First rodeo: Young Eagles prep for regional debut

   Experience and veteran leadership usually reigns supreme in the Indiana high school basketball postseason.
   Columbia City (17-5) have defied those notions with a sophomore-loaded team that makes its regional debut Saturday’s class 3A tournament at Blackford High School.
   Three of Columbia City’s top four scorers are sophomores including its top two in Drew Benedict (17.0 ppg) and Derek Hinen (8.7 ppg).
   “At this point in the season everyone just wants to play another game and advance,” Columbia City head coach Chris Benedict said. “It’s going to be a tough game. They are a team that won’t beat themselves.”
   That team is Delta. Also an Eagles squad, Delta comes in familiar with the regional round.
   Delta (16-7) makes its third regional appearance in the four seasons with a title in 2009 over Whitko 64-50.
   Under first-year head coach Stan Daugherty, the Eagles fill the varsity lineup with senior experience.
   Senior Jake Bryan, six-foot-four-inches, leads a Delta team as a leader in several categories including points with 14.7 per game.
   “He’s a very intelligent, IQ basketball kind of player,” Benedict noted of Bryan. “He does a little bit of everything for them. He’s their guy and makes things go for them.”
   According to Benedict, Columbia City chances don’t rely on stopping Bryan or Delta’s gameplan.
   “It comes down to doing what you do,” Benedict stated. “Worry about what you do and not so much about what they do. Each team will have a gameplan set out and it comes down to whoever executes theirs better.”
   The 10 a.m. match-up between Columbia City and Delta is the first of two semifinal games with Norwell and Fort Wayne Harding following at noon.
   The winners of those games come back at 8 p.m. Saturday night for the regional championship.

Host Blackford High School
Hartford City, Ind.
Four-team tournament
Ticket price $9
Columbia City vs Delta, 10 a.m.
FW Harding vs Norwell, 12 p.m.
Regional Championship, 8 p.m.