Defense pushes CCJH to boys county championship
This year’s group of junior high Panthers proved its mettle to head coach Mike Biddle time and time again. On Saturday, Corydon Central showed its moxie one more time as it brought home a fourth consecutive Harrison County Junior High Championship.
The Panthers (14-5) won the hard-fought tussle with its defense, forcing 13 second half turnovers to turn an all-even game at the half into a 35-27 victory over Lanesville.
‘We lost three games by a total of six points this season, so they’ve been tested,’ Biddle said. ‘We lost the first two games of the year and then as the season went on, we got better. I think those close games helped us in this one. We’re not quite as talented as we’ve been in the past, but these kids work every bit as hard.’
Corydon trailed at the first stop, 8-4, but a personal 7-0 run by Dylan Harl put the Panthers ahead, 11-8.
Lanesville’s Bryant Conder kicked off a 6-2 spurt for his team, and then Corydon’s Ryan Robison sank one free throw to make it 14-14 at the half.
Conder scored five points in the third period, where the Eagles held a 19-18 lead at one point before Corydon closed out with a 5-0 run.
The Panthers, up by four heading into the final frame, turned up the defensive pressure and forced a slew of turnovers.
Lanesville failed to hit a field goal until 3:29 remained when Conder scored inside again.
Robison and Casey Saulman sank free throws for the Panthers, then Lanesville’s Josh Bowman drained a three to make it a five-point affair, 29-24, with :32 left.
Corydon’s Robison, Saulman and Harl got the job done at the foul stripe, hitting all six tries in the final half-minute when Lanesville was forced to foul.
Bowman hit another three with two seconds left, setting the final score at 35-27.
‘We got a little tired emotionally and physically,’ Lanesville coach Brian Book said. ‘We didn’t lose for a lack of effort. We just lost our energy and our mental edge late in the game.’
Biddle said he knew his club would be in for a dogfight despite knocking off the Eagles (11-8) earlier in the season, 40-18: ‘The score won’t show it, but Lanesville’s kids played really hard the first time we played.’
Corydon was paced by Harl’s 12 points, eight by Robison and Andrew Simler and four by Saulman, the team’s representative on the all-tourney team. Kevin Higginbotham scored two and Brandon Dunaway had eight.
The Panthers defeated North Harrison, 42-33, to reach the final behind the 13 points of Saulman.
The Eagles had only three players score: Conder finished with 13, Bowman had 10 and Andy Glomb notched four.