By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — The regular season to this point may have influenced how Sunday will go in ways.
But the ultimate fates of all of Miami County’s boys basketball teams hinge completely on the draw — and how the coaches put it to use.
With the resumes complete and the records for seeding already turned in, the area’s boys coaches will all get together Sunday for the sectional tournament draw, with some facing much tougher decisions than others.
* Division III
There’s no other way to put it. The Division III Dayton open draw is stacked.
With two teams ranked in the top 10 in the latest D-III state poll, a host of perennial powerhouses and even a couple of new additions, the three brackets that the open draw offers still won’t give teams in the bottom or even the middle of the pack a lot of room to hide. Everywhere anyone turns, there’s a quality opponent to play.
That all begins at the top, too, with returning regional qualifier Northridge (17-1) and Miami East (15-2) leading the way. The Polar Bears are ranked No. 3 in the latest state poll, while the Vikings fell from third to a tie for eighth after Saturday’s loss to D-I Troy. The only other loss for the Vikings this season was to D-II Chaminade Julienne — a state semifinalist in D-III last season that knocked off Northridge.
Making matters tougher are 17-2 West Liberty-Salem — which the Vikings own a 63-38 victory over earlier this season — 14-5 Versailles, 13-6 Carlisle and 11-7 Anna. But a new addition — 14-4 Bethel, which moved up to D-III along with 8-9 Franklin Monroe this season — adds one more tough out. Come sectional final time, there’s bound to be some outstanding matchups. But Milton-Union’s 1-15 record going in will likely leave the Bulldogs with a first- or second-round game against one of the top teams in the draw.
* Division I
Troy’s 5-13 record will put it in a similar boat as the Bulldogs, despite a quality win over state-ranked Miami East last weekend. Many of the teams in the D-I draw already own victories over the Trojans during the regular season, though Troy was competitive in most of its games.
The biggest hurdle to avoid will be 18-0 Wayne, the No. 1 team in the state in the latest D-I poll. Springboro and Xenia both bring matching 15-3 records into the draw, with 16-3 Tecumseh in the mix for the top seeds, as well. From there, things get a little more murky, with Sidney (14-5), Centerville (11-7), Greenville (11-6), Northmont (10-8) and Piqua (9-9) battling it out for middle seeds and a chance to avoid the top teams.
* Division II
Tippecanoe’s eight-game winning streak — which included an overtime win against one of the top D-I teams, Tecumseh — put the Red Devils in a good position going into Sunday. But the biggest boon for the Devils has to be the fact that it’s in the seven-team Springfield sectional bracket rather than the jam-packed Trent Arena draw. This way, Tippecanoe not only faces nothing but familiar Central Buckeye Conference opponents, but also avoids teams like Carroll, Chaminade Julienne and state-ranked Trotwood until the district level, should the Devils get there.
The Devils are tied for the second-best record in the sectional, as well, at 11-7 along with Indian Lake — which the Devils own a head-to-head win over. The best record in the bracket is Urbana’s 11-6, but Tippecanoe defeated the Hillclimbers on Tuesday. Tippecanoe also swept Kenton Ridge (9-10) and holds one win over Springfield Shawnee (10-7) with one more regular season meeting to go, and the Devils routed Graham (5-13) early in the season. The only team in the bracket the Devils haven’t already faced is 6-13 Ben Logan, making their prospects look solid wherever they choose to go in the bracket.
* Division IV
The Division IV Troy bracket has been the home of some of the best basketball of the year the past few years, but with Bethel and Franklin Monroe moving up to D-III and the departure of four-time defending sectional champion Troy Christian’s best player earlier this season, things look a little more up in the air.
Still, though, the Eagles (8-10) will have plenty to think about, with defending D-IV state champion Tri-Village (15-3) or 18-2 Southeastern likely to get the top two seeds and go to opposite sides of the bracket. Metro Buckeye Conference leader Yellow Springs (14-5) will also likely draw a high seed, with teams like Newton (10-7) and Cedarville (9-9) competing with the Eagles for middle-ground seeds and the chance to pick their poison first before the options dwindle.
And in the D-IV Piqua bracket, Covington (8-10), Lehman (3-14) and Bradford (2-14) likely to get lower-to-middle seeds and be stuck choosing from tough draws. And with 16-2 Jackson Center and 16-3 Russia looking like the stronger teams, with Triad (13-6), Fairlawn (11-7), Fort Loramie (8-11), Houston (6-11) and Botkins (6-11) in the mix, there won’t be much room to hide there, either.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.