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Panthers tighten defense late, top NH

Panthers tighten defense late, top NH
Panthers tighten defense late, top NH
Corydon Central's Garett Ross, left, defends Cody Johnson in the first half of the Panthers' 61-52 win over North Harrison at the PSC Holiday Tournament Thursday night in Tell City. Ross came up with a pair of steals late in the game to help Corydon Central pull out the win. (Photo by Brian Smith)

The announcer at Tell City High School deemed the opening game of the PSC Holiday Classic Thursday as ‘a cat fight’ during pre-game warm-ups.
Unlike the regular season battle, which resembled nothing like a cat fight when Corydon Central beat North Harrison 72-38 in Ramsey, Thursday’s affair lived up to the announcer’s proclamation. The Cougars showed plenty of fight ‘ and improvements ‘ coming back from 16 down to take the lead in the fourth quarter. After North Harrison took a 47-45 lead with a Chad Eveslage basket, Corydon Central scored the next 11 points to pull away and keep the Cougars winless, 61-52.
‘I must admit, that second half was much better than I saw most of the season,’ Cougars coach Chris Martin said. ‘Just so many good things happen when you are the aggressor. We gave a lot better effort tonight, and it turned out we gave our self a chance to win.’
Down 16 in the third quarter, North Harrison showed that ‘moxie’ Martin has been looking for. Along with guts, a pair of seniors stepped to the forefront and had a hot hand for once. Cody Johnson and Jim Bob Schuler rose to the occasion. Schuler brought the traveling Cougars’ faithful to their feet when he scored 13 of his team-high 20 points in the third quarter. The senior buried three long balls during the span that seemed to put Corydon on its heels. Schuler picked up his fourth foul toward the end of the quarter, forcing the streaky shooter to the sideline.
Will Jones added a late deuce off a steal to cut the margin to two, 42-40, at the end of three quarters.
‘We’ve waited for that all year, from Jim Bob, from Cody, from anybody; we wanted somebody to get hot,’ Martin said. ‘Finally tonight, we put the pressure on them, got plenty of open buckets and Cody did a nice job finding him.’
In the fourth quarter, Johnson gave North Harrison its first lead since the start of the second period when he swished a rainbow trey from the top of the key. The teams traded buckets, including when Corydon’s Calvin Saulman tipped the ball into North Harrison’s basket when he battled Will Jones for a rebound. Martin said he wanted to give Saulman a five when he ran down the court, but Corydon didn’t waver.
Instead, Saulman helped the Panthers tie then take the lead with consecutive buckets, starting the 11-0 run. Corydon coach Jamie Kolkmeier made a key defensive switch to slow Schuler down when he re-entered the game by matching Garett Ross on him. Ross rose to the challenge and shut Schuler down the rest of the night, including coming up with two late steals.
‘Garett was a more athletic guy to put on him, and a little quicker,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘Normally, Adam Ward is our best defender there, but tonight it wasn’t his night. Garett really pressured the ball there and gave him some fits, which led to some good steals. His effort really changed the game in our favor, and we converted some of those key plays at the end.’
Ross finished the game with a game-high 21 points and pulled down seven boards to go with his four steals.
The dagger came when Corydon freshman Brandon Dunaway buried an open three, stretching the lead to 56-47 with less than two minutes to play.
Martin was impressed with the effort that reached another level despite some of the struggles this season.
‘There is effort and there is effort,’ he said. ‘We have gotten our heads down quickly. For some reason tonight, we decided, even when we were down, we were going to play a little bit. That’s the thing ‘ that extra gear we went into tonight and not giving in ‘ we are looking for.’
In the other corner, Corydon (3-4) was riding a four-game losing streak dating back to the blowout win over North Harrison (0-7). Kolkmeier attributed the slide to poor shooting, leading to a lackluster performance on the defensive end.
‘We’ve played really bad and, over the last four games, it has been really poor,’ he said. ‘Kind of questioned our enthusiasm and our effort. Tonight, I thought our effort was much better, I thought we stuck with things a little bit better, such as filling the gaps. In the last four games, there were points where we have given up at times. I wish I had all the answers, but it was just poor basketball.’
The Panthers shot the ball better against North Harrison, hitting 47 percent from the field.
The PSC Holiday Classic concluded Saturday (because of early deadlines, final results were not available at press time).
Other results from the PSC Holiday Classic: Perry Central 69, North Harrison 45; Tell City 72, Corydon Central 53; Tecumseh 48, South Spencer 37; Heritage Hills 68, Boonville 55; Corydon Central 61, North Harrison 52; Tell City 68, Perry Central 65; Boonville 42, South Spencer 41; Tecumseh 62, Heritage Hills 50.
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