Cooler heads prevail as CC picks up title
If Corydon thought Friday night’s 3A Madison Sectional Semi-final engagement against rival North Harrison was tough, they hadn’t seen anything yet.
In a rematch of last year’s sectional championship in Ramsey, the Panthers brawled with Providence. But, also like last year’s final, cooler heads prevailed and Corydon came out on top for an unprecedented sectional three-peat, 58-36.
Hall of Fame Providence coach Joe Hinton was ejected with only 3:41 left in the first period after picking up two technical fouls in a matter of seconds. With 3:10 left in the game, Pioneer senior Kyle Megraw was sent to the sidelines for shoving Corydon’s Nevin Dunaway into the bleachers.
The Panthers never showed signs of losing their composure, however, calmly sinking 11 of 15 free throws in the fourth quarter and cruising to their 17th-straight victory.
Providence (11-11) used a diamond-and-one defense against Corydon, focusing most of its pressure on the Panthers’ leading scorer, Kyle Savely. The move almost worked to perfection, with Savely knocking down three of four free throws from Hinton’s technicals – for his only points of the night. From the field, he was 0 for 5. Nevertheless, he still played a strong floor game with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocked shots.
“In the first half, we were walking the ball up the court and really got caught in their tempo,” Corydon coach Randy Gianfagna said. “We knew that defense was coming, and we didn’t handle it well. Once we figured it out, we got lay-ups.”
The Panthers (18-6) just gave the ball to Quentin Combs.
Just as he’d done the night before in a win over North, the nimble Combs twisted and darted through Providence’s defense and put in 18 points, including 16 in the second half. He also had five rebounds and four assists.
“The middle was wide open,” Combs said. “We were able to get inside quite a bit, and when you do that, either you can hit the shot or pass off to someone else.”
Kurt Savely, Kyle’s twin, also stepped up big, knocking down four threes in five attempts and finishing with a career-high 14 points. Dunaway scored 10 with eight rebounds; James Yeager put in five points; senior Jeff Conrad had four points and five rebounds; Eric Haub finished with two, and Michael Emily and Jonathon Robinson tacked on one point apiece.
“Coach (Jerry) Conrad had a copy of the South Central-Providence tape and saw that the wing jumpers would be open,” Gianfagna said. “That’s Kurt’s shot, and he did his job. Coach did a great job seeing that, and Kurt did a great job executing.”
Providence led just once, when Ryan Neal buried a three from the corner after Dunaway had scored the game’s opening points. After Dunaway drew a charge on Pioneer freshman phenom Keevan Miller, Corydon’s Yeager dropped home a three to give his team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
It was after Yeager’s triple that Hinton told official David Moore, “That one’s on you,” to pick up the first technical. After some heated discussion, Hinton was slapped with his second “T” and sent to the locker room, and left the coaching duties in assistant Todd Howard’s hands.
Savely then dropped in three frees for an 8-3 advantage.
Neal and Miller sandwiched buckets inside around a Kurt Savely three to end the first quarter at 11-7 in favor of the Panthers.
After Corydon had pushed the lead to 19-9 on two more threes by Savely, Providence made its only true charge of the night.
Neal scored a two and a three, and Tyler Adkinson added a deuce for a 7-0 spurt to cut the deficit to 19-16 with 1:51 left in the half. Combs countered with a steal and lay-in, and Dunaway had a goal with two ticks left for a 23-16 halftime lead.
The two clubs traded points in the third period, which ended at 35-27, but Corydon took complete control in the final eight minutes.
The Panthers out-rebounded their opponent 15-2 in the period and allowed just four field goals in a 23-9 rout.
“It all starts with guards and seniors,” Gianfagna said. “Our kids played hard. This was ‘Redemption Week’ for us, and we got two teams back from losing to them earlier in the season. Starting off 1-6 and going 18-6 is pretty dang good.”
Corydon shot 19 of 40 for the game and was 5-10 on three-pointers. For the sectional, the club was 11 of 18 (61 percent) on threes, 65 of 123 (52 percent) from the field, and went to the line a whopping 92 times, hitting 64 (69 percent).
Providence, led by 15 points from Neal and 10 from Miller, was 15 of 42 from the field (including 8-24 in the second half), 5 of 20 on threes, and went to the line just two times the entire night, hitting one. Corydon had 11 turnovers and Providence 14.
“When we got the lead, Quentin was able to take control,” Gianfagna said. “Defensively, we were able to hold them and create some turnovers, which we converted for quick scores that helped us stay out front.”
Corydon 75, North Harrison 64
The “guns” were locked away for the semifinal round of the Class 3A Madison Sectional on Friday night as county rivals North Harrison and Corydon Central squared off for a chance to advance to the championship game.
Combined from long-range, the normally eagle-eyed shooters from both North (17-5) and Corydon (18-6) hit just four threes total, thanks to a near flawless game plan by Coach Randy Gianfagna of the Panthers and Coach Rick Snodgrass of the Cougars.
While North Harrison got the outing of a lifetime from senior Cody Mitchell, who tallied 20 points and 10 rebounds, North simply could not construct a barrier inside to stop the Panthers’ dynamic guard duo of senior Quentin Combs and junior Kyle Savely. The pair sliced and diced their way in the paint better than Ginsu and accounted for 46 of their team’s 75 points. Savely ended with 23 points (surprisingly with no three-pointers), and Combs scored 21 as Corydon avenged an early season loss to the Cougars, 75-64.
Numbers-wise, Friday’s game was almost a mirror image of November’s 76-67 win by North Harrison in several categories.
The Cougars put up 18 threes in both outings. They hit 10 the last time the two clubs met, but just three last week. North hit a total of 23 field goals in both games, but attempted just 42 in the first matchup; 58 in the second. In both tilts, North out-rebounded Corydon by four.
So what was the final difference in North’s earlier win versus Corydon’s sectional romp? The obvious answer was free throws.
In the first meeting, North was 20 of 30, Corydon 10 of 13. In the second clash, the Panthers hit more frees than the Cougars attempted, knocking down 26 of 35. North got to the line only 18 times and hit 15.
“It was just a great effort defensively out top tonight by both teams,” North assistant Kelly Cooper said. “I think we probably took too many threes. It feels weird saying that, but they defended it pretty well, and the shots we took were pretty contested.”
Corydon started the game with a 10-3 lead in the first quarter, held it to 15-9 at the first stop, and maintained the advantage at the half, 35-29.
After sophomore Eric Haub had back-to-back lay-ins and Nevin Dunaway had a steal and lay-up to go up 41-29, Snodgrass called North’s final timeout with 6:05 left in the third period.
North responded with an 11-2 run midway through the quarter to cut the deficit to two, 46-42. Haub stopped the bleeding with another basket inside, and Krieg Reed helped North with a put-back at the 1:11 mark.
Daniel Love was called for an intentional foul against Savely, who dropped home two free throws. On the ensuing possession, Combs had a bucket with a minute left to set the score at the end of the third at 52-46.
Savely had two frees to start the final period and added a jumper, but the closest the Cougars would come the rest of the way was seven points, 57-50, on back-to-back baskets by Mitchell.
“(Mitchell) played a heck of a game,” Gianfagna said. “He handled us inside pretty well. I thought the second half we did much better, but I know he was in some foul trouble, too.
“Our perimeter defense was pretty good. We couldn’t let them get going from the outside, and our turnovers couldn’t turn into points for them. They got a lot of points off turnovers, but we didn’t give them the outside shot. If we wanted to win, that was going to be a key for us.”
The Panthers dropped home 15 of 20 shots from the foul stripe in the final quarter while North hit just six of 21 attempts from the field.
In addition to Mitchell’s 20-point outing, Blake Snodgrass scored 15 with three assists and four rebounds; senior Chad Miller scored 11 with six rebounds; Love had nine points; Reed and Ross Schulz each scored four, and Jon Couts added a lone free throw.
North Harrison was 23 of 58 from the floor and 3-18 on threes. The Cougars committed 17 turnovers while Corydon fumbled the ball 19 times.
For Corydon, Jeff Conrad scored eight points with three steals and two rebounds, Dunaway had six points with four boards, Haub (five rebounds) and James Yeager both tacked on six points apiece and Kurt Savely finished with four.
The Panthers shot 24 of 41 (58 percent) for the game.