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Records fall in 3OT thriller

Records fall in 3OT thriller
Records fall in 3OT thriller
Corydon Central's Meghan Bussabarger gets fouled on a shot attempt in the first quarter. The senior set two school records during the Lady Panthers' win. (Photos by Brian Smith)

Weather may have moved the Corydon Central-South Central girls’ basketball game back two days, but the forecast Thursday inside Corydon Central’s gym called for drama and a record-setting performance.
An instant classic, Lady Panther senior Meghan Bussabarger scored 45 points and pulled down 25 rebounds in a 70-62 victory that required three overtimes for the host team.
‘I had no idea,’ Bussabarger said about her stats. ‘I thought I had around 20 and that was it.’
Twenty is what Bussabarger had in the overtimes, including nine in the third, and final, extra stanza.
The Lady Panthers built a 15-point cushion in the first half, but South Central came out with a relentless half-court trap that turned the tide of the game. With increased defensive pressure, South Central also began to rain 3-pointers on its end of the floor. By holding Corydon Central to 16 second-half points and sinking six treys of its own, the Lady Panthers were able to force the overtime.
The Lady Rebels never had the lead but tied the game at 46-46 with 1:31 to play with a Megan Sherrard 3-pointer. Neither team was able to score after the Sherrard trey, forcing the first overtime.
In all three overtimes, Bussabarger scored the first basket. Her first-quarter field goal was countered with a Shelby Miller 3-pointer, giving South Central its first lead at 49-48. Miller, who finished with 30 points, later added a pair of free throws. Rachel Pease sank a single with 28 seconds left to extend the Lady Rebels’ lead to 52-48.
Corydon Central wasn’t done. Out of a time out, Bussabarger drilled an open 3-pointer in the left corner, pulling the Lady Panthers within one. With 12.2 seconds left, South Central attempted a baseball pass run-out, but Sherrard’s lay-up attempt rimmed out. Bussabarger pulled down the board, raced down the court and missed a jumper. Fortunately for Corydon Central, Janae Smith came up with the rebound and was fouled on her attempted put-back. Smith made one of two attempts, making the score 52-all with 1.2 left, forcing a second overtime.
‘I don’t think it should have gotten to the overtime,’ Corydon Central coach Michael Uhl said. ‘Then it shouldn’t have gotten to the second overtime when we got a break. We just didn’t do enough to close it.’
The second overtime played opposite of the first. Single free throws from Bussabarger and Smith, along with a Bussabarger field goal, put Corydon Central up 56-52 quickly.
Whitney Pease answered for South Central, burying a 3-pointer but was followed by a Bussabarger field goal. Bussabarger and Miller exchanged a single free throw each, allowing the Lady Panthers to hold steady with a 59-56 lead with 5.5 seconds left.
On the inbound, Miller raced down the floor and, as she drew defenders, found an open Sherrard in the left corner. The senior swished the trey at the buzzer, sending the crowd into another frenzy and the game a third overtime.
Yet in the third overtime, it was all Bussabarger and Corydon Central. A lone Miller 3-pointer was all the Lady Rebels could muster. Corydon Central outscored its rival to the south 11-3 in the third overtime for the 70-62 final.
The win was the third in a row for the Lady Panthers.
‘We were hoping to be somewhere around this,’ Uhl said. ‘I thought we took a step backwards tonight, but South Central made us do that.’
Uhl said the team had been working on staying aggressive and attacking its opponents. It was the recipe for success in recent wins, including the big one over Austin.
‘We worked on attacking and being more confident with the ball,’ Uhl said. ‘But when they (South Central) came out with that trap, we forgot to do those things.’
Confidence is growing the team, and the development of younger players was key to Bussabarger’s big game, according to the coach.
‘It is the other girls stepping up and being able to do things,’ Uhl said. ‘It’s so she doesn’t have five people around her all the time.’
Jenna Keinsley, who fouled out in the fourth quarter, finished with eight points, and Smith contributed seven. Bussabarger’s 45 points and 25 rebounds are both school records.
‘We couldn’t do anything with Bussabarger,’ said South Central coach Randall Schoen. ‘I thought at times we did a decent job on her. The only thing we could hope to do was out-score her.’
The key for South Central to stay in the game was picking up the pressure in the second half and knocking down the long ball.
‘We felt like we had to force tempo on them to create turnovers,’ he said. ‘We’ve been working on this 1-3-1 trap, which is new for us, and our girls are learning to rotate in it.’
South Central knocked down 13 3-pointers, including five each from Miller and Sherrard and three from Pease. As a team, the Lady Rebels made just two 2-point field goals.
‘We told them in the locker room, even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, this can be the one that helps us win a sectional,’ Schoen said. ‘It’s a tough loss. Corydon has a good team, and they have proven that over their last few games. We knew it would be a tough place to win a game tonight, and we just came up short.’
Schoen and Uhl agreed they both had their chances in regulation and the first two overtimes to take the win before the third, but it just didn’t happen.
‘Record-wise, we may look like we’re not as good as we were in the past, but we are,’ Schoen added. ‘It will start turning into wins.’
After several tough games, Corydon Central appears headed in the right direction.
‘We are building up,’ Bussabarger said. ‘Each day, coach tells us to keep working harder and get better each day. We don’t have a stacked team, so that is what we have to do, work harder.’
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