December.

Delta also has just one league loss and stands 1-1. Greenfield-Central is 1-2, Mt. Vernon (Fortville) 1-3, and Yorktown 0-3.

The Trojans have three conference tests left on the road (Greenfield-Central tonight, Yorktown Jan. 19, and Pendleton Heights Feb. 13) and only one left at home (Delta Feb. 8).

If form holds, the Trojans and Arabians will play for the conference championship (as they usually do) Feb. 13 in Pendleton.

Tri-Eastern Conference Girls

Winchester (6-0) already has clinched a share of the conference championship and can claim the title outright with a victory at Centerville Jan. 15 or at home against Northeastern Jan. 24. The Golden Falcons will be heavy favorites in both games.

Should Winchester stumble in its final two league contests, Cambridge City Lincoln (4-2), Union County (3-2) and Hagerstown (3-2) have a chance to grab a share of the conference championship by winning out.

Hagerstown played at Cambridge City Lincoln Thursday night, and travels to Northeastern Jan. 16 before hosting Union City Jan. 26.

Tri (4-3) cannot win the conference title but can have a winning record in the league with a win against Centerville Jan. 18. Union City (3-4), Northeastern (2-3), Centerville (1-5), and Knightstown (0-5) also are out of title consideration and are intent on finishing the regular season strongly.

Knightstown hosts Northeastern Saturday and is at Cambridge City Lincoln Jan. 16 and at Union County Jan. 18.

Tri-Eastern Conference Boys

As is true for most boys conferences around the state, it’s still too early to tell how the TEC race will end.

Union County (3-0) leads the league right now and Northeastern (1-0) is the only other team with no conference losses.

In its first season in the league, Knightstown has a fine 3-1 mark. The Panthers quickly will determine their chance for a title, as their next three games are against league opponents: tonight at home against Centerville, at home versus Northeastern Saturday, and at Winchester Jan. 20. Knightstown then ends its conference schedule at home against Hagerstown Feb. 17.

Three teams stand at 1-1 apiece, Winchester, Hagerstown, and Tri. The Tigers are at Winchester tonight, and then host Union City Jan. 26, Northeastern Feb. 1, and Cambridge City Lincoln Feb. 6, travel to Knightstown Feb. 17, and host Tri Feb. 20.

The Titans host Cambridge City Lincoln tonight, are at Union County Jan. 19 and at Winchester Jan. 26, host Northeastern Feb. 10, and finish conference wars at Centerville Feb. 16 and at Hagerstown Feb. 20.

Cambridge City Lincoln (0-1), Centerville (0-2), and Union City (0-3) still are looking for their initial conference win, but are not out of the race.

Mid-Eastern Conference Girls

Both Wapahani (7-0) and Class 2A No. 4 Monroe Central (6-0) are the only undefeated teams in the MEC, and the Golden Bears haven’t lost to anyone all season (17-0). Both teams control their own destinies.

Monroe Central should move to 7-0 with a victory at Union (Modoc) tonight, and then hosts Wapahani Jan. 17 and Randolph Southern (5-1) Jan. 27. The Golden Bears already own a victory over the Rebels 48-39 in the championship game of the Randolph County Tournament.

Wapahani’s only other league game is against Shenandoah (5-2) at home on Jan. 25.

Randolph Southern still has an outside shot at the title, and Shenandoah still can tie for it, but the only way it can happen is for Shenandoah to win at Cowan Jan. 16 and at Wapahani, Wapahani lose to Monroe Central, Monroe Central to lose to both Union and Randolph Southern, and the Rebels to lose at home to either Blue River Saturday or Eastern Hancock Jan. 23, an unlikely scenario indeed.

Eastern Hancock (4-3), Blue River (4-4), Daleville (2-5), Wes-Del (1-7), Cowan (1-7), and and Union (0-7) have no shot at a conference title this season, but the Royals and Vikings can finish with solid winning seasons with victories in their remaining games.

Mid-Eastern Conference Boys

Absolutely nothing is settled yet in the MEC boys race, but Shenandoah (in its first year in the league) knows it controls its own destiny of an undisputed conference title, as it is the only team with an undefeated record (3-0) in the league.

However, the Raiders have not yet played Monroe Central (4-1), Eastern Hancock (3-1), and Wapahani (2-1), probably the three toughest challengers for the MEC championship. Two of those tests are coming up fairly quickly.

After a non-conference game tonight, Shenandoah hosts Monroe Central Saturday, entertains Wes-Del Jan. 19, plays at Eastern Hancock Jan. 20, and host Cowan Jan. 23. The Raiders get a break from conference wars until they play at Union (Modoc) Feb. 13 and at Wapahani Feb. 23 to end the regular season.

Cowan is next in the MEC at 1-1, followed by Blue River Valley (2-2). The Vikings still are not out of the conference race, but can’t afford any more losses. Blue River is at Randolph Southern tonight, hosts Monroe Central Jan. 26, plays at Union (Modoc) Feb. 6, and hosts Eastern Hancock Feb. 13 and Wes-Del Feb. 16.

Randolph Southern (2-3), Daleville (2-4), Wes-Del (1-4), and Union (0-3) are the conference records for the rest of the league teams.