|Tue, Sep 02, 2014 05:21 PM
March 05, 2014 | 01:19 PM
The throttling sound of the Corydon Central offense, combined with shutting out the host South Central offense in the first quarter, led to a wide Panthers lead early on.
Midway through the game, the Panthers toned down the acceleration before pulling away in the fourth quarter to a 57-25 victory over county rival South Central last Tuesday.
"The first quarter we did a good job staying in front of our dribble and contesting things," Corydon Central coach Jamie Kolkmeier said. "We cleaned up the few mistakes we made. After that, our focus wasn't there."
The win was the eighth in a row for the Class 3A No. 4 Panthers and 18th overall. South Central, meanwhile, had been gaining momentum late in the season, coming off two consecutive W's.
"Corydon, like everyone says, is the best team in Southern Indiana," South Central coach Ryan Crick said. "Bronson (Kessinger) is a fantastic player with a great supporting cast around him. They'll be a tough out in sectional, and I'm glad we're not in theirs."
Kessinger was the lone player to reach double-figure scoring from either squad, pouring in 24 points. He was a tough load on the Rebels, who boasted one player, Zack Goodwin, in its starting line up taller than 6-foot-1 to battle the 6-7 Kessinger.
The opening quarter was all Panthers. Forcing six turnovers in the period, Corydon Central had the stops on the defensive end.
Offensively, the Panthers scored in the paint and at the foul line. Tommy Wiseman had a steal to convert a 3-point play. Kessinger, along with Mitchell Frederick, scored after pulling down offensive rebounds.
Wiseman's bucket gave Corydon Central a 10-0 lead that grew to 18-0 when Brayden Lander hit a field goal.
"We scored against the zone early, which caused them to come out of it," Kolkmeier said. "They probably wanted to stay in the zone longer, which should have benefited us."
South Central nearly scored before the buzzer with a three-quarter heave by Alex Goforth that rattled in then out.
Goodwin provided the first bucket for the Rebels 30 seconds into the second stanza, scoring the rock in the paint. Owen Shewmaker added a free throw to get the motor going for South Central.
The host Rebels won the scoring battle in the second quarter, 10-9, to trim Corydon Central's lead to 27-10 at the break.
"We started off slow and, after the first quarter, we got more aggressive," Crick said. "Zack went to the basket more. He struggled from the field overall but showed he was aggressive. We have to play that way."
Kolkmeier was disgruntled with the lack of focus by his players after opening the sizable lead after eight minutes.
"We lost focus a little bit and relaxed too much," Kolkmeier said. "South played really hard. I thought they rebounded it well, and I don't think we did. We gave up nine offensive boards in the first half."
Although the Panthers dominated the boards statistically, 37-22, South Central was able to pull down 15 rebounds on the offensive end. From the field, the Rebels shot 22 percent (10 of 46).
Kessinger led the way in the third quarter for another lightning-fast start by the Panthers. He scored four field goals in the frame, helping his team break the game open through a 10-2 run.
Although the Panthers led 37-12, the Rebels fought back. Nathan Shaffer and Ben Cunningham, a pair of seniors honored prior to the tip, buried 3-pointers. Seniors Austin Knear and Jordan Sullivan were also recognized.
Cutting the margin to 37-20 didn't rattle Corydon Central. Free throws by Lander, along with a Kessinger make, gave the Panthers a 21-point lead heading into the fourth.
The final frame was all Corydon Central. Sullivan scored the first bucket, but the Panthers went on a 16-0 scoring spree.
Highlighting the night for the Rebels was Knear. Students chanted for the guard in the closing minutes and, upon entering, drew a roar from the home faithful. That wasn't the loudest applause Knear earned. That came when his 3-pointer from the volleyball line in front of the South Central bench swished through the nets as the buzzer sounded to reach the final score.
To go with Kessinger's 24 points, he also had nine rebounds and three blocks. Lander scored nine points while dishing four assists. Frederick closed with six points. Off the bench, Dillion Simler scored five points.
"This was not our best effort," Kolkmeier said. "We need to clean it up. The kids will play harder in the tournament. There were times tonight I thought (South Central) played harder than we did. I don't care who you are or what the score is, we can't have that regardless of the situation. There were certain stretches they went after the ball harder than we did."
South Central was paced by Shaffer with six points and four rebounds. Cunningham contributed five points and four boards.
"We really have to get better at not going east and west," Crick said. "We have to start attacking. We did that the last few games with some success. From there, we can dump it off, kick it out, make that extra pass."
From the field, Corydon Central shot 46 percent (20 of 44) while at the charity stripe the Panthers were 17 of 22 (77 percent). They missed all five attempts from beyond the arc.
South Central, meanwhile, only went to the line twice.
Kolkmeier said in the final week before sectional play that the team will look to improve in some areas.
"We have to get better offensively," he said. "We have things that are hard to defend, but it's playing unselfish and finishing strong inside. Be better prepared to score helps, too."
Encouraged by the recent play of the Rebels, Crick said his team has been playing better.
"Lately, we won two in a row, including against a pretty good Evansville Day team," Crick said. "Our guys are starting to feel good about themselves and get some confidence heading into the tournament. Corydon is a good comparison and test for us to prepare for Rock Creek. It's all about that one game to win and move on."
Heading to the postseason, South Central (5-16) opened the Class A Borden Sectional last night (Tuesday) against Rock Creek Academy. The winner advanced to face Borden at 6 p.m. Friday.
Corydon Central now prepares for county-rival North Harrison tonight, a 6 p.m. tip.
Corydon Central 18 9 14 16 57
South Central 0 10 10 5 25
Corydon Central (18-2) Kessinger 24, Lander 9, Frederick 6, To. Wiseman 5, Simler 5, Ti. Wiseman 4, Burns 2, Stauth 2.
South Central (5-16) Shaffer 6, Cunningham 5, Wemes 4, Goodwin 4, Knear 3, Sullivan 2, Shewmaker 1.
3-point goals South Central 4 (Shaffer 2, Cunningham, Knear).