Panthers back to early-season form
Corydon Central’s boys basketball team finally got some state-wide recognition yesterday when the Associated Press polls were released. The Panthers appeared in the 16th spot with seven votes after knocking off then-No. 5 (Class 2A) Paoli on Friday night, 77-70, before returning home and bouncing Joe Hinton’s Providence Pioneers in a Saturday evening Homecoming affair, 69-56.
The two wins pushed Corydon’s winning streak to five and season record to 10-3. The only losses have been to Scottsburg by one in overtime, No. 3 (Class 4A) New Albany by seven, and Jeffersonville by two.
The Panthers’ come-from-behind victory over Providence snapped the Pioneers’ three-game win streak.
After trailing by nine with two minutes left in the second quarter, Corydon coach Randy Gianfagna called a timeout. Whatever he said during the break seemed to work as Nevin Dunaway put in four of his 14 points and Zach Engleman bombed a three to bring the Panthers within two at the half, 27-25.
The magic continued in the third quarter as senior Josh Pruett had a three to go along with a regular field goal and two free throws. Kyle Savely added a bucket during the stretch as well. By the time Providence finally ended a 16-0 run by Corydon on a deuce by Brad Schamel at the 5:30 mark, the Panthers held a 34-29 lead.
The feisty Pioneers got within two a short time later on back-to-back threes by Patrick Weber; however, they never recovered from the explosion of points by Corydon Central.
“It wasn’t much magic. We worked on Paoli this week, so today in our walk-through we talked about what we wanted to do,” said Gianfagna. “The middle was wide-open, and our guys were just standing on the three-point line instead of back-cutting. We told our big kids to get to the middle and back-cut the guards would stand on the three-point line, and when we did that, we got some movement and then some open looks.”
Providence’s Hall of Fame coach, Joe Hinton, said the turning point of the game was when he took his center, Schamel, out of the game after the second-quarter timeout by Corydon.
“That was the turning point because we didn’t have anyone that could handle Dunaway inside. We didn’t change anything on offense. They just got to a lot of loose balls and seemed to get every rebound at that point. My guys told me we needed to do better on defense. Heck, defensively, we were okay because we had held them to just 25 points at halftime. I told our guys the thing we needed was to score,” Hinton said. “Then we got behind, and we had to gamble, and the game got away from us. We missed nine shots in the paint, and you can’t do that.”
Four players scored in double figures for the winners: Pruett had 15 before fouling out midway through the third quarter on a technical infraction. Kyle Savely, Dunaway and Engleman all finished with 14.
The first quarter was a see-saw battle with the Pioneers holding a 13-11 advantage at the first stop. Providence outscored Corydon 14-4 through the first six minutes of the second set just before the Panthers rallied to the 27-25 halftime score.
After the Panthers took the lead in the third, Weber connected on two of his game-high six three-pointers to bring his team to 39-37. Savely had a deuce and an old-fashioned three around a basket by Marcus Bickwermert to give Corydon a 46-39 cushion heading into the final stanza.
Corydon stayed tough down the stretch, hitting 12 of 16 free throw attempts and going 5-7 from the floor to hold off Providence to the final buzzer, 69-56. In that final quarter, Pruett, the Panthers’ leading scorer, was hit with his fourth and fifth fouls after an exchange with Schamel. Both players crashed hard to the floor with Pruett’s legs entangled with Schamel’s. Pruett was called for the hold, and while getting up, he pushed Schamel’s legs. The official felt the activity was a tad bit excessive and called a technical on top of the hold.
“The only thing we said at that point was that we had to control our emotions. As soon as you start barking at the referees and things like that, that turns them against you. Last year’s guys — you could look at them and not be able to tell if they were mad, up 30 or down 30. These guys, somebody looks at them funny and they get upset,” Gianfagna said.
Despite being without Pruett, Corydon never sputtered in the fourth.
The Panthers shot 22-42 for the game, hit six of 16 three-point tries, drained 19 of 24 free throw attempts, and outrebounded the Pioneers, 32-27.
“I don’t have a problem with a bigger team beating us on the boards, but they were the same size that we are,” Hinton said. “That and not guarding the ball are the two biggest disappointments tonight. Also, Marcus (Bickwermert) was no factor tonight. None.
“I think the kids realize they can play against this team in the sectional. I think they realize that we cannot play well and still be in the ball game against Corydon.”
Weber finished with a game-high 23 and Bickwermert had 10 in the losing effort.
Friday night, Corydon held off a late charge by Paoli to win a heated matchup at Chambers Gymnasium, 77-70.
Rams head coach Mike Brown was ejected with six minutes to go in the ball game after picking up two technical fouls. Just after that, Paoli’s All-Star candidate and Northwestern-signee, Evan Seacat, bombed one of his nine three-pointers to bring his team back to 58-56.
Despite being outrebounded and giving up more turnovers, the visitors’ quickness helped spoil the host’s Homecoming.
Pruett finished with a team-high 20 points and three three-pointers; Craig Keinsley put in 15 with a trio of threes, and Engleman continued to make a good return from mononucleosis as he put up 14 points with three threes.
Seacat, son of former Corydon football great Eldon Seacat, capped the night with 31 points and nine bombs from downtown.