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Corydon makes it two straight championships

Corydon makes it two straight championships
Corydon makes it two straight championships
Josh Pruett of Corydon Central, left, lets a three-point shot fly with 1.4 seconds left in the third quarter of Saturday night's final of the North Harrison 3A Sectional. The shot was nothing but net and proved to be the turning point of the game. (Photo by Randy West)

A couple of minutes after losing a bruising battle to Corydon Central on Jan. 26, Providence coach Joe Hinton told a colleague on the sidelines that he wouldn’t lose to the Panthers again if they were to play in the sectional.
Randy Gianfagna’s army had something to say about that.
A quick flurry of points by Kyle Savely and Josh Pruett at the end of the third quarter, some stingy defense by Quentin Combs, and a couple of early bombs by Zach Engleman proved too much for the feisty Pioneers. Corydon Central (17-6) scored its second straight 3A sectional title Saturday night in Ramsey, 68-52.
It was Corydon’s 10th championship overall. Last year the club won the Greensburg 3A Regional before being ousted by Indianapolis Brebeuf in the Washington Semistate.
With 80 percent of its scoring and 77 percent of its rebounding being lost to graduation, no one expected such a green group to win many games this season, much less a sectional. However, before the season, Gianfagna brought up a good point: many of this year’s players took on the 2001 edition in practice every day.
Obviously, that grind helped this year’s club: Corydon returns to the “Hatchet House” Saturday at 12:30 p.m. to take on Edgewood (12-11) in the second game of the Washington 3A Regional.
In the sectional final, there wasn’t much the Panthers could have done better statistically.
Corydon was 22-40 (55 percent) from the field and 6-13 (46 percent) beyond the arc. The club hit 18 of 23 tries from the charity line and had just seven turnovers. Providence beat the Panthers in one only category — rebounds — where they cleaned the glass of 32 misses to Corydon’s 27.
In all, five Panthers reached double figures, led by the 14 of Pruett and Engleman, 13 from Savely, 11 from bombardier Craig Keinsley, and 10 by rugged forward Jeff Conrad.
Balance has been one key to Corydon’s success this year: the team owns a 9-1 record when four or more players reach double figures. The only loss was in overtime Dec. 14 against Scottsburg. Another strong point for Corydon has been defense. In the first round of the North Harrison Sectional, Corydon pulled out a 59-56 win over Scottsburg. In that win, only three Panthers reached double digits.
In the championship game, both teams battled to take control in the first quarter. The Panthers opened with a 7-0 run halfway through the period and took a 15-10 lead at the first stop. Providence (16-6), which never led, kept the Panthers from getting too far ahead thanks to some strong defense by Tress Cobb on Corydon’s leading scorer, Josh Pruett. The senior gunner was held scoreless, but classmate Zach Engleman picked up the slack by nailing a pair of treys and two free throws for 10 first half points.
Providence’s Quincy Sowder hit a deuce to cap the second period and set the score at 25-21 heading into the break.
Corydon extended its lead slightly in the third but never quite got to double digits. Providence’s J.W. Nickell hit a three-pointer with 40 seconds to play in the period that pulled the Pioneers within two, 40-38, and appeared to give Hinton’s team the momentum.
Then IT happened. Corydon held the ball for what appeared was going to be one last shot. The Panthers’ nimble point guard, Kyle Savely, hit a shot from just inside the three-point arc with three seconds to play in the quarter. Providence rushed an inbounds pass, which was stolen by Pruett, who nailed a three as the horn sounded, giving Corydon a 45-38 cushion. It was a crushing blow for Providence.
The whirlwind of baskets gave the Black and Gold crew all the momentum it would need the rest of the game. Corydon out-rebounded Providence 10-5 and nailed 11 of 13 free throws in the final frame to seal the victory.
Marcus Bickwermert of Providence led all scorers with 18. Brad Schamel had 13 points with 11 rebounds and Cobb put in 12.
Corydon 72, Madison 67
The Hoosier Hills Conference is known statewide for its tough, hard-nosed teams. So it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise that Madison’s boys basketball team rallied from 20 points down in the second quarter to tie it at 60-60 very late in the sectional semifinal against Corydon.
The Panthers weathered the storm, made their free throws and won the game, 72-67, to advance to the final of the North Harrison Sectional.
Madison (13-9) actually led in the early going, 9-8, on a jumper by Andy Povaleri, but its big men got in quick foul trouble. Corydon came back to lead the first frame, 19-15, and then exploded to the half with a 24-8 run to lead 43-23 at the break.
After a basket-trading affair in the third, the Cubs’ brilliant 6-0 senior guard Danny Gibson led a monster comeback in the final eight minutes.
Quentin Combs opened in the fourth with a big lay-up for Corydon, which was followed by a 15-1 Madison run.
With just over three minutes left, it was tied at 60, and Madison looked strong.
But Combs scored a deuce to give Corydon the lead and picked off a pass by Madison to score a wide-open lay-up again. In a matter of seconds, Corydon was up by four.
The Cubs could get no closer than two the rest of the way as Combs and Corydon iced six straight frees to secure the victory.
Josh Pruett led the way with 25 points, Combs had 16, and Kyle Savely 10.
Craig Keinsley had seven as well for the winners.
Gibson led the charge for Madison with 28 points, including five threes.