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Rebs’ rally falls short against Corydon

Rebs’ rally falls short against Corydon
Rebs’ rally falls short against Corydon
More than 2,300 fans jammed the gymnasium at South Central on Friday night for the annual clash between South Harrison School Corp. rivals South Central and Corydon Central. Rebels senior Brad Mercer (12) sliced between Josh Stepro (45) and Kurt Savely (21) for an early bucket. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

Hoops fanatics stuffed the gymnasium in Elizabeth on Friday night for an intra-county battle between Corydon Central and South Central. When the varsity quintets tipped off, fannies had to be squished and arms and legs had to be tucked in tight for what turned out to be a 32-minute roller-coaster ride.
South Central rolled to an early lead, fell behind by as many as 21 points in the third quarter, closed within two points in the fourth quarter on senior Brad Mercer’s seven three pointers (and a career-high 26 points), and then lost by six, 73-67.
It was only after the final horn that the 2,300 people there could catch their collective breath.
Despite the loss, Rebels skipper Greg Robinson was giddy about his squad and especially Mercer’s late performance.
‘Craig Schoen scored 52 points in three quarters in a game, but that rivaled it. That was something,’ Robinson said. ‘It’s too bad he was in foul trouble early.
‘(Mercer) really didn’t get on track until the second half. He’s struggled all year hitting the outside shot, and it’s good to see them go down tonight. Going into the tournament, if we can keep him on that kind of a roll, I think we’ll be okay.’
The two clubs battled neck-and-neck through much of the first period, which ended with the host Rebels leading, 17-14. South coaxed in just two field goals in the second frame as the Panthers rolled out to a 30-22 halftime advantage.
Corydon appeared to have blown the game open in the third, holding a 21-point lead (45-24) with just over three minutes left on a crowd-pleasing, senior-to-senior, brother-to-brother play between the Savely twins.
Kurt Savely came up with a steal and waited until the last second to thread the ball past a Rebel defender. Kyle Savely came up with the sphere and did an acrobatic reverse lay-in.
Just when it looked like South was on life support, Mercer provided the shock to bring the hosts back to life. The senior hit a three ‘ his first points of the game ‘ with 2:53 showing in the third. And the treys just kept coming: Mercer and classmate Brad Brown paired up to sink nine more in the next eight minutes to close within two, 67-65, with one minute left in the game.
Corydon senior Eric Haub sank one of two free throws. On South’s ensuing possession, Kyle Savely came up with a steal and raced to the other end for an easy deuce to effectively put the game away.
The Panthers avenged their earlier seven-point loss to South Central on Dec. 23 at the Jeffersonville Holiday Tournament, 73-67. The Savely twins, led by Kyle’s 32 point-night, combined for 52 of their team’s 73 points.
It was Savely’s seventh game of the season at 30 points or better. He nowy ranks 5th in the state in offense at 26.2 points a game and is averaging 26.6 on Corydon’s current seven-game win streak.
The Panthers could not control South’s three-point shooting, especially the fourth quarter: the hosts bombed 14 of 32 for the game, including a sizzling 7-of-13 in the final frame.
‘If we worked the ball a little bit better, they wouldn’t have been able to shoot like that,’ Corydon coach Randy Gianfagna said. ‘Defensively, we didn’t do a very good job. We threw the ball all over the gym and didn’t make our free throws. We looked sluggish the last two days of practice, so we weren’t looking good coming in.’
Corydon (14-7) jumped out to a 5-0 lead on a two by Haub and three by James Yeager, but Brown put South on top with back-to-back triples to push his team to a 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Savelys scored the first five points of the second quarter, and Rebel senior Brent Wilkerson put in a jumper to keep his club on top.
Kurt Savely put in three of his 11 points in the period and Corydon raced off to a 30-22 halftime lead.
The Panthers opened the third frame with a 15-2 run and led 45-24 before the Rebels rallied to 49-35 by the end of the quarter.
Slowly and methodically, South Central ‘ and its fans ‘ got back into the game. The most furious charge came in the final 4:41.
Haub sank a free throw to push the gap to 61-45 before the Rebels went berserk.
Brown hit a three and Wilkerson had a steal and lay-in that was followed by a pair of Kyle Savely freebies. Brown and Mercer tacked on back-to-back threes before Kyle Savely had a steal and lay-in. Mercer swished a three, was fouled by Kurt Savely and converted the rare four-point play to trail 65-60.
Corydon would only manage one field goal over the final 2:43 as South continued to claw back. Yeager and Kyle Savely each netted a free throw around a three by Brown, and Wilkerson brought the Rebels as close as they’d come with two frees of his own.
South was held to just two free throws the rest of the way.
‘When we got down by 21, I called a time-out and said, ‘Boys it’s going to get real ugly if we don’t buckle down.’ We cut into it and had it in a position where if we got it under 10, we could make it a game,’ Robinson said. ‘After every time-out, the kids were coming to the huddle saying, ‘This is do-able. This is do-able.’ They knew they were playing well and that they had Corydon in a position where maybe we could make a run at them.’
The winners continued their hot shooting by sinking 23 of 46 from the field and 7-14 on three-point shots. Corydon was its own worst enemy from the line, however, hitting just 20 of 31 free throw attempts.
After the 32 from Kyle Savely and 20 from Kurt Savely, Haub scored nine and Yeager put in seven. Sophomore Ryan Herndon added five. The Panthers failed to garner a single point off the bench.
‘We settled for jumpers. We weren’t able to run our offense, and that’s a credit to their defense,’ Gianfagna said.
South Central was 23 of 61 from the floor, including 14 of 32 from beyond the arc. The Rebels got to the line just nine times and hit seven. Corydon won the battle of the boards, 34-32, and turnovers for both clubs were unusually high: the Panthers kicked the ball around 17 times, South 20.
Mercer scored 26 and knocked down seven threes; Brown had 18 points and six threes; Hanus scored eight; Wilkerson had six; Kaiser five, and Wiseman had two points.
‘It was a pretty physical game. We’re a lot more physical now than we were in January. I have to tip my hat to our jayvee coach, J.R. Drummond. He has put these kids through a great weight workout here in the second half of the season that I think is paying dividends now,’ Robinson said.