Second-half spurt dooms South Central in loss to CAI
George Browning, Sports Writer, [email protected]
The South Central boys’ basketball team picked up in its game Friday against Christian Academy of Indiana where it left off in its 49-43 win over Rock Creek on March 3.
The Rebels trailed by three at the end of the first quarter and were down nine before running out of gas late against the Warriors in a 68-38 season-ending loss.
“In the second half, we just ran into a buzz saw,” said South Central coach Greg Robinson. “You have to give them a lot of credit. They are the best team in this sectional, and they played like it down the stretch in this game.”
If Christian Academy is the best team, the best player for the Warriors is 6-foot-8 Bailey Conrad. He scored 13 of his game-high 20 points in the second-half spurt that saw CAI out-score the Rebels 38-15.
“Conrad is a good player, who can play anywhere on the floor,” Robinson said. “We can get to him, but, as big as he is, he is going to be able to shoot over us. He did that tonight, and he hit a lot of shots tonight. We gave him a couple of good looks, and that’s all he needed. Good players only need one to go down and then they all seem to go down after that.”
South Central did a great job on Conrad defensively in the first half while equaling Christian Academy on the offensive end.
Austin Tyree, who hit five threes against Rock Creek earlier in the week, got the scoring started for South Central with a three. Lucas Stewart followed Tyree’s three with two baskets, one of which came off an offensive put-back, that trimmed CAI’s early lead to one, 8-7, with 3:46 remaining in the first quarter.
The Warriors kept a cushion, thanks to one of two free throws by Conrad after he grabbed an offensive board and a two from TJ Proctor after he also grabbed an offensive board.
Stewart had an answer for South Central when he sank a three, pulling his team to within one, 11-10.
Chris Ballew kept the Warriors in front by three, 13-10, at the end of the first quarter when he scored off an assist by Proctor.
South Central continued to battle. Twos from Jordan Huda and Stewart equaled a three by Conrad and had the Rebels down two, 16-14.
Stewart hit another two after Conrad went to the line and hit just one of two, keeping South Central down one, 17-16.
A turnover by Christian Academy led to an old-fashioned three-point play by Dylan Patterson that actually gave the Rebels a two-point lead, 19-17.
Proctor tied the score with a basket on the Warriors’ end, but South Central quickly went back in front off one of two free throws by Caden Cunningham, who grabbed an offensive board and was fouled going to the basket.
Trailing 20-19, Christian Academy regained the lead for good off a three-pointer by Brady Dunn.
A missed shot and a turnover led to two more baskets by the Warriors that sparked an 11-1 run to end the first half with Christian Academy up nine, 30-21.
The spurt continued into the second half and, before another three by Tyree, Christian Academy had scored 17 unanswered points that had the Warriors cruising 36-24.
Once Christian Academy got a double-digit lead, South Central was forced to pick up the pace and that led to quick shots and more offensive opportunities for the Warriors.
“We didn’t want to play fast,” Robinson said. “We told the kids we had a slim margin of error in the second half because of the hole we were in. We had to speed up, and that’s not going to work for us when we are playing a team as good and as athletic as they are.”
Stewart was the only Rebel to finish the game in double figures. He had 11 points, and Tyree added nine.
South Central finished with a 9-16 record, bringing an end to the high school careers of six players: Tyree, Patterson, Cunningham, Jordan Huda, Christian Gonzalez and Ryan Steen.
“This season, at times, was frustrating,” Robinson said. “We’ve been through four years together with these guys, and they are a great group of kids and I enjoyed coaching all of them. They play hard and always continue to play hard even when things are stacked against them. As a coach, you can’t ask for more than that.
“Hopefully, their work ethic gets passed down to our younger players and they will have that same kind of desire to play as hard as they can,” the coach said.
Christian Academy followed the win over South Central with a win over Lanesville, 44-42, in the sectional championship and will play Northeast Dubois at noon in Saturday’s regional contest.
South Central 10 11 10 7 – 38
Christian Academy 13 17 22 16 – 68
South Central (9-16) – Lucas Stewart 11, Austin Tyree 9, Dylan Patterson 6, Jordan Huda 4, Caden Cunningham 3, Clay Thomas 3, Maddox Baker 2.
Christian Academy (17-7) – Bailey Conrad 20, Caleb Doss 11, TJ Proctor 11, Ethan Carrier 7, Chris Ballew 6, Nick Conrad 6, Brady Dunn 5, Josh Hahn 2.
3-point goals – South Central 4 (Tyree 3, Stewart 1); Christian Academy 8 (Conrad 4, Carrier 2, Doss 1, Dunn 1).