Five teams in the Class A Oregon-Davis Sectional field have at least 10 wins, so South Central girls basketball coach Rick Budka was hardly expecting an easy draw.
The Satellites (12-6) will face Culver Community (11-8) on Feb. 5 in the opening round of the IHSAA tournament. Triton (15-5) will meet the winner in the semifinals, and the championship may feature No. 2 Oregon-Davis (17-3).
The Cavaliers defeated S.C. 56-39 in the season opener Nov. 8, and the Trojans routed the Satellites 69-36 on Nov. 16 in the fourth game of the season.
Freshman starters Riley Popplewell (12.0 ppg) and Morgan Wright (7.0) and sophomore first-year starter Madison Tomblin (6.83) have transformed their games in the span of the season. S.C. doesn't have a senior on the roster, and junior Jill Rosenbaum is the team's leading scorer (12.06 ppg).
"We're a totally different ball club," Budka said. "This team has really stuck together, and we've come a very long way. We have an opportunity at redemption."
The Satellites snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over Morgan Township on Saturday, clinching at least a share of the Porter County Conference regular-season title.
"We're not at the highest point of our season, but we're not at the lowest" said Budka, whose team plays O-D on Tuesday. "That game will be a barometer for us."
Boone Grove (13-6) has a first-round bye in the Class 2A Hebron Sectional, but it doesn't mean its championship path is less daunting. The Wolves will meet the winner of the game between the host Hawks (8-10) and No. 10 Winamac (14-4), which is the defending champion.
"Unfortunately, there's no easy road in our sectional," Wolves coach Candy Wilson said of a field where each team has at least eight victories. "Every game is a tough one. With the bye, we might have a little bit more time to rest."
Hebron defeated the Wolves 53-27 on Nov. 17, but leading scorer Paige Aguilera (14.56 ppg) missed the contest due to a scheduling conflict with an all-star soccer match.
Boone Grove, which lost in last year's opening round to Rochester, defeated the Winamac 49-38 on Jan. 7.
"It might make them want to beat us even more," Wilson said of possible rematch with the Warriors. "It also could give us a little confidence.
"Postseason is anyone's game. You try to focus on defense, but the ball going through your basket also solves a lot of problems."