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WATCH NOW: What to know ahead of Kouts', West Side's semistate appearances
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BOYS BASKETBALL | SEMISTATE PREVIEWS

WATCH NOW: What to know ahead of Kouts', West Side's semistate appearances

Kouts will make its third semistate appearance in program history Saturday, while West Side has advanced to semistate for the sixth time.

Both Region programs have ended long droughts to reach the final four of their respective classes in the IHSAA's 111th annual state tournament. For the Mustangs, this is their first semistate appearance in 20 seasons, and for the Cougars, this is their first trip to semistate since 2005.

Kouts, ranked No. 3 in Class A by the Associated Press, has never advanced to a state championship. The Mustangs will try to change that Saturday at noon against Southwood in the Lafayette Jefferson Semistate.

Afterward, West Side, ranked No. 10 in Class 4A, will take on No. 2 Carmel at 2:45 p.m. for the chance to appear in its third state final.

Here's what you need to know about the last two Region teams left standing and their upcoming opponents.

Class 4A No. 10 West Side (22-4)

Offensive average: 64.2 points per game

Defensive average: 47.6 points per game

Key players: F Jalen Washington (12.8 points, 6.0 rebounds), G Quimari Peterson (13.6 points, 4.0 assists), F Chrishawn Christmas (10.5 points, 6.2 rebounds), C Mason Nicholson (6.4 rebounds)

No. 2 Carmel (24-2)

Offensive average: 55.6 points per game

Defensive average: 40.1 points per game

Key players: G/F Brian Waddle (15.7 points, 6.2 rebounds), G/F Peter Suder (12.0 points, 6.5 rebounds), F Charlie Williams (7.1 points, 4.3 rebounds)

Coach's thoughts: "(Carmel) has a winning pedigree, and they've been a successful program for a long time," West Side coach Chris Buggs said. " ... They have (Waddle) and a couple other guys who have size and versatility and they can shoot. They're really smart and play clean basketball, so we're going to have to really lock in mentally and be alert on defense to be successful against them and stop them from scoring. Our defense has really stepped up within the last month, and as long as we continue to play defense, I think we'll have a chance to win the game."

Class A No. 3 Kouts (28-2)

Offensive average: 75.5 points per game

Defensive average: 52.1 points per game

Key players: G Cole Wireman (26.0 points, 3.9 rebounds), G Cale Wireman (16.5 points, 3.6 assists), F Hunter Kneifel (10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds), F Parker Kneifel (9.7 points, 6.7 rebounds)

Southwood (17-10)

Offensive average: 65.2 points per game

Defensive average: 53.4 points per game

Key players: G Carson Rich (23.2 points, 6.0 rebounds), G Connor Rich (8.1 points, 2.6 steals), F Dawson Filip (9.6 points, 3.5 assists), F Cole Winer (9.5 points, 3.6 rebounds)

Coach's thoughts: "I think the first key for us will be handling their 32 minutes of relentless ball pressure," Kouts coach Kevin Duzan said. "They're going to be (defending) full court on makes or misses, and when you get to the half court they drop back into a 2-3 zone. It's not one of those sit back in the lane type of 2-3 zones either. They get up and guard. So, we're going to have to handle the ball, make layups and we can't let them speed us up faster than we already want to play. And then defensively, they have a nice player in Carson Rich. We can't let him get hot. ... We're going to challenge him to shoot shots that he's not as comfortable with, and we have to hold them to one shot on their possessions."

Gallery: 4A regional — West Side vs. South Bend Riley

Gallery: Class A regional — Kouts vs. Triton

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Lake County Sports Reporter

James Boyd is the Lake County prep sports reporter for The Times. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a proud native of Romeoville, Illinois. Before anything else, his main goal in life is to spread love and light.

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