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March 1, 2012

Panthers, Red Devils set for another key matchup

Eastern, Taylor meet in semifinal at Tipton

Western boys basketball coach Andy Weaver watched with great interest as Northwestern and West Lafayette battled Wednesday in the Class 3A Twin Lakes Sectional.

Western routed Peru 64-39 in Wednesday’s opener, leaving Weaver to scout a game between two familiar teams in preparation for tonight’s semifinal round.

“Obviously, Northwestern is our most intense local rival. And, then West Lafayette is a sectional rival. We’ve played them in eight of the last nine sectionals,” Weaver said. “We knew we going to get a rival [tonight]. And, we also knew we were going to get a good team. It was a very entertaining game and West Lafayette is the team we got.”

West Lafayette advanced by beating No. 9-ranked Northwestern 74-72 in a triple-OT thriller. Northwestern led 21-19 after the opening quarter, then the game settled into a typical sectional grind. The Tigers led 27-26 at halftime and 41-39 after three quarters. It was 58-all at the end of regulation.

“West Lafayette can become very defensive oriented and get stops. They’re built on defense,” Weaver said, noting the Red Devils’ defensive average is 48.1 points per game. “And they have some very good offensive parts to go with that.”

The Red Devils are led by 5-foot-11 senior guard Drake Danford, who had 27 points and eight assists against the Tigers.

“He is a guy who has a lot of arsenal to his offensive game,” Weaver said. “He can take the ball to the basket, he can penetrate and pull up and shoot jump shots in that 15- to 16-foot range and he can catch and shoot from deep.”

Western (17-5) and West Lafayette (16-6) know each other extremely well. In addition to their seemingly annual sectional clashes, they have met in the regular season every season since 2003-04.

Still, Weaver said the Red Devils are a difficult team for which to prepare.

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