CC’s defensive wave flushes Mt. Vernon
Early last Saturday morning, Corydon Central’s Dana Beaven and Megan Greer were glossing over various newspapers, when they came across a story about their opponent in that afternoon’s Class 3A Southport Semi-state, Mt. Vernon.
Included with the article was a photo of the Marauders’ point guard, senior Gabby Johnson.
Call it wacky, call it superstition or call it motivation, but Beaven and Greer couldn’t wait to get their chomps on Mt. Vernon later that day. So rather than wait, the duo tore Johnson’s photo out of the paper, ripped her in half and ate her.
‘I think I was burping Gabby in the third quarter,’ Beaven said.
Corydon Central, ranked 7th in the final Class 3A poll,’later gobbled up un-ranked’Mt. Vernon with another second-half defensive stand to win the first basketball semi-state championship in the history of the school, and Harrison County as a whole.
Trailing by five at the intermission ‘ due in large part to foul trouble on Beaven and fellow forward Stannye Wolfe ‘ the Lady Panthers kicked their defense into high gear in the final two quarters and blew past the Marauders, 49-38.
Three players reached double digits in scoring for Corydon, led by the two pulp-hungry players: Beaven scored 13 and Greer put in 12.
Junior Megan Bates added 10 and Wolfe scored all nine of her points in the second half, where she also pulled down 11 rebounds.
Jessie Stansbury, another junior, capped Corydon’s scoring with five points, including a three-point dagger in the first period.
The Marauders struggled from the field all afternoon, but the second half was especially troubling for head coach Julie Shelton.
After shooting 30 percent in the first half, Mt. Vernon was held to 20 percent in the second 16 minutes.
Shelton said her club lived and died by the three all season. On Saturday, her club simply impaled itself with poor shooting.
The Marauders went 11 of 44 from the field, 6 of 22 beyond the arc and 10 of 20 at the foul stripe.
In the pivotal third period, Mt. Vernon hit just one free throw in five attempts.
‘Their defense was good, and their half-court trap kept us from being not so aggressive,’ Shelton said. ‘We also have lived and died with the three-point shot, and today we couldn’t hit them.
‘I don’t think we hit many shots at all.’
Mount Vernon’s Lindsay Crawford, who led the way for her club with 21 points, kicked off the game with a three-pointer.
Beaven answered with back-to-back buckets inside, but the Marauders (19-7) would answer with a pair of free throws from Jenni Tamarri and another triple from Crawford.
Trailing 8-4, Stansbury and Greer sank triples exactly one minute apart to give Corydon a 10-8 lead it would hold heading into the second period.
The Lady Panthers took a big hit, however, as Wolfe picked up her second foul with 4:24 left in the opening frame.
Johnson knocked down a triple to start the second period. Over the next three minutes, Corydon would get a steal and lay-in by Bates, a deuce from Beaven and a three-ball from Greer.
From there, Mt. Vernon staged a rally to take the lead.
It was no coincidence the run came while Beaven joined Wolfe on the bench with two fouls.
Crawford marked an old-fashioned three-point play, Johnson scored and Brittany Nickerson, who played despite having a broken eye socket suffered in the regional final the week before, had a steal and lay-up.
Corydon’s final possession of the half fell by the wayside when Nickerson picked off a pass and raced to the other end.
Bates was called for the intentional foul, and Mt. Vernon’s sophomore forward sank both free throws to give her club its 21-17 lead.
‘At the end of the second quarter Mt. Vernon made a run and we did not react to it very well,’ Corydon coach Michael Uhl said. ‘I think the class and the character that these individuals have dug us out of a hole and got us on a good run there to finish the game.’
The Lady Panthers dominated the third quarter.
Wolfe marked the first two field goals, followed by a three-point play by Bates, a basket by Beaven and another three from Greer.
Johnson tried to slow the bleeding with a driving bucket, but Greer countered at the other end with her fourth and final three of the game for a 32-23 lead with 51 seconds left.
Nickerson would hit a free throw in the final half-second of the quarter, but by then the damage had been done.
‘We went to a half-court trap in the third quarter and that got us on a run. We had our hands up, we really moved and we executed well defensively,’ Uhl said.
In the fourth stanza, a late 9-0 run by the Lady Panthers sent the throng of CCHS fans into a tizzy.
Crawford hit a couple of late threes from way downtown, but it was too little too late for the Marauders.
‘Our defense has been as good as anything. That’s what got us here. Defense wins games,’ Greer said.
Corydon went 16 of 35 from the floor, 5 of 15 on threes and 12 of 20 at the foul stripe.
The Lady Panthers out-rebounded Mt. Vernon, 34-27.
Uhl was asked about his thoughts on taking a team to the state finals in only his ninth season.
‘I’ve only been there once at the all-star game in 2000 when Lynne (Johnson) was a senior. I got one of those cheap, $5 tickets and sat way up top,’ Corydon’s coach joked. ‘It’s going to be nice going back. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s been a goal, but it’s something that we haven’t talked about yet. Since day one in practice, we were going to focus on our next opponent and that was it. We were going to try and get better every day in practice and whoever our next opponent was, that’s who we were talking about. So, we haven’t talked about (playing at Conseco) yet.’
As for the matchup against South Bend St. Joseph’s, Uhl believes his club’s best game has yet to be played.
‘This might sound like I’m saying something bad or something negative, which I’m not trying to do. But we still haven’t had that game where we’ve clicked on all cylinders. We did that a couple of times last year and we beat some teams bad. We haven’t had that game yet. It would be nice to have that Saturday,’ Uhl said.
For Uhl’s players, the trip to the state final is a dream come true.
‘This is how you’d want to end your career. I know that’s going to be my last game and it’ll be great to end my career (at Conseco),’ Beaven said. ‘Especially since this is my senior year.’
Point guard Stansbury, who is part of the Class of 2006 that has compiled a record of 62-10 at the high school level after going 61-0 before varsity, said reaching Conseco Fieldhouse is the culmination of years of dreams.
‘This is the best of everything, simply because from the day me and Megan (Greer) started in AAU when we were nine years old, we always dreams of making it to state in high school,’ Stansbury said. ‘We thought that as juniors we’d be able to make it, now here we are, living our dream, this is the best of any of anything we’ve accomplished before.’
Editor’s note: We received an entertaining ‘Live Wire’ call after Corydon’s victory; however, due to a backlog of calls that have yet to appear, it was impossible for the caller’s wish to get through for this week’s edition.
We enjoyed it so much (and figured others would, too), that we decided to bend the rules a bit and bring this one to the front. Here’s the call:
Congratulations, Corydon Central Lady Panthers, on winning the semi-state.
Let’s win it all at the Conseco Fieldhouse on Saturday.
I’d like to see everyone that goes to the pep rally Thursday night to bring a copy of this song for everyone to sing, sung to the theme of ‘Smokey and the Bandit.’
‘State bound and down, Lady Panthers thumpin’. We’re gonna do what they say can’t be done. We got a long way to go and a short time to get there. Come on, fans, just watch ’em Panthers run.’ Good luck, Lady Panthers, and kick ‘er sideways.