PREBLE COUNTY – The journey to Columbus begins this weekend for the county’s five boys’ varsity basketball teams.
Just getting out of the sectional, though, has been difficult in recent years and this year’s early round match-ups suggest the same could be true again.
In Division II, Eaton may face the most daunting task if seeding holds up. The Eagles, seeded 17th in the Trent 3 sectional, would face No. 3 Dayton Dunbar in its first game. Dunbar opens with a first-round contest against No. 18 Clinton-Massie.
Eaton will play the winner on Monday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. at Trent Arena. A meeting with Dunbar would be the fourth in the past five years in the post-season for the Eagles, with the Wolverines winning all three (77-38 in 2012, 86-37 in 2014, and 101-30 last season).
The sectional final is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m. at Wright State University’s Nutter Center and will feature the winner of the Eaton game against Ponitz, Chaminade Julienne, Hamilton Ross or No. 1 seed Trotwood-Madison.
In the Division III, Dayton 1 sectional at Belmont, No. 19 seed National Trail will open with Cross County Conference foe and No. 2 seed Miami East on Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. It will be the second meeting of the season for the teams. Miami East won the first game back on Dec. 22, 82-25. National Trail has lost the last 10 games to the Vikings dating back to 2007.
Also in the D-III, Dayton 1 sectional, No. 10 Preble Shawnee will take on Southwestern Buckeye League rival Brookville at 8 p.m. on Feb. 20. The Blue Devils enter the tournament as the No. 8 seed. Despite being in the same league, Shawnee and Brookville have met just five times since 2005, with the Blue Devils owning a 4-1 mark. The last meeting was during the sectional tournament in 2014, with the Arrows falling 81-67.
The winner of the NT/Miami East game will play either Preble Shawnee or Brookville in the second round on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m. The sectional final is set for Feb. 27, at 5 p.m. at Northmont High School.
In the Division IV sectional at Troy High School, No. 4 seed Twin Valley South may have the best shot of advancing, but the Panthers are coming off a disappointing loss to rival Tri-County North, who had won just twice this season. South had won 16 straight in the series dating back to 2005.
South, which dropped to D-IV this year after spending several years in Division III, will open with No. 6 Cedarville. The Panthers and Indians have not met in recent years.
The winner will meet No. 7 Emmanuel Christian on Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m., with a trip to the sectional final on the line.
The sectional final is set for Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. and will be against No. 2 Southeastern, No. 11 Miami Valley or No. 8 Troy Christian.
Tri-County North, the No. 12 seed, gets top-seed and defending state champion Tri-Village on Feb. 20 at 11 a.m. North has lost the last 11 to their Cross County Conference foe since 2006, including a 77-37 setback this season.
The winner will meet No. 13 Xenia Christian on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. The sectional final is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m.