Of course, this year has a special circumstance. The Loogootee Lions (6-15) are uncharacteristically bad as the crowd witnessed Tuesday night. Just two years removed from winning a state championship, coach Mike Wagoner watched his team lose by 20 to Vincennes Rivet — a thought that seemed unimaginable even two years ago. North Daviess and Loogootee — two teams that had given Barr-Reeve fits in sectionals over the years didn’t look like themselves this year. The Cougars lost Wes Lengacher and dynamic guard Nick Crays and Loogootee lost an entire starting lineup from last year’s team that fell to Barr-Reeve in the sectional championship.
Meanwhile, Barr-Reeve has taken a step forward. Nobody inside the Barr-Reeve program will say this publicly, but this year’s Viking squad is so talented and experienced that it’s hard to envision their final game not being played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis under the bright lights of a state championship. With the competition watered down in their sectional this year, it likely wouldn’t have mattered who Barr-Reeve played, but at least you could have had the Vikings playing the host Cougars in Saturday’s championship game. Instead the Vikings and Cougars met at the beginning of the week.
If you picture the tournament seeded, Barr-Reeve and North Daviess would get byes as the top two seeds, while first round games would have been Rivet-Shoals and Loogootee-Washington Catholic. The idea of a draw is an outdated idea. Seeding is the most logical way to go through any tournament. No disrespect to Rivet or Washington Catholic and its fans, but I find it hard to believe that the championship game will match what we witnessed during Tuesday’s Barr-Reeve-North Daviess game. That type of atmosphere comes from a deep-seeded rivalry between two small town powerhouses, which after all is what the Indiana state tournament is supposed to be all about.
The boys basketball state tournament is supposed to be the greatest spectacle in Indiana high school sports. Don’t we owe it to the fans to build a crescendo to a great championship game? The answer should be a resounding yes. Seeding is truly the only way to go.