Local Sports

Southwestern Regional features top-ranked Waldron, three returning teams

Three of the four teams in the Class A Southwestern Regional are repeat qualifiers. The only new team is the No. 1 ranked Waldron Mohawks.

The regional starts at 10 a.m. Saturday with Bethesda Christian (14-7) facing Greenwood Christian (14-11). At noon, Waldron (22-1) takes on Bloomfield (12-11).

The regional championship game is slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Mohawks are the prohibitive favorite but the “next loss is your last loss” scenario of the state tournament makes for an exciting environment.

Most everything Waldron has accomplished this season has been compared to the 2010 season when the program finished 22-4 under head coach Brad Gossett and won sectional and regional titles.

That year, Waldron defeated Jac-Cen-Del in overtime of the regional championship game. To get to the regional in 2022, Waldron had to beat Jac-Cen-Del in overtime of the sectional championship game.



With the win, head coach Anthony Thomas believes the pressure is off his team.

“I think for us, honestly, I think it will probably be the most loose we’ve been all season,” he said. “There are no preconceived notions from the kids. It’s a team we haven’t played before. I know our mindset. It will be like summer ball when we were playing Bloomington North, Bloomington South, all those teams we played all summer to get ready. I actually think they will be as loose as can be, honestly.”

Waldron’s historic season would have ended Tuesday night if Mackenzie Shaw did not make a 3-pointer at the buzzer against No. 5-ranked Jac-Cen-Del to send the game to overtime.

For seven seniors, including Shaw, the storybook script of a final season just keeps getting better.

“They know. They are not dumb,” said Thomas of his team. “It’s not fair to kids, but they needed to win that sectional to validate their season. They did that and I think they will play as loose as can be.”



The Mohawks match up against a defensive-minded Bloomfield squad that is allowing 37.8 ppg. Head coach Ron Knepp has had the Cardinals in the regional in five of his seven seasons, but they have yet to win a semifinal game.

The veteran coach with 144 career wins knows Saturday’s task is very difficult.

“They are the real deal,” said Knepp of Waldron. “They can pressure you. They can defend you and they can flat out score the basketball.”

Waldron enters the regional averaging 55.2 ppg with three players averaging double digits – Bella Larrison (11 ppg), Megan Bogemann (10.3) and Nichole Garner (10.1 ppg).

The trio combined for 49 of Waldron’s 65 points in the sectional championship game.

Knepp knows his Cardinals cannot get in a shootout with the Mohawks. His roster does not have the firepower. Productive possessions are desired and turnovers must be limited.

“The biggest thing for us is we need to get our shots,” said Knepp of his team averaging 36 ppg. “We need to be able to handle their pressure. We cannot turn the basketball over. We have to value the basketball and get shots.”

Bloomfield has not scored 50 points in a game this season.

Knepp will start two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore Saturday afternoon. Senior guard Kinley Moody and senior forward Gracie Lowry are varsity veterans.

“They have played significant minutes throughout their entire high school career,” said Knepp.

Moody typically draws the opponent’s top scorer although that is difficult to identify with Waldron. Lowry, at 5-11, is a key rebounder, along with junior Delaney Richardson at 5-10.

Junior Brianna Bucher is Bloomfield’s leading scorer and vocal leader on the floor.

Sophomore Jacenyia Godoy took over the point guard duties this season, leads the Cardinals in steals and has been a 50% 3-point shooter over the second half of the season.

“Defensively, I think we can play with them but on the offensive end we cannot turn it over and we have to get our shots,” said Knepp. “That’s been an issue for us.”



The first regional semifinal is a rematch from earlier this season. Greenwood Christian defeated Bethesda Christian, 55-45, on Jan. 14.

The Cougars and head coach Alan Weems swept through their sectional with convincing wins over Indianapolis Tindley and Indianapolis Lutheran.

After starting 3-5, including a 70-40 loss at Waldron on Nov. 27, Greenwood Christian settled in to finish the season 11-6.

“I think we are playing better basketball right now,” said Weems, who has announced his retirement at the end of this season. “When we played (Waldron) back in November, we were still trying to find out who we were. And we struggled in the beginning of the year.

“We are playing good basketball right now. We’ve managed to figure out each other and that has helped.”

The Cougars are led by 5-7 senior guard Ellie Bigelow, who surpassed 1,000 career points in the sectional. She is averaging 11.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 3.1 steals.

Senior Dani Simon leads the team in scoring at 14.3 ppg and pulls down nearly five rebounds per contest. Sophomore Sydney Waldron gets eight points and 5.5 rebounds per game while senior Dory O’Dell leads the team in rebounding (7.5 rpg) and adds 6.8 ppg.

Bethesda Christian has a 1,000-point scorer in sophomore guard Kenzie Fulks (22.9 ppg). She had 30 points in her first meeting with Greenwood Christian last month.

“If you hold her to her average and stop everybody else, you obviously put yourself in an advantage … but it’s hard to hold her to her average,” said Weems. “We are just going to try and play basketball, and with her, we’re just going to make her work as hard as she can for her shots. “She is going to get them. You are not going to hold her scoreless or hold her to 15. She is going to get her 20 to 25 because she is that good. What you don’t want to do is have her go off for 40 against you.”



Bethesda Christian is making its third straight regional appearance. The Patriots lost to North Central (Farmersburg) in 2020 and Southwestern in 2021.

Fulks, at 5-6, is a force, also filling the stat sheet with 5.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.2 steals per game.

Complimenting her this year is 5-8 junior Paige Vawter (10.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.3 apg) and three more players averaging 5-6 ppg – 5-6 senior Hannah Daugherty (5.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg), 6-2 sophomore JayLa Ferguson (5.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and 5-8 sophomore Sydney Goodin (4.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg).

“Ferguson has really helped us on the inside, we have a little more inside presence,” said Bethesda Christian coach Roger Hanna. “That has helped out the whole team.”

The Patriots opened the season 6-1 and were 10-2 after an overtime win at Park Tudor on Jan. 11 before losing three straight to Brebeuf, Greenwood Christian and Guerin Catholic.

“We beefed up our schedule a little bit playing a couple more (Class) 3A schools and 2A schools to make us a little tougher,” said Hanna.

Bethesda Christian enters the postseason on a three-game winning streak.

“We are excited. It’s a special time of year for them,” said Hanna. “Our mindset is a little different. Last year we were a bunch of freshmen. “They are sophomores now and you can tell that experience from last year to this year is starting to show.”

Bloomfield has won four regional titles with the last coming in 2005. Waldron’s only regional championship was in 2010. Greenwood Christian is the two-time defending regional champion.

The winner of the Southwestern Regional advances to either the Jasper or Jeffersonville Semistate to face the winner of the West Washington Regional on Feb. 19.

There are four state-ranked teams at West Washington Saturday. In the opener, No. 7 Tecumseh (16-8) faces No. 11 Trinity Lutheran (16-8). In the second semifinal, No. 6 Vincennes Rivet (20-6) battles No. 2 Lanesville (25-1).