Blog Post #79 – Girls Basketball Sectional 8 Preview


Gabe Perrin, Co-Sports Director

One week ago today, Sectional pairings were released for the 2022 edition of the IHSAA Girls Basketball State Tournament. Sectional 8 is by far the most stacked sectional that you will find perhaps in any sport in the Hoosier State, and deserves a close look. Let’s go team by team, in order of ranking, and evaluate their chances of moving on to Regionals in Marion.


#6 Noblesville Millers (18-4, 4-3 HCC)

The reigning champion of this Sectional last year comes in as the top-ranked team to this year’s contests. However, they may not be as strong as they appear on the outside. For example, they have gone 2-3 against the Sectional in the regular season, with losses to Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers. Their only wins came from a buzzer beater at Hamilton Southeastern, and a big 16-point win against a strong Carmel squad on the road. UConn commit and Junior Ashlynn Shade is the obvious superstar of this team, averaging 20.3 points per game, but she is backed up by two other members of the Millers’ starting five, namely Reagan Wilson and Meredith Tippner providing solid backup at the two guard spots. They come out defensively with a 1-3-1 with Shade on top, which has held opponents to only 43 points on average. With big wins against top-ranked Homestead and against reigning state champions Crown Point, this team is promising, but Ashlynn Shade needs that backup night in and night out, and if she doesn’t get that, put the Millers on upset alert Tuesday night against Zionsville.


#7 Westfield Shamrocks (18-4, 5-2 HCC)

Following up with the second of the three 18-4 teams housed in Sectional 8, the Westfield Shamrocks are a solid team headed by Michigan commit and Senior Alyssa Crockett. As a team, the ‘Rocks racked up a 4-1 record in the Sectional, with their only loss coming at the hands of the Fishers Tigers at home. The thing about Westfield is that they don’t really have a bad loss. Some may point and say that their loss to Brownsburg was a bad loss, but let us not forget that the Bulldogs were a team that took the 16th-ranked Zionsville squad to OT on Friday night. Nevertheless, Crockett and the squad backing her up like Emmrey Collinsworth, Olivia Robey, and Chesney Tebbe have shown that throughout the year, the Shamrocks are an extremely consistent team. The only concern? They need to finish games better. They almost fumbled away a double-digit lead at Carmel, and we saw much of the same in that game at Brownsburg. Overall, this Shamrocks squad is armed and dangerous, and with the bye that they drew this year, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call them the favorite here in Sectional 8. 


#8 Fishers Tigers (18-4, 7-0 HCC)

Now, it’s time to talk about what may be the most interesting team in the Sectional. Fishers is the 3rd team in Sectional 8 that went 18-4 throughout the regular season, but the only team undefeated in their conference in addition being unbeaten in the Sectional. Led by Junior twins Hailey and Olivia Smith, this team is a very fun team to watch. It’s not hard to understand why so many people believe that the Tigers are the best team not only in Sectional 8, but also the best team in all of Central Indiana. What other team beats both Zionsville and Noblesville by double digits? The Smith twins, along with a few other great shooters for the Tigers have pushed their offensive attack into a territory rarely seen in high school basketball, and it has paid off if you take a look at their schedule. Although this team is without a doubt extremely talented, they seem to have a tough time against top-ranked teams outside of Sectional 8. Losses to Snider, Pendleton Heights, Homestead, and North Central have showed that this team, even if they do make it out of sectionals, may have a tough time playing teams outside of the area. Additionally, when they played Carmel, while they won the game, they let Kate Clarke go on some big time scoring runs, something that could cost them the game against a tough HSE team Tuesday night.


#16 Zionsville Eagles (16-6, 4-3 HCC)

Next up, its the 16th-ranked Eagles of Zionsville, a team that has been, to some extent off of many people’s radar for most of the season. But what (or rather, who) has put this squad on the map is Junior sensation Laila Hull. Hull, ranked as the 57th best Junior in the country by ESPN, runs the floor about as well as any player in the state. Averaging almost 21 points per game, she heads an Eagles lineup that gives them the best chance of making it out of a Sectional in years. That lineup includes three very talented Sophomores in Allie Caldwell, Emma Haan, and one of the most entertaining players you will ever see on the court, Faith Leedy. These girls make up for a team that is strong on both the offensive and defensive ends. However, there are some clear eye sores on their schedule that show that this team may not be the strongest come the postseason. First, you can’t help but wince at the overtime loss to a now 8-14 Lawrence North team back in November, along with a 20-point loss at home against Westfield, another overtime loss against Ben Davis, and a loss on the road against HSE. However, games like back in November when they came back down 5 with a minute left to beat Carmel or just a few week ago when they held Noblesville to 9 points in the first half shows that the Eagles are a team that should absolutely be taken seriously game in and game out and could somehow come out of Westfield crowned Sectional champs.

#18 Carmel Greyhounds (15-7, 6-1 MIC)

Last year’s Sectional runner-ups and this years Co-MIC Champions have had by all measures, a pretty good season overall. However, coming in as preseason #5, the Hounds have not fully lived up to their expectations. Nevertheless, they still remain a team, as always, no one wants to play in the Sectional. Pair that with drawing a bye for the second year running, and the Hounds have a clear path to an 18th Sectional title, one that would be their first since 2018. With an extremely talented starting 5 consisting of Laura Valiente, Hannah Lach, Kate Clarke, Emily Roper, and Mackenzie Thomas, Carmel has everything you could ever want on a basketball team. Not to mention, this is a team that is 10-1 since December 18th. Armed with some excellent shooters in Clarke, Lach, and Ava Carter, Carmel is a team that can get hot quick in any situation. Defensively, the 3-2 zone combined with the signature Greyhound trap will be something that any team, even some of the best in the state, will have a hard time getting past. With Clarke and Lach now fully healthy, the Hounds have held absolutely nothing back in the past month and a half, and with a deep bench that includes underclassmen Mackenzie Woods, Jamie Elliott, and Carter, this team is built to take on some of the best. However, throughout the season, specifically November and December, this team has struggles with keeping leads in the second half. In games against Zionsville, Westfield, North Central, and Fishers this year, the Hounds have fumbled away significant chances of winning in late game situations, which explains why they fell out of the rankings entirely during the early parts of 2022. Surely, when they take on the winner of Noblesville and Zionsville on Friday night, the matchup will be a dogfight.


Hamilton Southeastern Royals (14-7, 4-3 HCC) 

As the sole unranked team in Sectional 8, the Royals certainly get far too overlooked for who they are. Having the hardest schedule out of 395 teams in the state of Indiana is not easy to deal with, and by all accounts, HSE handled it well. With a lineup headed by the Makalusky sisters along with one of the best ballhandlers in the state in Olivia Brown, this team is not one to mess around with in the postseason. While the Royals did go 1-4 against the Sectional this season, a closer look needs to be taken at those four losses. Back in late November, the Royals took a surging Carmel team to OT, only losing by one, and just a few days later, the Millers of Noblesville required a buzzer beater to top the Royals. In their game against crosstown rival Fishers, they kept the game close and only lost by eight, and ther only “bad” loss (relatively speaking) within the Sectional came on January 14th in a 49-37 loss to Westfield. On the flip side, let’s not forget the 43-40 win just a few weeks ago against an extremely talented Zionsville squad. Long story short, while the Royals may not be the team most likely to come out of Sectional 8 unscathed, they are a team that brings the energy to every single game. Averaging 60 points a game, by the way, puts Fishers on major upset alert in Tuesday night’s matchup. Watch out for HSE, because if some of these other teams don’t, they may be left very confused.



It is extremely difficult to choose one team that rises above all in Sectional 8, because literally every single team has a good chance at winning this Sectional. As a matter of fact, any of these teams has a chance to pull a Brownsburg from last year and make a Cinderella run all the way to State Finals. Some may think the obvious choice would be Noblesville, but my choice would be the 7th-ranked Westfield Shamrocks. Not only were they the most consistent team throughout the three months of the regular season, but they were gifted with the easiest (once again, very relative) draw of the entire Sectional. But, when it comes down to it, this is high school basketball in the Hoosier state, meaning that on any given night, quite literally anything could happen. 

WHJE will have live coverage of the Noblesville/Zionsville matchup Tuesday night at 7:30, and will be on the call live for every Carmel postseason game, beginning Friday night at 7:30.