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Knights enter regional on Saturday as favorites

THREE: Southwood’s Carson Blair (right) prepares to shoot a three-pointer during the Knights’ game against Lafayette Central Catholic in last week’s sectional.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

Last season, the Southwood boys’ basketball team entered the regional round as underdogs, falling to eventual state champions Frankton in the opening contest.

This season, the tables have turned.

The Knights will head into the Frankfort regional on Saturday as the overwhelming favorites to move on to the semi-state.

The Sagarin ratings rank Southwood (22-3) not only the top team in the regional, with a rating of 80.24, but the fourth-best team in Class 1A.

Their opening opponent, North Vermillion, enters ranked 49th in Class 1A in Sagarin at 51.46, two spots below Northfield, for reference. Southern Wells comes in at 50th with a rating of 51.38 while Seton Catholic is ranked 52nd with a rating of 50.94.

North Vermillion (15-13) earned its spot in the regional with a 68-46 win over Rockville in the sectional final, capping off a trio of wins last week.

The Falcons enter the regional on a hot streak, winners of six of their last eight contests including postseason play. North Vermillion is averaging 51.4 points per game offensively while giving up 47.9 points per game defensively.

Junior Trevor Eppert leads the Falcons in scoring at 15.2 points per game to go along with 7.2 rebounds per contest. Chris Ellis adds 12.4 points per game and 4.3 rebounds while Jonathon Kilgore chips in 8.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

Ellis leads the team in three-pointers with 43 on the year. As a team, North Vermillion has made 134 threes in 28 games, an averaging of nearly five a game, but shoot only 30 percent as a team from range.

The Falcons advanced to the regional last season as well before falling to Lafayette Central Catholic and met the same fate in 2015-16 after capturing a sectional crown.

North Vermillion has one regional title, coming in 1969. That date also marks the last win for the Falcons in the regional round as they’ve lost their last four contests in the round.

Seton Catholic (8-18) is making its fourth-straight appearance in the regional, but the Cardinals are winless in each of their four appearances in the regional.

For Seton Catholic, leading the way individually in scoring is senior Zach Rogers at 13.4 points per game. Trent Reichley and Jake Moynihan are averaging 9.2 and 9.6 points per game, respectively, while Sam Brenneke chips in 8.8 per game.

Moynihan leads the team in rebounding at 9.8 rebounds.

Southern Wells (11-14) is returning to the regional for the first time since 2011. The Raiders captured a regional title in 2000, their lone regional title and their last win in the regional.

Southern Wells is also the only team Southwood has a history with as the two sides have met 38 times. Southwood holds a 25-13 edge in the series with the last meeting coming in 2013-14, when Southwood won

70-42. The Raiders have lost 12-straight games to Southwood, dating back to 2001-02.

Southwood enters the weekend having already set the school record for wins in a season, breaking last year’s mark of 21.

The Knights are looking for their first regional win since the 2010 season when they knocked of Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, 70-68. That is also the lone regional win for the Knights in school history.

Southwood will play the opening game of the day at 10 a.m. against North Vermillion with Southern Wells-Seton Catholic scheduled to start at noon. The championship match will begin at 8 p.m.

Admission is $10 for the regional. Tickets are currently available at the Southwood athletic office and can be purchased at the door as well.