On paper, Hamilton Southeastern girls basketball coach Chris Huppenthal knows many people will consider his team's draw for the Class 4A Westfield Sectional a good one.
Just don't expect him to say that.
Hamilton Southeastern, ranked seventh in the Sagarin rankings with a 17-3 record, drew a bye for the first round of the high school girls basketball state tournament that begins Feb. 5. The Royals will await the winner of Noblesville-Zionsville; they beat the Millers by 23 points on Dec. 7, and the Eagles by 45 points on Jan. 12.
That leaves four teams ranked in the top 40 of the Sagarin ratings in the bottom half of the draw. Westfield (17-2, 18th) will meet defending state champion North Central (10-7, 19th) in one quarterfinal; Fishers (12-7, 28th) will meet Carmel (10-8, 40th) in the other.
"On paper the draw looks good, but if our team thinks Noblesville or Zionsville is going to show up and just hand us anything, it's going to be a long night," Huppenthal said.
The Royals entered last season's tournament undefeated but lost to eventual champion North Central, which had five losses, in the opening round.
Winning a sectional, not avenging that loss, is at the forefront for HSE.
"We kind of have last year buried and have moved on," Huppenthal said.
Noblesville is ranked 29th in the Sagarin, giving the Westfield Sectional five teams ranked in the top 30.
"I would say it's the toughest in the state every year," said Westfield coach Shane Sumpter. "You're going to have to play three really good teams to win this sectional."
The Franklin Sectional is the only other in the state to boast at least three teams in the top 30 of the Sagarin: Franklin Central (third), Center Grove (eighth) and Greenwood (21st.)