On paper, Hamilton Southeastern 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 come out and say the same.
Hamilton Southeastern, ranked seventh in the Sagarin rankings with a 17-3 record, drew a bye. The Royals will await the winner of Noblesville-Zionsville; after beating 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, ranked 18th in the Sagarin) will meet defending state champion North Central (10-7, 19th) in one quarterfinal; while 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, admitting the bye is a big advantage.
If any team knows how the tournament doesn't always play out as expected, it would be Hamilton Southeastern. 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.
The Franklin Sectional is the only other in the state to boast at least three teams in the top-30 of the Sagarin, with Franklin Central (third), Center Grove (eighth) and Greenwood (21st.)
"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."
Brownsburg senior Stephanie Mavunga is likely a lock to earn a spot on the Indiana All-Star team later this summer.
A sectional championship is one of the last pieces missing from Mavunga's resume. The North Carolina recruit could make a strong case for IndyStar Miss Basketball with a deep tournament run.
"I think the tournament is where the great players step up and lead their teams," Brauman said. "Stephanie has been doing that for us and has been playing especially well the past two or three games."
If Brownsburg is to make a deep run in Class 4A, it will likely have to get past county rival Ben Davis in the semifinals. The Giants have eliminated the Bulldogs the past three seasons.
Ben Davis (10-10) will meet Decatur Central (7-12) in one quarterfinal, with the survivor meeting the winner of Brownsburg (15-3) and Southport (8-9). Pike (15-4) will meet Avon (5-15) in a third quarterfinal, with the winner meeting Perry Meridian (9-9), which received a bye.
"I think a majority of the teams in the sectional know each other very well since most of us play each other," Brownsburg coach Amy Brauman said. "I think at this point it's about execution."
Lawrence C. Sectional
Roncalli can avenge two of its losses this season in a big way by beating Lawrence North, currently ranked No. 1 in the Sagarin.
The Rebels (17-3) hope the third time will be the charm against the Wildcats, assuming they get the opportunity.
Cathedral (7-12) drew a bye and awaits the winner between Roncalli and Warren Central, which had to forfeit its only three wins this season.
Tech (9-10) will await the winner of Lawrence North (17-3) and Lawrence Central (7-10).
It's a bracket that could likely lead to the third matchup this season between Roncalli and Lawrence North. The Wildcats won the first matchup 47-43 on Dec. 8, and then beat the Rebels 55-51 in the championship of the Marion County Tournament.
"If we could play (Lawrence North) for a third time, it would be exciting for our girls," said Roncalli coach April McDivitt Schilling. "Whenever you lose, you always want another chance, but they're No. 1 in the state for a reason, so it will be a tough matchup."