Hornets end SC’s 32-game SAC run
The oft-heard phrase, ‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall,’ probably could have been the tag for last Wednesday night’s Southern Athletic Conference battle between Henryville and South Central.
The host Hornets were ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press Class 1A poll. They had won eight straight games and sported the state’s second-leading scorer in Shane Meadows, who tickles the nets to the tune of 29.2 per game.
In the other corner stood South, which sported a 32-game conference winning streak dating back to the 1997-98 season.
At least a share of the league title was at stake, and the winner would likely be the favorite heading into next month’s Henryville Sectional.
While the Rebels held Meadows nine points below his average, they couldn’t contend with Henryville’s physical inside game and wound up suffering a disappointing 69-51 loss at H.G. Furnish Gymnasium.
The Hornets (14-3, 5-0) were led in scoring by Eric Hester’s 21 points. Meadows was right behind with 19, and Josh Day powered in 16 and had 12 rebounds to go along with nine blocked shots.
‘You could tell they didn’t want that streak to die,’ Henryville first-year coach Jack Brooks said. ‘They scrapped and worked hard.’
As time expired, and Hester sank a wildly shot three at the final horn, there was no revelry by the home team. That’s because the job’s not finished, Brooks added: ‘Our task is not done. We clinched a part of the SAC championship now, and we need to beat Lanesville to clinch it solely ourselves. That’s one of our big goals. We respect Lanesville, and we have a job ahead of us to do.’
Brooks looked ahead to the Lanesville game tomorrow (Thursday) night: ‘They have got to be the best 4-11 team in the state. They played North Harrison close, played Corydon close, they had Orleans beat. They are a good basketball team.’
South coach Greg Robinson was upset that his team’s unbeaten streak in the conference had come to an end, and he wasn’t surprised that Henryville did it.
‘(The loss) was going to happen sometime, probably, and we weren’t going to like it when it did, no matter what. It says a lot to the kids who have come through the program and all of the guys we’ve had on the coaching staff the past few years. This is a good team we lost to. We’ve got a ways to go to get them.’
The Rebels (10-7, 4-1) led just once at 2-0 on a bucket inside by senior Deavon Wiseman. Then Day capped a 7-0 run by Henryville with an old-fashioned three. Wiseman halted the spurt with another basket, but Jerry Cochran hit a deuce and Meadows launched a rain-maker from 24 feet that found nothing but the bottom of the net.
After South’s Brad Brown sank one of his four threes on the night and Derek Kaiser swooshed a pair of frees, the Hornets closed out the quarter on a 9-0 run. After one period, the hosts were already up by 10, 21-11.
Defense went out the window in the second frame as the two clubs swapped blows.
South hit its first four shots to pull within four, 24-20, after goals by Wiseman and Brent Wilkerson.
Meadows came to the rescue for his club by sinking his third three of the game and followed with a two-pointer for a 29-20 advantage.
The margin held until the final minute, where Wilkerson sank two free throws to pull the Rebels to 39-32 at the half.
South never got closer than six the rest of the way.
‘We played the last quarter and a half with the intensity level that I think we need to play with in every game,’ Robinson said. ‘We played hard down the stretch and never gave up, but Henryville was so strong. I think their strength there early on might have caught us off guard. Their strength is a big part of their game, and we didn’t handle that very well.’
The Hornets hit 24 of 58 shots and out-rebounded the visitors, 41-36. The club was 17 of 27 from the stripe.
South was 21 of 61 from the field, including 5-17 from Three-Point Land, and drained eight of 15 foul shots.
Seniors Mercer and Brown each scored 12 points for their squad, followed by seven from Chad McRae and six each from Wiseman and Wilkerson. Kaiser and Josh McRae both scored four apiece.
South senior forward Ben Hanus was still on crutches, recovering from a severe high ankle sprain. Robinson said he may be back by the Feb. 20 game against New Washington.