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South captures fifth-straight SAC crown

South captures fifth-straight SAC crown
South captures fifth-straight SAC crown
South Central senior Brian Mercer, with ball, sliced between Dee Jones (40) and Daniel Stahly (12) on his way to the basket in the first half of Friday night's Southern Athletic Conference battle. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

The first half of Friday night’s Southern Athletic Conference battle between South Central and New Washington was as exciting as watching a metronome in slow motion, but the second 16 minutes provided thrills galore … for one team,anyway.
The Rebels (16-3, 5-0) clinched their fifth consecutive conference championship in their own house with the 40-25 victory and won their 10th game in a row.
They played Charlestown last night and will face off against rival Corydon Central on the road Friday evening.
Pending the outcome against the Pirates, something has to give on Friday: Corydon and South are on incredible winning streaks. Corydon has won 12 in a row while South has been perfect since dropping a 53-42 decision to the Panthers in the Jeffersonville Holiday Tournament.
Senior Brian Mercer offered up most of the fireworks, nearly outscoring New Washington by himself. He chalked up 12 rebounds, 23 points (including 11 in the third period), and jammed one home with 4:03 left in the game that brought the partisan crowd to its feet.
“(Dee) Jones had three fouls at the half, and we really wanted to attack him inside, and we wanted Brian to be more aggressive,” coach Greg Robinson said after picking up his 100th win as the Rebels’ mentor. “I didn’t care if we were called for a charge or not. We had to a much better job of attacking the basket.”
New Washington (3-16, 1-3) led at the first two stops, 8-7 and 17-13, thanks to a deliberate, time-consuming, slow-down offense using a 1-4 set and a four-corners lineup. It didn’t help matters any that South shot 19 percent the first half.
Things turned for the better in the third period, when Mercer came alive. He scored the first six points for the Rebels, followed by a deuce by Ben Hanus and a trey by Kevin Kendall. Mercer drilled two more shots around a goal by Jones and added a technical free throw to give South a 29-21 advantage after three.
The Mustangs’ Derek Bower banked home a jumper to start the final frame, but that would be the final field goal in the game. Mercer got three the old way, threw down a dunk, and tacked on a jumper. Brad Mercer and Jared Wilkerson each added two frees.
Bower hit two charity tosses to end the scoring in the game.
“That first half we took shots too quick and didn’t get the rebound,” Robinson said. “We took shots that no one was anticipating, and we had no one underneath to get the missed shot. I think we kind of let them lull us to sleep.”
Brad Mercer scored five, Kendall and Alex Sanchez each hit a three for their only points, and Wilkerson, Hanus and Aaron Vaught all scored two apiece.
For the Mustangs, Jones scored eight and Fellows had five.
Robinson said the conference championships mean more to him than the 100 wins.
“In both cases, it’s a matter of me being blessed with really good players,” Robinson admitted. “We have had some really good kids and, hopefully, I’ll be here for 100 more wins.”
This year’s seniors – Mercer, Vaught, Kendall, Sanchez, Wilkerson and Joey Babcock – have a cumulative record of 70-18 with four S.A.C. championships and a sectional title.
South has won 30-straight S.A.C. games.
Alumni game pushed back to late March
The South Central alumni basketball game that was scheduled for this Saturday has been postponed due to the girls’ semi-state basketball game.
A date will be set in late March and all of the proceeds will benefit the Harrison County Relay For Life.
For additional information, contact the school at 969-2941.