Tommy gun buries NH
Can two meetings nearly repeat themselves in the same season?
Flashing back to the Dec. 12 meeting between rivals Corydon Central and North Harrison, a 15-0 start by the Panthers led to a 65-41 victory.
Fast forwarding to last Wednesday’s Class 3A North Harrison Sectional opener, it was eerily similar. Corydon Central jumped out 16-2, paving the way to a 64-43 decision.
‘We need good starts,’ No. 7-ranked Corydon Central coach Jamie Kolkmeier said. ‘We’re not a very good team playing behind, but who is?’
Misses didn’t happen often for the Panthers in the opening quarter. Tommy Wiseman had the hot hand and his Panthers’ teammates knew to keep feeding him.
He scored on a putback and then again in the lane, prompting a 6-0 start.
Then came long-range Tommy. Back-to-back 3-pointers by the senior launched the Panthers to a 12-2 start, only interrupted by an Austin Nolot jumper for the Cougars.
‘Tommy came out on fire tonight and had a great first quarter,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘He came ready to play and helped get that big lead for us.’
Attacking the basket resulted in four straight free throws, split two each among Brayden Lander and Grant Robinson, for Corydon Central to reach the 16-4 start.
To interrupt, Joseph Hinton scored a field goal for North Harrison, but it wasn’t much longer before the Panthers hit from beyond the arc again. Tommy Wiseman sank another with a fist pump toward the Avenger-theme Corydon Central student section. Another triple, this time by Grant Robinson, fell, allowing the Panthers to lead 22-4 before North Harrison’s Cory Smith ended the frame with a trey.
In all, the Panthers sank four 3-pointers, eventually hitting four of seven for the game.
‘Our strategy, whether it was good or bad, was to try and take (Bronson) Kessinger out of the game early,’ North Harrison coach Greg Walters said. ‘We held him to two points in the first half. They just got hot from the 3-point line.’
Walters said it was a roll of the dice to protect the paint, defending the 6-foot-7 Kessinger.
‘We weren’t trying to give them open looks, but we were trying to give big help and run out on shooters,’ he said. ‘They got the ball moved well and made some big time shots. They are a really good team.’
Play evened in the second quarter, with the Panthers outscoring their foes 10-9 to double up North Harrison 32-16 at the half. Smith had five of his 10 points in the frame. For Corydon Central, Quinton Coffman, Mitchell Frederick and Kessinger scored buckets while Lander had two field goals.
‘Offensively, I thought we went up and down,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘We were good for a while, then we weren’t very good. We tried to make some hard plays.’
It was on the defensive end that the Panthers excelled, holding North Harrison to single digits in each of the first two quarters.
‘They live and die at that 3-point line sometimes,’ Kolkmeier said of North Harrison. ‘They can turn a 10- or 12-point game around in a minute or two. We knew we had to maintain focus. I thought our defense was pretty good, especially in the first half.’
Corydon Central began the second half with four points from Lander, who would eventually stuff the stat sheet with 15 points, six assists and four rebounds.
When the Panthers’ lead grew to 18, North Harrison made one of two charges back behind Nolot. He had four straight points to go along with a Chandler Jenkins make to bring North Harrison within 12, 36-24.
Responding, Kessinger converted a 3-point play along with another field goal. An 11-4 spurt by the Panthers gave them a 47-28 edge heading into the fourth.
Nolot and company didn’t go quietly. A 10-2 North Harrison start to the fourth, backed by six points from Nolot, brought the Cougars within 11, 49-38, with 4:20 to play.
‘Our guys have a lot of pride and wanted to fight, claw and scratch to the very end,’ Walters said. ‘I thought we gave it our best effort. Maybe if they wouldn’t have gotten hot at the start there, we would have been able to make it a better game.’
‘They kept fighting back,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘Austin (Nolot) hit a couple hard shots for them and got hot for a few minutes. He did that to us in the first game when we got up on them. He became tough to guard.’
The final four minutes, however, was all Panthers. Lander had a 3-point play to start nine unanswered points to help move Corydon Central to 19-3.
Tommy Wiseman led the way in scoring with 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting to go with seven rebounds. To go with Lander’s 15, Kessinger finished with nine points and 12 rebounds while Robinson and Frederick had eight points apiece.
‘Brayden had a nice game,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘Grant Robinson gave us some great minutes, having a career-high eight points. That’s a big thing, him getting a couple, especially when Mitchell got two fouls in the first half.’
Nolot paced the Cougars in the scoring column, making 8 of 16 shots for 16 points. Smith closed with 10 points, two assists and a pair of steals. Also reaching double-figure scoring was Jenkins with 10 points; he also had eight rebounds.
‘The outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but we gave our very best effort and I’m proud of our kids,’ Walters said.
The Cougars graduate a big senior group ‘ Joseph Hinton, Dylan Knopp, Dayton Van Uitert, Cameron Mink, Smith and Nolot ‘ who finished the season 9-12. They came up short in chasing the program’s first sectional title since 1996.
‘It was one of those season we were so close to doing something really good and we never could get over that hump for whatever reason,’ Walters said.
Of the seniors, Smith graduates among the program’s top career scorers, reaching more than 1,300 points. Nolot and Hinton have been regulars in the lineup the past two seasons.
‘Those three perimeter guys played a lot of games for them in their careers,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘They fought to make their program to get back to a much better level than when they started. Those kids play hard and worked a ton on their shooting and skill level.’
The last three seasons the Cougars have tallied 34 wins, a big improvement from the three years prior to that, winning 13.
‘It was a weird season. We had some guys move in late and didn’t get to play this summer,’ Walters said. ‘One of our starters (Jenkins), that was some of the first basketball he had played in a year. We were all trying to fit in. As soon as we got a bit of a run going, the ball didn’t bounce our way a few times. Credit to the kids, they always came back and worked hard. I’m proud of that.’
Corydon Central advanced in the tournament to face Silver Creek, which rallied to defeat Madison, 55-51.
Credit from Kolkmeier went to the work on the defensive end to reach out to cover North Harrison’s shooters. North Harrison was 2 of 17 from beyond the arc and shot 34 percent (18 of 53) from the field.
‘We tried to do a good job of cleaning up our defense and making sure to contest every shot and be in position,’ he said. ‘For the most part, we forced them to shoot hard shots … We did a nice job getting out on Cory for the most part. He got a couple of open looks that didn’t go down.’
Corydon Central 22 10 15 17 ‘ 64
North Harrison 7 9 12 15 ‘ 43
Corydon Central (19-3) ‘ To. Wiseman 18, Lander 15, Kessinger 9, Robinson 8, Frederick 8, Simler 4, Ti. Wiseman 2, Coffman 2.
North Harrison (9-12) ‘ Nolot 16, Smith 10, Jenkins 10, Hinton 2, Mink 2, Nowak 2, Knopp 1.
3-point goals ‘ Corydon Central 4 (To. Wiseman 3, Robinson); North Harrison 2 (Smith 2).