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Musketeers fire blanks at South

Eastern head coach Scott Newcomb described Friday night’s loss to No. 6-ranked (Class 1A) South Central as a “good ole-fashion butt-whippin.’ ”
The Rebels (11-4, 3-0 Southern Athletic Conference) used a powerful first half offense to cruise in the second half to a 61-36 thumping of the Musketeers.
Junior forward Brian Mercer scored 19 points and senior Indiana All-Star candidate Craig Schoen pitched in with 15 points, eight steals, 10 assists, 11 deflections and four rebounds in the victory. Senior forward Adam Miller notched eight points with a pair of threes as well.
“Mercer played as well as he’s played since Christmas. He’s still not going to the basket quite like he should, but he’s getting closer to being back to the threat he was at the beginning of the season. He moved better than any time before the ankle injury and looks like he’s close to 100 percent,” South coach Greg Robinson said. “Miller hit a couple of threes to bust up their zone defense.”
The Rebels held a 12-5 lead after the first quarter, when Eastern’s game plan was to pass the ball for as long as possible before going for a shot.
“I found out after the game that was Newcomb’s plan was to work the ball around and take as much time as possible off the clock,” Robinson said.
South’s coach told his team to trap in the second period and the result was a 22-5 effort that effectively put the game away.
“We basically traded baskets in the second half and (Eastern) did a much better job handling the ball,” Robinson said. “It wasn’t a Picasso on offense as we only shot 49 percent, but it was a win.”
The Musketeers were forced into 19 first-half turnovers.
Jared Wilkerson scored four and had five rebounds, Kevin Kendall scored six and Brad Mercer and Aaron Vaught had two apiece.
Two Eastern players scored nine in the loss: Charlie Lewis and Chris Robertson.
“They just have too many weapons, but still have the right combination of role players to be a highly effective team in sectional,” Newcomb said. “It’s theirs to win.”
South Central heads to Henryville (7-7) on Friday night for the second in a six-game road stretch. Should the Rebels in that matchup, they would likely capture the Southern Athletic Conference title for the fourth-straight year.
Only New Washington (2-13) and Crothersville (5-7) remain on the conference slate.
“We just need to go up to Henryville and take care of business. We want to control our own destiny. They have two nice players in Meadows outside and Sipe inside, which should be an interesting battle,” Robinson said. “It’s always tough to play Henryville. Our track record up there in that gym is not great.”