By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — Year in and year out, the sectional tournament is full of surprises.
Those surprises could begin Sunday, though.
With seeding voting due to end at noon Saturday, the girls basketball sectional tournament draw will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon — and with the sheer amount of state-ranked teams going into the various brackets, it could cause plenty of unexpected matchups as many of Miami County’s teams look to avoid running into the state’s powerhouses too early in the tournament.
The Division II draw may be the most compelling overall. Not only does it include Miami County’s only state-ranked team, the Tippecanoe Red Devils, but it boasts three other familiar rivals from the Dayton area that currently sit in Ohio’s top 10.
In the Tecumseh sectional, Tippecanoe (16-3) is currently ranked seventh in the state, with Trotwood (14-5) — which the Devils own a head-to-head victory over — sitting one spot ahead in sixth. The favorite to get the top seed in the bracket is Carroll (16-2), which is currently ranked No. 3 in the state.
Where they go in the bracket, though, could be decided by where Alter goes in the Lebanon sectional. Should the Knights — the two-time defending state champions and currently No. 2 in the state behind undefeated Ottawa-Glandorf — go into the lower half of the bracket, they would be a potential district final matchup for the sectional champion from the upper half of the Tecumseh sectional.
Which all begs the question, what will teams decide? If Carroll gets the top seed, Tippecanoe the second and Trotwood the third as is expected, do either the Red Devils and Rams risk going into the same side as the Patriots, if it means they avoid potentially seeing Alter in the district round? The Patriots handily defeated the Devils 52-33 in their regular season matchup, but the Knights have eliminated Tippecanoe in the regional final during both of their state title runs in the past two seasons.
Kenton Ridge and Ben Logan also add a little drama to the Tecumseh draw, coming in with 12-7 records, but beyond that, above-.500 records are difficult to find in a loaded-yet-top-heavy bracket.
The Division I Dayton sectional is far more up in the air, with 21 teams being split up into three separate seven-team sectional brackets. The likely top seed is 18-2 Tecumseh, the lone state-ranked team in the draw at No. 8. Springboro (15-4), Wayne (15-4), Butler (14-5) and Centerville (13-5) will all be battling for the two and three seeds, with everyone else getting to pick their poison once the top three teams claim their individual brackets — unless any of them choose to jump into a bracket with each other, which, while always possible, is unlikely.
Sitting at 9-10 — the same spot they were last year heading into the draw — the Troy Trojans will be looking to snap a five-game postseason losing streak, with the last time the Trojans won a tournament game being the 2010-11 season. With 11 teams having the same record or better, though, Troy will likely get a seed somewhere in the middle depending on the coaches’ voting, meaning the Trojans will likely get another tough opening-round game.
In Division III, the Milton-Union Bulldogs have made a case for themselves lately, winning eight of their last nine, defeating previously-unbeaten and state-ranked Waynesville and coming in with a 14-5 record. That all should be good enough to get the Bulldogs a No. 3 or 4 seed, with 15-3 Versailles — ranked No. 8 in the state — or West Liberty-Salem — unranked in the state despite an 18-1 record — the probably top two seeds.
Arcanum will likely be be the Bulldogs’ closest competition for that all-important No. 3 seed, with 19 teams being split into three different brackets. But it could also mean that Milton-Union and Arcanum will ended up in the same bracket if they both try to avoid the top two teams. Arcanum defeated Milton-Union 45-33 early in the season, back on Dec. 10. — but the Bulldogs have only lost twice since then.
Miami East (8-11) and Bethel, meanwhile, will be stuck in the dreaded pick-your-poison seeds in the middle, and there may not be many choices left by the time they get to take their spots on the brackets.
In the Division IV Sidney draw, Troy Christian (13-5) is one of only five teams in the 12-team bracket with a winning record. In years past, though, the Eagles have struggled no matter how high a seed they get, as the MAC and Shelby County League teams have dominated it over the years. Jackson Center (13-3) and Russia (15-4) are just outside the state rankings at No. 11 and 14, respectively, with Fort Loramie (12-5) and Botkins (12-6) also in the mix. No matter where Troy Christian goes in the bracket, it will likely find a tough game.
And in the D-IV Brookville bracket, there’s plenty of tough teams to be found, as well, with undefeated Tri-Village (18-0) — the No. 2 team in the state — an easy pick for the top seed. Covington (15-5) and Newton (10-6) will be in the mix for higher seeds along with Miami Valley (13-3), Southeastern (14-5) and Legacy Christian (13-5), meaning the road to even a sectional title is guaranteed to be a difficult one, with Bradford (5-12) likely to get one of the lower seeds and be stuck with a tough opener.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.