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Corydon's Kyle Savely (3) picked the pocket of North Harrison's John Shearer and was off and running for the basket in the Corydon sectional final. Savely finished with 33 points to lead the Panthers to a fourth straight sectional championship. (Photos by Wade Bell)

The crowd was big, the noise was loud, and the electricity was charged to full capacity as country rivals Corydon and North Harrison took to the floor for the championship game of the Class 3A Corydon Sectional Saturday night.
The contest lived up to everybody’s expectations. It was a game that saw hands so hot asbestos gloves were needed to shake them. It was a game that saw the proverbial pendulum swing back and forth all night. It was also a game that if you got too close to Kyle Savely, you were liable to have your pocket picked.
At the end, Corydon Central came away with an unprecedented four-peat, 55-49.
Kyle Savely led the Panthers from an 11-point deficit and finished with 33 points and six steals. He put in 18 of his points in a pivotal fourth period.
‘We needed a little boost, and I got a couple of lucky steals,’ Savely said. ‘Sometimes they were turning at the wrong time. I just anticipated it right and it went my way.’
‘I didn’t think we were going to be able to win by six. If we were going to make the run, we’d win by one or two, get a bucket at the end. We came on strong, and it’s fun to play like that.’
The hot hands came early as North Harrison’s Blake Snodgrass put away three three-balls and a deuce in the first 5-1/2 minutes, leading the Cougars to a 13-5 lead.
Cory Beach and Krieg Reed pushed the Cougars to a 10-point lead before Kurt Savely gave the Panthers a triple, closing the game back to seven, 17-10, at the end of the first period.
The pendulum swung Corydon’s way in the second period, as the hosts outscored the Cougars 8-2. Kyle Savely picked John Shearer’s pocket twice for lay-ins, pulling the Panthers within two, 19-17.
The pendulum then made a quick swing back to North, as the Cougars closed the half with a 7-2 run powered by three Krieg Reed baskets. The Cougars led 26-19 at intermission as Snodgrass and Reed combined for 23 of North’s 26 first half points.
Two Corydon players who started slowly were Kurt Savely and Eric Haub. Savely had just two field goals the first half ‘ both threes ‘ while Haub was on the bench with two quick fouls.
‘In sectional finals, that kind of stuff happens,’ said Corydon coach Randy Gianfagna. ‘I think a lot of it had to deal with (North Harrison). They played pretty good defense in the first half. It was one of those deals where they played well, and we didn’t play real well.’
‘We just needed to work the ball,’ Kurt Savely said. ‘There at the beginning, everybody just started shooting. We knew we just had to start slowing it down, and that’s usually when our game starts coming together. We slowed down instead of running.’
Blake Snodgrass scored 13 of North Harrison’s points the first half.
‘Blake got us off to a great start,’ said North coach Rick Snodgrass. ‘He didn’t get many looks after that. It’s a credit to their defense.’
Kyle Savely missed a three to begin the second half, then Reed scored twice for North Harrison, pushing the Cougar lead to 11, 30-19. The Panthers called time-out to refocus.
‘I knew we had to press it on,’ Kurt Savely said. ‘Everybody on our team knew it was coming. We were diving for every ball. We knew we had to do what we had to do. We got it done.’
Corydon mounted a run following the break, as Kyle Savely scored the next seven points. Reed got two of those back for the Cougars, but Savely connected again from eight feet out.
Haub finally scored with less than a minute to go in the third. Ty Rothrock scored with two seconds left, and the Cougars had an eight-point gap, 38-30, with one quarter remaining.
‘We were shooting over people,’ Gianfagna said. ‘I felt like (Kyle) was flipping his shots instead of shooting it. But big game players play big. They did a great job defensively on us for about three quarters, then Kyle took over offensively.’
The two teams traded points early in the first. Then, at 7:08, Kyle Savely was hit with a technical foul. Snodgrass hit both free throws, which would be his last points, as North Harrison’s lead stretched back to 10.
The killer shot, however, came next as Ryan Herndon drilled a three-ball at 6:12. Corydon called timeout, Kyle Savely forced another turnover and scored, closing the gap to five.
‘When they got up by 11, we didn’t feel like there was anything we could do,’ Kyle Savely said. ‘Herndon hit a real big shot to put it down to seven in the corner with a three-pointer. We just came together after that. We got in a 1-3-1 and pushed it up real far and got it going after that.’
Mitchell scored inside for North Harrison, but Kyle Savely answered with a triple. The Cougars turned the ball over twice and Savely scored again.
Reed scored inside, but Savely answered with a three-ball, cutting the deficit to just one with 2:57 to go.
Mitchell scored again, and Savely got a three-point play, followed with a deuce by Kurt Savely, pushing Corydon in front for the first time.
Mitchell got one of those back, hitting one of two free throws to cut the gap back to one, but it would be North Harrison’s final point of the season.
The Panthers hit five of six free throws, leaving a stunned North Harrison crowd standing in silence while the Panther cheerblock flooded onto the floor as Corydon four-peated with a 55-49 win.
North Harrison had eight turnovers in the fourth quarter, where Corydon hit eight of 12 shots. ‘When we finally got the lead, I felt like it was going to be our game,’ Gianfagna said. ‘We started trapping them, and they were running set plays, set plays, set plays. Once we got them throwing the ball around a little bit, I felt like we were going to get it in our favor. Down the stretch, we went with our 1-4 (defense), and I very rarely do that. We weren’t getting much else out of it, so we just said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ‘
‘Our kids just didn’t finish as strong as I’d like,’ said Coach Snodgrass. ‘I thought we played a great ball game. I thought we played a great defensive game. We just didn’t get very good looks the second half. We got stagnated a little bit putting the ball in the corner.’
‘I want to give credit to Corydon. We knew that defense. They played it the first time against us. We just got trapped too quick and didn’t get the ball moving.’
Kurt Savely followed his twin-brother’s 33 with 10 points. The Panthers were 21 of 47 from the field (44 percent), hit eight of 13 free throws, and committed 10 turnovers.
‘They’re extremely quick, and (Kyle) Savely is very good at reading things,’ Snodgrass said. ‘We made a couple of mistakes and allowed them to hit three-point shots. Then all of a sudden it went from 10 to four. When it does that against a good team, the momentum switches.’
Reed led the Cougars with 20 points, while Snodgrass, who was averaging 26, was held to just 15. The Cougars were 18 of 44 from the field (41 percent) and hit just 3 of 16 three-point attempts. North Harrison made 10 of 12 free throws, but turned the ball over 18 times.
‘That’s what our whole thing was, to stay in front of him,’ Kurt Savely said of keeping Snodgrass in check. ‘If we could take him out, everything would fall into place.’
‘Corydon’s a nice ball club,’ said Snodgrass, whose team finished 17-5. ‘They’ve got some quickness and took advantage of that. They made a nice comeback. Their 1-3-1 trap did a very good job. They’re a veteran team. They’ve been here four years in a row now.’
‘Tonight was a great high school ball game. Two teams battled it out. I’m very proud of our kids. We just didn’t finished the end of the game. I don’t want to take anything away from Corydon. ‘We had a great year. We just got beat by a good ball club.’