Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 17, 2014

THE SKINNY: On to semistate

Determined Westview one game away from Indy

By DAVID VANTRESS david.vantress@goshennews.com
Goshen News

---- — NORTH JUDSON

Anyone who counts out the Westview boys basketball team does so at their own peril.

That should be obvious to anyone who follows the Warriors on a regular basis. But the boys from LaGrange County add new believers to that truism all the time.

Saturday at the Class 2A North Judson Regional, it was No. 5 Hammond Bishop Noll learning that particular lesson the hard way, headed home to Hammond on the losing end of a 75-64 score in the regional semifinal contest – a game that needed double overtime to settle.

The Warriors had already drawn the short end of the proverbial stick with the regional tournament draw, getting the second semifinal game of the day. The last thing they needed was an overtime game – let alone a double-overtime game.

As I watched Westview claw its way back from a 12-point deficit late in the game, my thoughts drifted back to the 2009 Class 2A regional tournament, on that same North Judson floor. After a similar late rally from a double-digit deficit to defeat Garrett in the semifinals, the Warriors led host North Judson for much of the championship before running out of gas in the fourth quarter and falling to the Blue Jays, 52-49.

That was a different Westview team, but this year’s team was determined to make amends for falling to LaVille in last year’s Westview Sectional championship.

They exorcised that ghost in the semifinals of this year’s sectional tournament, dispatching the Lancers before disposing of Bremen in the finals.

Now, after defeating Winamac Saturday night in the regional finals, it’s on to the Class 2A Northern Semistate. The Warriors (22-4) will face No. 7 Lewis Cass (22-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Huntington North High School.

It’s the first time in the semistate round for Westview since 2008, when the Warriors fell to a Fort Wayne Bishop Luers squad led by Ohio State commit DeShaun Thomas at Warsaw.

On paper, Cass and Westview appear to be pretty evenly matched: The Kings, members of the Mid-Indiana Conference, are the No. 8-rated team in Class 2A, according to Indiana prep hoop guru John Harrell’s must-bookmark website. Westview, meanwhile, is rated 10th. Both teams defeated Winamac.

Harrell predicts a 62-57 victory for Cass. But he also predicted a 10-point win for Noll, and we know how that worked out.

Sagarin ratings, poll rankings and what not are fun for geeky sportswriter types like myself to talk about. But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, games are not won or lost on paper or in Internet chatter.

It’s what takes place on the court that matters.

Just ask Hammond Noll about that.

Contact sports editor David Vantress at 533-2151, ext. 325 or by email at david.vantress@goshennews.com. Follow him on Twitter at dvantress_tgn.