Tonight, the Orleans Bulldogs host county rival Paoli Rams, to determine the Orange County basketball champs. The atmosphere in Orleans will be ecstatic, as I expect a gym full of faithful fans from both communities.
These two teams know each other well, with some of the players going head-to-head for almost a decade. Cousins, friends, and rivals will square off in a game both teams have been waiting for all season.
Defense will be the main point of the story tonight. Yes, both teams have some athletic shooters, but they are also some of the best defensive teams around. Statistically, the Bulldogs are the best defensive team in Southern Indiana, holding teams to an average of 37.9 points a game. Providence is a couple points behind them at 39.6.
Orleans is quick and aggressive with their man defense, and they really know how to work together to disrupt. The Bulldogs can score, but they fall middle of the pack at 47th in the Southern Indiana out of 108 teams we’re tracking. They’re putting up 55.2 points a game.
Orleans has been in some close games lately. Their last game at OT win against North Harrison. They won in 4 OT over Loogootee a few days ago, but their mostly just blowing through the competition. Their only losses were at North Daviess and at New Albany. 3A and 4A schools.
Paoli can just be just as tough on defensive, but overall, they’re a really balanced team. Sitting at around 20th in Southern Indiana based on PPG, OPG, and Ratio. The Rams are 20th in Southern Indiana, holding teams to 47.4 points a game, but I would say that Orleans has had the tougher opponents.
Paoli is ranked a little bit higher on offense, sitting at 28th out of 108 teams in Southern Indiana and scoring 58.7 points per game.
Generally, though those stats won’t mean much tonight as this will be a dog fight and close all the way through. Paoli likes playing the older brother role, winning 8 out of the last 11 matchups, and currently on a 7-game winning streak. Which means these Orleans players have never been able to beat this Paoli squad.
John Harrel is predicting that Orleans wins this one at 54-46. In Sagarin ratings, Orleans is ranked 85th in the State and 2nd in 1A. Paoli is 163rd in the state and 29th overall. Both teams are 5-0 against common opponents, and both of their overall opponents have losing records.
I see this game being a lot closer than what John Harrel is predicting, but I honestly do not know who’s going to walk away with the win. For both teams, the key is to play as a team. Paoli has more of a tendency to slip into star ball style play that can go either way for them, but generally it kills the Rams’ momentum.
Do not get me wrong, when Paoli plays as a unit with quick passes and attacking downlow, they’re tough. I know they’re going to bring the defense, its just what kind of team are they going to be on offense?
Last season, the Bulldogs would see flashes of the “who can score more” play, but this season I really think they’ve started to believe in each other and work together. They played great against North Daviess, but just couldn’t get their shots to fall. They know how to get open, they’ll just have to finish.
Both teams will rely on their defense. Its going to get physical, but I hope the refs let it play out a little bit. It could get a little street ball rough, I’m sure they’ve played each other on the Orleans court downtown (Iconic court to play some street ball. A must play court), and I’d love to see some of that playground flashiness tonight.
I have a cousin on each team. Ian Hall from Orleans, and Trey Rominger on Paoli. I like to call this game the “Cousin Rivalry” game because these two are going to be key pieces tonight. About five years ago, I was able to take these guys on in a game of pickup, nowadays I probably wouldn’t be able to score. I hope they both have great games tonight and I’ll be cheering for both them and their teams, because they’re both my two favorite teams in Indiana high school basketball.
Like I said before, the atmosphere in Orleans when they Paoli is one of the best atmospheres in basketball. If you’re able to get down there for the game, it starts at 7:30, get there early or you won’t find a seat. Can’t wait to watch this one.