You might think that Merrillville boys basketball coach T.J. Lux would be a little nervous about his Pirates' chances in the postseason. The Bucs' 60-51 loss at Valparaiso on Friday might suggest such a thing.
But on Sunday afternoon, after the IHSAA state tournament draw was released, Lux said his senior-laden team and defending champions of the Class 4A Michigan City Sectional were more than ready to go.
"I think we're just ready, we're ready for the tournament," said Lux, whose team will play Hobart in the first round. "We've had a good regular season, we've been winning games. Our guys are just ready for the tournament to get started."
When asked if losing to Valpo would be a wake-up call, Lux was emphatic.
"It better be," he said.
Top-ranked Munster got a tough draw in the Class 4A West Side Sectional. The Mustangs open against E.C. Central. If they win, they'll likely play West Side in the semifinal, and Lake Central could be waiting in the championship game.
Munster hung on to beat Andrean on Friday night 52-50. The Class 3A No. 3 59ers had a 3-pointer bounce off the rim just before the final horn.
Andrean coach Carson Cunningham hopes his players get a boost from playing Munster so close. The 'Niners open against the host Kougars in the Kankakee Valley Sectional.
Andrean beat K.V. 78-39 on Dec. 14.
"We open with the home team and that's always dangerous," Cunningham said. "We've got to finish off the regular season and then laser in on our first-round sectional opponent.
"This tournament is all about surviving and advancing. Munster helps us. Our guys know when we play well we can play with anyone. We just have to be ready because K.V. has some nice wins."
The one team that got a break with the draw is Hanover Central, also in the K.V. sectional. The Wildcats have won seven in a row and drew a bye. The 'Cats will play the winner of Knox (2-17) and Calumet (5-14).
Hanover coach Bryon Clouse's team already won the Porter County Conference tournament, which is set up like a sectional.
"It came out well for us," Clouse said. "The two teams with the highest Sagarin ratings are on the other side. The two with the lowest are on our side.
"The PCC tournament is set up like the sectional. There is no one there with the talent of Andrean, but our guys have been through this before. We need to get there and see what we can do against them."