Silver Creek’s big fourth sinks Cougars in sectional
Mike Arnold, Contributing Writer
Defending Class 3A state champion Silver Creek used a 15-1 fourth-quarter run to seize control and defeat North Harrison 69-50 in semi-final play of the boys’ basketball Sectional 30 Friday at Corydon Central.
The Dragons (25-2) bested Charlestown 88-51 in opening-round action last Wednesday, while the Cougars (18-6) turned back their rival and host Corydon Central Panthers, 56-43. (Silver Creek went on to win the sectional championship Saturday, 70-53, over Madison and will face Heritage Hills at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Washington Regional).
Silver Creek built a 5-0 advantage before the Cougars recovered, eventually pulling to 7-6, after a Braden Jenkins bucket at the 4:12 mark. The Dragons then hit back-to-back three-pointers (Trey Kaufman and Holden Groher) around a Logan McIntire basket, which gave them a 13-8 advantage. Sawyer Wetzel connected on a Cougars’ free throw, and Kaufman scored a field goal, making it 15-9, before North Harrison finished the period on a 7-0 run to claim a 16-15 lead. The burst to end the period was keyed by a basket and three by McIntire and a hoop by Wetzel.
The Cougars’ control of the game was short as Silver Creek heated up in the second, getting three straight baskets and a three-pointer, part of a 9-0 run, to claim a 24-16 advantage with 4:49 remaining in the half. North Harrison junior Langdon Hatton got a free throw and basket on consecutive possessions, but Silver Creek answered with a three by Kooper Jacobi and a basket by Kaufman to push its lead to double figures, 29-19, at the 1:57 mark in the period. North Harrison was efficient to close the half, getting field goals from McIntire, Jenkins and Riley Schneider, to make it 31-25 at the break.
North Harrison kept it close during the third period as well and was successful in keeping Kaufman, an NCAA Division 1 prospect, who led all scorers with 23, out of the scoring column during the period. McIntire was also instrumental for the Cougars during that stretch by drilling two three-pointers. However, where Kaufman went quiet, Jacobi, also a D-1 hopeful, provided some fireworks with six of his team’s 10 points in the period, including two dunks. The second slam helped the Dragons open a 39-31 lead with 2:35 to play in the third period.
North Harrison continued to battle as Hatton connected on a jumper on the next possession. Coming away from a Dragons’ timeout, Kaufman scored again. Following another Wetzel basket for NH, Silver Creek claimed a 41-35 cushion with one quarter to play.
The Dragons caught fire in the final quarter, outscoring North Harrison 28-15, ignited by a Branden Northern basket and Jacobi foul shot. Kaufman next converted a three-point play to give Silver Creek its largest lead of the game, 47-35. Hatton notched a free throw, but Silver Creek stomped the gas pedal and reeled off nine straight to take a 20-point lead, 56-36, halfway through the fourth period.
North Harrison coach Lou Lefevre said Silver Creek’s defensive pressure made things difficult for his team later in the game, leading to some turnovers the Dragons converted into easy transition baskets.
“They just put man-on-man pressure,” Lefevre said. “That’s what won them the game.”
North Harrison did score 12 of its remaining 14 points from behind the arc as freshman Kaleb Kellems knocked down three triples, but it was too little, too late for the Cougars. McIntire added one more from distance (he hit four threes in the game) along with another basket to cap his 22-point night, which was tops for the Cougars and made him North Harrison’s only double-figure scorer. Kaufman scored nine of his points in the final period.
Lefevre said Silver Creek’s tight defense left several crucial possessions where his team wasn’t able to get a good shot, which made it more difficult for it to run its offense.
“That deflates a team,” he added. “That’s what really turned the game around.”
There were many improvements during the course of his first season as Cougars coach, Lefevre said. He added they cut turnovers considerably in the second half of the year, which allowed them to beat some quality teams because they weren’t as susceptible to defensive pressure. He said he considered the 18-win season a successful one, where several younger players got chances to contribute.
“It was a wonderful season to watch them grow, “ he added.
The outlook for next year is also bright, as Jenkins was the only senior on the roster.
“Our job is to get better,” he said. “(Next year) maybe it will go differently.”
In addition to McIntire’s output, Kellems added nine for North Harrison and Hatton pitched in eight. The Cougars were 20 for 50 on field goals (40%), 13 of 39 (33%) from the floor and seven of 11 from beyond the arc (64%). North Harrison was three of six from the line and pulled down 20 rebounds with Hatton leading his team with six boards.
Silver Creek was 26 of 46 (57%) on total field goals. That included 21 of 35 (60%) from the floor and five of 11 (45%) on threes. The Dragons knocked down 12 of 15 from the line (80%) and corralled 17 rebounds with Kaufman claiming 10 to go along with his 23 points for a double-double.
North Harrison 16 9 10 15 – 50
Silver Creek 15 16 10 28 – 69
North Harrison (18-6) – McIntire 22, Kellems 9, Hatton 8, Wetzel 5, Jenkins 4, Schneider 2.
Silver Creek (24-2) – Kaufman 23, Jacobi 17, Northern 17, Groher 6, Hinton 6.
3-pointers – North Harrison 7 (McIntire 4, Kellems 3); Silver Creek 5 (Groher 2, Kaufman 2, Jacobi 1).