“Their record is not that great but a lot of times teams start the year off kind of bad. They’ve won seven of their last eight and they’re playing good right now,” Jennings said.
Carroll’s height advantage concerns Hoover.
“They’re getting better and better and they’re big. They’ve got a good coach and any time that you’re in this situation you’re going to run into a good team,” he said.
Homestead enters as the favorite to win the regional. The Spartans’ lone loss was to defending 4A state champion Bedford North Lawrence at the Hall of Fame Classic in late December. The Spartans have five starters back from last year’s team that lost to Fort Wayne South Side by one point in the sectional final. South Side went on to defeat Logan in regional play before letting a fourth-quarter lead slip away against Bedford in a three-point loss in the state title game. Homestead knocked off South Side 79-70 in this year’s sectional final.
Likely Indiana All-Star Sydney Buck leads the Spartans with a 17.7-ppg average and the Butler recruit shoots 47.4 percent from 3. Freshman Karissa McLaughlin averages 17.1 ppg and shoots 39.2 percent from beyond the arc. Josie Fisher adds 11.5 ppg and 6-foot junior Grace German posts 10.5 ppg and 8.8 rpg.
Fishers won the always formidable Sectional 8, bouncing strong teams from Noblesville and Westfield by double digits to win the title.
The Tigers are led by Kara Gerka (16.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Alex Hochstedler (15.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Brooke Sugg (10.1 ppg) and Audriana Murphy (8.1 ppg).
While Homestead averages 74.8 ppg, Fishers allows just 38.5.
“Homestead, I’ve seen them play and they’re very good. Same with Fishers. I think that could potentially be a really, really good game,” Jennings said.
The Berries won their second straight sectional title, third straight North Central Conference title and were the champions of the Twin Lakes Holiday Tournament this season. Their lone losses were a one-point loss on a last-second 3-pointer to Gary West at the Region Roundball Rumble on New Year’s Day and four-point loss at Carmel on Jan. 18. They enter having won eight straight games.
“Looking back we could have gone undefeated. We lost a close one to Gary West and Carmel, we should have won that, we didn’t play our best,” Jennings said. “But I feel like after those two games we started to pick it up a little bit.”