|Sun, Mar 09, 2014 05:04 AM
December 18, 2013 | 10:46 AM
During the last several seasons, Corydon Central always seemed to be in the game against traditional power New Albany. For various reasons, it always seemed the Bulldogs would have a key run or two to put the Panthers away.
Not this time.
New Albany had the run — a 12-1 start to the second half to break a 30-all tie — but Corydon Central had the answer.
After a Panthers' timeout with 3:50 to play in the third quarter, the tide changed. Going on to outscore the visiting Bulldogs 33-18 the rest of the way, Corydon Central pulled off a 64-60 victory in front of a rocking home crowd. It was the first time since 2003, a 64-58 ballgame, that Corydon Central has knocked off New Albany.
"Everybody always talks New Albany and Jeff and other teams down here don't get much love," Corydon Central's Bronson Kessinger. said. "To beat a team that everyone around the state talks about is a good feeling. It's like we earned some respect tonight."
On a night when New Albany shot 71 percent from the field (24 of 34) and 8 of 14 from behind the arc, it was Corydon Central's unselfish play and defense that proved to be the difference.
Early in the fourth quarter, Brayden Lander's 3-pointer was quickly answered with New Albany's Isaac Hibbard draining a triple. Hibbard's shot gave the Bulldogs a 55-44 advantage.
From there, Corydon Central closed with a 20-5 spurt.
Kessinger scored in the paint, followed by Timothy Wiseman swiping a pass for an easy two. A bucket by Lander, then a single free throw from Tommy Wiseman pressed the Panthers within four, 55-51, with 3:46 to go.
Milking the clock to 2:35 to play, New Albany scored with a Jeffy Byrne lay-up to go back up by six.
The Wiseman brothers came up with back-to-back plays to put Corydon Central in front. Timothy Wiseman swished a 3-pointer then stole a ball in the back court, but his lay-in attempt rolled out. However, Tommy Wiseman was hacked on the put-back attempt.
Both free throws trimmed New Albany's lead to 57-56 with 1:56 left.
Once Corydon Central regained possession, Kessinger drew plenty of attention on the block, freeing up Tommy Wiseman for a close field goal. The bucket with 1:16 left brought the Panthers fans to their feet.
"Most guys in Bronson's position could make a good catch and force that shot up," Corydon Central coach Jamie Kolkmeier said. "It probably turned out to be the play of the game when he found the open guy when he could have just forced it up. It would have been a really tough shot; he was pinned behind the back board. They brought everybody to him, and he found the open guy. It was a great decision; a great team play right there."
A free throw by Davon Winburn knotted the game at 58. Out of a Panthers time-out, Corydon Central found Kessinger underneath for two points.
"Midway through the first quarter I realized they weren't going to switch anything on me, so I kept setting screens, running the offense and, when I got the (positioning), it was there and scored," Kessinger said.
With a two-point lead, the Panthers didn't sit back on defense. Grant Robinson forced a loose ball that saw four Panthers hit the deck in a scramble for the rock. A jump ball was called, giving the ball to the Panthers.
Inside the final seconds, Timothy Wiseman went 4 for 4 at the charity stripe, putting the game away. Lander also forced a late turnover.
"I thought I was going to learn a lot about my team in the last four minutes of the third quarter; the truth is, I actually learned a lot about them in the last five minutes," Kolkmeier said. "Our kids could have given up but they didn't."
Four different Panthers reached double-figure scoring. Kessinger paced the team with 21 points on 10 of 13 shooting. Tommy Wiseman had 16 points, Lander 15 and Timothy Wiseman 11. Tommy had seven assists.
"Our biggest strength to this point this year has been our unit and our togetherness," Kolkmeier said. "When we play and everybody is together with a common goal, picking each other up, it shows what we can do."
The first half was largely back and forth until the Bulldogs went ahead, 27-19, on a Winburn triple. He would have three 3-pointers in the game to tally a team-best 20 points for New Albany.
Corydon Central fought back, including a near 90-second defensive stand late in the half, to tie the game at 30.
"We never want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we said in practice, 'Losers make excuses, and winners make the next play.' We want to be winners," Kolkmeier said. "That doesn't mean you're going to win every game, but winners in life are going to pick themselves up and make the very next play."
Nineteen turnovers offset New Albany's outstanding shooting night. The Panthers were strong from the field as well, going 24 of 45 (53 percent). Efficiency from beyond the arc was key, too, hitting 3 of 7 attempts.
The win over the Bulldogs was a big one for Corydon Central emotionally, especially doing so in come-back fashion.
"It's a big deal, but we don't want to make it as if we've accomplished everything and we're done," Kolkmeier said. "You know, New Albany is a great program, well-coached and does things right. When you can beat a team like that or be in a game like that and compete, that's what makes you better for the rest of the year. That's why we play teams like that."
Using six players, the Panthers didn't go deep on the bench, but Kolkmeier said the entire program is responsible for earning the victory.
"We didn't play a lot of guys tonight, but we have 13 to 16 guys going at it in practice," Kolkmeier said. "Without those guys making us better everyday, we don't win this. We have a lot of mature kids, and that's a big key for us right now."
New Albany also played without standout player Leondre McBirth, who was sitting out the game for violating team rules.
Corydon Central will return to Mid-Southern Conference play Friday when the Panthers travel to face Scottsburg at 7:30 p.m.