Highlanders contain visiting Panthers
Wade Bell, Clarion News
Floyd Central Highlanders’ coach Todd Sturgeon told his team before their game against Corydon Central that the Panthers would not be an easy opponent to take down. For three quarters, that’s how it was until the Highlanders broke away late in the game for a 67-43 win.
“I told our team before the game that it would be the game where we’ve just got to try to inch by inch gradually put the game away,” said Sturgeon. “This was not going to be a game where we were going to knock them out of the box in the first quarter. They fight and battle and they’ve got some shooters and spread it out, and I just knew it would be a game that they would take their time and keep it close. Us coming off of that (Ballard) game (loss) last night that we might have got our cage rattled a little bit.”
“It’s a learning experience,” said Corydon Central coach Joseph Hinton. “I thought we fought hard through the adversity. Not a lot of things went our way, and I thought our guys just kept fighting through it. That’s something we’ve got to get used to because we’re not going to have great nights all the time. To take away from it, we played really, really well for three quarters.”
The Panthers kept it close early with Corydon Central down just two, 10-8, midway through the period. Seth Burks and Jake Heidbreder then fired in back-to-back three balls that allowed the Highlanders to gap the Panthers by eight, the difference at the end of the period.
Corydon Central opened the second quarter with a 9-2 burst to close the gap to two, 20-18. Floyd Central countered with five from Grant Gohmann and Heidbreder, but Alton Adams got two of those back at the charity stripe. The Highlanders finished out the half with a 6-3 run and took a 31-23 advantage to the locker room at the break.
“We wanted to focus on Heidbreder but, when you’re that good, it’s tough to stop them from getting everything,” Hinton said. “I thought we tried to limit him the best we could. We kind of let him get loose a little bit. We knew we could shut down Gohmann a little bit easier, so sometimes you’ve got to pick your poison and tonight our poison was Gohmann. I thought we did a good job on him.”
“I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing what they decided was, if we can clog things up and not make it easy for them to throw inside,” Sturgeon said. “Really, the game, I thought, we would just have to keep digging and fighting. I knew they wouldn’t quit and give up, so they kept battling. And, it was a good, tough game for us.”
Cole Harritt drilled a three to start an 8-3 burst at the beginning of the third, putting the Floyd Central advantage in double figures, 39-26. From there through the rest of the period, the two teams traded paint and Floyd Central had a 47-34 lead with one quarter left.
The Highlanders failed to gain any ground early in the final period, but then they broke Corydon Central’s back with a 16-3 run. The Panthers only hit one of their last nine shots of the game, and the Highlanders went on for the 67-43 win.
“I thought we fought and competed very hard against a top 10 4-A team tonight,” said Hinton. “I thought we put all of our effort into it. Some shots didn’t go in that were open. They went in and out, and sometimes it’s the way the cookie crumbles. But, I thought the effort was there and I was proud of the guys.”
Sturgeon said he was glad to see his team get back on track following a tough loss at Louisville Ballard the night before.
“I thought our guys came out and had some energy, other than we were careless with the ball a few times, more turnovers than I would have liked to have seen,” Sturgeon said. “(Corydon Central) had a good game plan and kept themselves in the game, and their kids were playing hard and battling. They’ve done a really good job, that staff, and made some good progress with the team. Their JV team played well, and it looks like they’ve got things going in a good direction.”
Heidbreder led the Highlanders with 21 on the night, and Gohmann followed with 13. Caleb Washington came off the bench for 12 for the Highlanders, who were 25 of 53 from the field (47%) and 10 of 17 from the free-throw line. Floyd Central finished with just seven turnovers.
“Jake Heidbreder is pretty good,” Sturgeon said. “Grant Gohmann, when he gets within five feet of the basket, is pretty good, too. Beyond that, when they got back within two in the second quarter, Ben Purvis and Brady Moore came in there and really got after them and got defensive pressure, and we were getting some steals and got that thing from two to 10 during the stretch there from four minutes left to the end of the half. I thought that was a key part that let us go up eight at halftime and not be uptight.”
“We found Heidbreder a little bit,” said Hinton. “We let him go a couple of times. I thought we shut Gohmann down very well in the first half, which is their second best player. I thought we did a good job on the other players. A couple of kids that don’t normally hit shots hit some shots tonight. That will happen in games where people are hitting shots. If you’re feeling good, everybody can hit a shot.”
Koleton Kaiser led the Panthers with 10 points. Corydon Central put up 48 shots from the field and connected on 14 (29%). The Panthers put in 7 of 10 from the charity stripe and finished with six turnovers.
“I thought, defensively, we did a decent job until we got loose and lackadaisical in spots,” Hinton said. “We let them go on a couple of runs here and there that we had to stop. We really didn’t stop those runs. We have to limit those runs to play good. But, tonight I was proud of our effort and how we played against a top 10 4-A team.”
The Highlanders move on to meet Jeffersonville on Friday night at home then travel to North Harrison on Saturday.
“Jeff is going to be an entirely different kind of game than this,” Sturgeon said. “We’ve just got to get better on our individual defense. Our team defense is pretty good where we can support and help and all that. When teams are making shots and spread us out, because we can’t help, we’ve got to guard individually. We’re not as good as we need to be. In fairness, a lot of teams aren’t great with that. We’ve got to be a better defensive team than what we are right now if we’re going to beat Jeff or whoever is on the road, the good teams.”
Corydon Central 10 13 11 9 – 43
Floyd Central 18 13 16 20 – 67
Corydon Central (5-6) – Kaiser 10, Fessel 8, Adams 7, Holton 6, Martin 6, Weber 4, Eve 2.
Floyd Central (8-2) – Heidbreder 21, Gohmann 13, Washington 12, Moore 7, Purvis 5, Burks 3, Harritt 3, Poates 2, Tripure 1.
3-pointers – Corydon Central 9 (Kaiser 3, Adams 2, Fessel 2, Holton 2); Floyd Central 5 (Heidbreder 3, Burks 1, Gohmann 1).