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Defense leads Rebels past LHS

Defense leads Rebels past LHS
Defense leads Rebels past LHS
South Central's Jared Wilkerson (20) guarded Lanesville's Nic Acton in Friday night's game between the two rival schools. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

A four-game losing streak hadn’t been seen by South Central’s boys basketball team since the beginning of the 1997-98 season, when the club fell six straight times.
Coming into last Friday night’s contest against Lanesville, the Rebels, ranked No. 6 in the latest Associated Press poll, had lost three in a row to Center Grove and Frankfort (at the Super Hoops Tournament) and Fern Creek. They weren’t about to get loss No. 4 over the weekend, methodically dispatching the Eagles, 68-46, and blasting Medora, 90-33.
Indiana All-star candidate Craig Schoen scored 34 in Saturday’s blowout and 20 versus Lanesville. Against Medora, the senior point guard set a school record for steals with 14, and he handed out six assists and grabbed six rebounds in the victory.
The Eagles (6-6, 2-1 Southern Athletic Conference), who travel to North Harrison Friday night for rare boys-girls varsity doubleheader, have been held below 50 points only twice this season: both against South Central, which heads to Eastern for a S.A.C. tilt on Friday.
“Defense is something that we’ve really worked on. That’s kind of a pride thing to say, ‘Hey, they’ve only been under 50 to one team: us.'” Rebels coach Greg Robinson said. “This is a little different face for the ball team than what we’ve had in the past, where we just tried to put up as many points as we could. For us to go somewhere in the tournament, our defense has to be better than what it’s been. I think we’ve done a great job at that this season.”
Defensively, South’s Jared Wilkerson was supposed to play the role of “stopper” this year. In the two-game set, Wilkerson also proved he can knock down the jumper as he recorded season-highs of 11 and 13 points, respectively.
“Jared’s really taken his offensive game to new heights, and by him (scoring), other teams can’t just leave him open to concentrate on our three main threats,” Robinson said. “If he and Kevin do that all year, we’ll be all right.”
As had been the case the first time the two teams met this season, South and Lanesville stayed neck-and-neck through most of the first half; however, a 14-3 run in the final five minutes of the second quarter gave the visiting Rebels a 33-19 advantage at intermission.
South Central junior Brian Mercer, who was given a “less than 40 percent chance of playing” by his coach early last week because of an ankle injury, put in three early buckets in the third period, but the Rebels continued to build on the lead to hold a 52-31 cushion at the final stop. Lanesville put up eight of their 10 three-point tries in the fourth quarter and nailed three, but the margin was too much to overcome as the Rebels held on for the 68-46 win.
For the game, South Central (10-4, 2-0 S.A.C.) was 27 of 56 from the floor and hit just one of seven three-point tries. The team got the job done at the line by hitting 13 of 17 free throw attempts. The Rebels forced 20 turnovers while committing only 10 miscues.
Outside of Schoen’s 20 points (with seven assists, six steals and three rebounds), Vaught was 5-6 at the line and scored 15 with nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Mercer pitched in with 14 points and eight boards. Brad Mercer scored six, and Kevin Kendall had two in the win.
Thanks in large part to a nine-rebound night by Andrew Denny, Lanesville was able to out-rebound the much-taller Rebels, 33-31, which helped negate a relatively poor night from the floor at 15 of 45 (33 percent). The Eagles were 10-15 at the line.
Leading the scoring effort for Lanesville was senior forward Nic Acton, who had 20 points with six rebounds and a steal and was 9-10 at the charity stripe. Josh Walter and Michael Noon had seven apiece, and Denny and Matt Schickel scored five each. One of the team’s leading scorers, Justin Ferguson, was held to just two points.
One night later, South squashed Medora, 90-33, behind yet another outstanding performance by Schoen, who set a new school record with 14 steals (breaking his old mark of 12 set as a sophomore).
The Rebels opened the first quarter with a 7-0 run on baskets by Brian Mercer and Schoen and never looked back in posting a 26-9 lead. Things didn’t get much prettier for Medora as the Rebels continued to pour on the steam.
It’s hard to believe Coach Robinson would find fault with a 57-point win in which 11 of his players scored, but he did.
“Offensively, we were completely out of focus and just didn’t get into a good rhythm. On defense we were okay, but we never really showed up on offense. We missed probably six or seven easy shots inside and got cutesy a couple of times on some shots, and I had to call a timeout to stop all of that,” Robinson said.
Schoen was 3-3 at the line and had three triples en route to his 34-point night; Vaught scored 12, and Wilkerson had 13. Brian Mercer had an off-shooting night with only eight points; Kevin Kendall scored eight, and Ben Hyde-Hanus four. Brown hit one three for his only score, and four players two points each: Joe Babcock, Brad Mercer, Adam Miller and Deavon Wiseman.
The Hornets (1-10) were paced by 12 points from Joe Plummer and eight points from Chris Ault.