Corydon cuts down pesky nets
The necessities were packed ‘ basketball shoes, jerseys, warm-ups ‘ all needed for the Class 3A Scottsburg Sectional final on Saturday.
One item they should have packed ‘ Scissors!
Tied at 13 after the first quarter against host Scottsburg, Corydon Central went on to control the remainder of the game, rolling to a 58-43 victory and the championship.
Postgame, plenty of laughs bounced off teammates and supporters adorned in black and gold while cutting down the nets with a pair of dull blades. Those problems were about the only ones the Lady Panthers faced on the night.
‘We’ve always wanted to get to this point together, and we did it,’ said Corydon Central senior forward Savannah Eschbacher.
Some teams go through a roller coaster of seasons, having ups and downs. Since the turn of the calendar year, Corydon Central has been on an uphill climb now descending on a thrilling journey. The winning performance against Scottsburg was the team’s 11th win in a row.
‘We’re playing as a team,’ said senior Kayla Uhl. ‘The beginning of the year we were fighting a little bit, but now we are playing as team. It’s working.’
Teamwork is not only noticeable on the floor but also behind the doors at each practice.
‘We’ve worked a lot harder in practice,’ said Symphony LeJeune, a senior who had eight points in the final. ‘Coach (Michael) Uhl has pushed us that we need to be a team on the floor.’
‘We really changed things on how we practice,’ said the Lady Panthers coach. ‘We’ve done a lot of finishing drills around the rim to improve there, spending 15 minutes a day shooting lay-ups with someone on us. Those two, four or six points here or there can make a big difference.’
Playing at Scottsburg is no easy task. Breaking the ice was something Uhl wanted to make sure the Lady Panthers did quickly. It happened.
Kayla Uhl nailed a 3-pointer on the opening possession. Although she was answered later by a triple from Ashley Elliot, Uhl wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger again. She swished another long ball.
‘It was important not playing behind,’ coach Uhl said. ‘We hit a couple shots early, with Kayla hitting two 3s to break the ice. That’s been one of our problems ‘ getting that first bucket so we can play a little bit.’
Scottsburg would lead in the first half on free throws by Katie Wampler, 10-8. Wampler would spend much of the game in foul trouble and was held to five points.
Corydon Central would reclaim the edge for good when Taylor Frederick took an offensive rebound and put it back while drawing a foul.
Over the course of the next two quarters, Corydon Central’s relentless defensive pressure caused issues for Scottsburg. The Warriorettes were held to five points in the second and third frames.
Tied at 13, Aly Chambers nailed a triple to start the second quarter. Five points from Marie Rothrock and a trey from Rachel Deaton gave the visitors a 27-18 halftime lead.
Corydon Central shot 47 percent in the opening half, including making four of eight 3-pointers.
‘There weren’t any adjustments we made,’ coach Uhl said. ‘We wanted to find Elliot and Smith; that was the key.’
The string of solid play continued in the second half. Frederick scored after Chambers pulled down a rebound and quickly made her way up the floor to dish the assist.
Later in the quarter, a steal by Rothrock created a lay-up for Kayla Uhl to finish. It gave the Lady Panthers a sizable 37-20 lead.
‘Coach tells us to pressure more and more. We’ve worked together and we’re not afraid to do it,’ LeJeune said of the defense against Scottsburg.
Scottsburg started the fourth quarter with four consecutive points to make it a 10-point game. Rothrock’s jumper kept the Warriors at bay, keeping the margin above 10, which the Lady Panthers would hold the rest of the way.
‘We withstood them coming after us defensively a little bit,’ coach Uhl said.
By that point, it was all about playing defense and watching the clock tick ever so slowly.
‘It felt like the fourth quarter took forever,’ Kayla Uhl said. ‘I remember seeing 6:19 (on the clock) and told the girls just six more minutes. Then, I look up and it was only 5:45. It took forever, but we kept playing hard.’
Corydon Central went to the line 38 times, making 27. Rothrock paced the Lady Panthers in scoring with 16 points, making 9 of 10 from the charity stripe. She also had eight rebounds.
Frederick and Uhl had 11 points apiece. LeJeune scored all eight of her points at the foul line. Eschbacher contributed six boards.
When coach Uhl pulled the five on the floor inside the final minute, the smiles finally showed and hugs filled the sideline.
‘I’m so pumped,’ LeJeune said. ‘I’m just ready for regional. As a team, we’re ready to go play.’
The Lady Panthers (19-5) advance to the Brownstown Central Regional Saturday where they will face Evansville Bosse (18-6) at 10:30 a.m Saturday.
‘It feels great,’ Eschbacher said. ‘We’ve never won a sectional as a group. This was a goal, and it feels great.’
Eschbacher is joined in the senior class by Uhl, Deaton and LeJeune.
‘It’s a great group of seniors,’ coach Uhl said. ‘If every one of our seniors walked out the door like those four seniors, what a phenomenal world we’d live in. They are very special people. They are better people than they are basketball players.’
Elliot led Scottsburg as the only player in double figures with 19. Kelsey Smith and Taylor Means had eight each.
Outside of playing defense, the Lady Panthers have come together as a team, showing balance within the lineup. Among the eight-person rotation, each girl knows her role.
‘It’s been like that all year,’ coach Uhl said. ‘Someone said we won (versus Brownstown) with Marie not playing the first half (because of foul problems). But we expect that can happen. We have an eight-man rotation, and they’re a solid eight. I tell them I don’t expect them to do great things, I expect you to do what you’re supposed to do. We’ve talked since day one to go out and play and play, don’t worry about doing great things.’
Winning at Scottsburg was also special, since the Warriorettes won the regular season meeting 43-41.
‘When I found out sectional was here, I was so mad,’ Kayla Uhl, Michael’s daughter, said. ‘I wanted to play them in the sectional final, when everyone else wanted to play them first. It’s nice to cut down the nets.’
The nets at Scottsburg came down and home to Corydon, regardless of the lackluster performance of the scissors.