By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — At this time last season, the Tippecanoe Red Devils were steamrolling everyone in their path on their way to a regional runner-up finish.
And while an early-season injury to star Carly Clodfelter has slowed them down a little, the Devils are still preparing themselves for another postseason run — but first comes the strategy part.
All of the area’s girls basketball teams will gather Sunday for the sectional tournament draw — and after Thursday night’s games, the coaches all have all the info they need to cast their votes for seeds leading up to the meeting. And from there, it’s all about matchups, who chooses to go where on the board … and it all inevitably leads to more than a few surprises.
Tippecanoe (14-4) may not be undefeated going into the draw this season, but the Devils are still poised to get a top four seed and their choice of where to go on the board.
They’ll have to contend with Ben Logan, though, which boasts a 17-3 record and leads the Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division. Two of those losses, however, are to Kenton Trail Division teams — Kenton Ridge (13-5) and Stebbins (16-5) — both of which the Devils swept this season. The Cougars, who the Devils defeated in last year’s regional semifinal as well as twice during the regular season, own a quality victory over Kenton Trail leader Tecumseh, a D-I team, and will pose a significant threat again this season.
Tippecanoe has some quality wins of its own, though, including one over defending D-III state champion Versailles. And though one of the Devils’ wins over Kenton Ridge came with Clodfelter still in the lineup — she was injured for the year during that game, actually — Tippecanoe later defeated the Cougars without her, as well. Other teams to watch for are Eaton (11-8), which the Devils lost to in the sectional three seasons ago and avenged two seasons ago, and 13-6 Carroll, which Tippecanoe defeated by double digits earlier this year.
* Division I
After a four-game losing streak to start the season, Troy has bounced back, drawing to .500 at 9-9 heading into the tournament draw and the regular season’s home stretch. That could prove to be key, as getting even one seed higher could help the Trojans get a better draw — and improve their chances of getting their first tournament win since 2011.
There will be plenty of teams to avoid, though. Undefeated Sidney (19-0) is a prime candidate to get the No. 1 seed, though arguments can be made for 17-1 Wayne, as well. The Warriors’ only loss is to a team from Tennessee, Riverdale, in the second game of the season, while Sidney has head-to-head wins against two more quality teams in the draw in Centerville (13-6) and Tecumseh (17-3). Also in the mix will be Greater Western Ohio Conference South Division leader Springboro (13-3) and Lebanon (11-6).
* Division III
Of all the sectionals, the D-III one is arguably the most loaded — which means it’s a good thing that it went to a three-bracket supersectional instead of the two-bracket format it had for years. It also added a site this season, with brackets No. 1 and 2 being held at Franklin Monroe High School and No. 3 at the traditional Tippecanoe site.
Miami East (12-8) and Milton-Union (14-6) will be competing for a higher seed, with Bethel (8-10) moving up to D-III and having a better season than in years past. But they’ll all have plenty of hard decisions to make, as there’s no shortage of quality teams vying for spots.
Anna seems to be a lock for the top seed at 18-1, wth its only loss being to Minster — though the Vikings only lost to the Rockets by six. Defending state champ Versailles (14-6) will be in the mix, also, along with West Liberty-Salem (15-3), which owns a win over D-II Tippecanoe, Madison (11-7), which owns a pair of wins over Milton-Union, Northwestern (14-4) and Arcanum (11-8).
* Division IV
The D-IV Brookville sectional will likely be a pick-your-poison scenario for most teams, with 18-1 Tri-Village and 16-2 Miami Valley likely to get the top two seeds and jump to opposite sides of the bracket — though, as stated before, surprises do happen.
Covington (12-6) and Newton (11-7) will likely draw fairly high seeds, as will 15-4 Xenia Christian, with Bradford (7-12) looking to get the best game possible to get one win, maybe two.
In the Sidney sectional — packed with Shelby County League teams — records can be deceiving. Defending D-IV state champion Fort Loramie sits at 12-4 along with Troy Christian, with Arcanum (11-7), Jackson Center (11-6), Russia (10-9) and Lehman (8-10) all in the mix, too.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.