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Lady Panthers win 2 at home

Lady Panthers win 2 at home Lady Panthers win 2 at home
Brian Smith, Contributing Writer

A two-game win streak for the Corydon Central girls’ basketball team created some holiday cheer before Christmas.

Logging victories over Scottsburg (62-57) on Dec. 19 then backing it up with a 59-40 score over Perry Central on Dec. 22, the Lady Panthers showed marked improvements on both ends of the court.

“The Scottsburg was a fun game to watch (our team) because they moved the basketball around so well,” said Corydon Central coach Josh Conrad. “We weren’t playing bad early on (in the season), but that game showed what we can do. This team, so far, has been able to score quite a bit. We still need to get better on the defensive end to get going by the end of January.”

Playing at home versus Perry Central, the Lady Panthers were without top scorer Ava Weber but managed to continue their offensive success.

“Offensively, Jessica Fulk and Grace Erwin did a nice job taking over the scoring roles,” said Conrad. “They both let the game come to them and didn’t force things. That was the key for all the other girls too because they were playing confident.”

With a hot start, Perry Central led the entire opening quarter, thanks to triples by Emily Parker and Bree Noland. Quality looks were there for the host Corydon Central Lady Panthers although they found themselves down 12-7.

Defense led to offense in the second quarter, which vaulted Corydon Central ahead. A Bailey Orme steal led to a lay-in by Fulk. Orme later skipped a pass to Erwin who buried a long ball from the wing, leveling the score at 13-all.

After Perry Central retook the lead at 17-14, Corydon Central ripped off a 12-2 run to lead 26-19 at the break. Erwin swished a triple, then free throws were added by a host of Lady Panthers. The quarter closed with Fulk netting a buzzer-beater jumper from the elbow.

Fulk would net a game-high 20 points, while Erwin pumped in 14.

“The big thing is, our defense usually creates offense for us. Perry did a good job breaking our press, getting the ball up the court then attacking the basket,” said Conrad. “We played without Ava, who we found out was quarantined that day at 2. We didn’t really cover them really well early. We wanted to stay in front of them and get hands on passes. They used their height a little better. When we backed off the pressure, we were able to contain them in the half court. Then we were able to get some turnovers later on in the game.”

One area Conrad and the coaching staff have seen marked improvement in recent outings is the passing game. It was evident in the third quarter as Fulk found Kayla Willoughby for a deuce. Inside-out game led to an Erwin trey as well.

“I see they’ve gotten better at moving the basketball, passing and talking to each other,” said Conrad. “They are really gelling together as we go. The last week and a half have been really good because we’ve seen the ball movement come around.”

Willoughby was busy on the boards all night, including netting a put-back.

“Kayla had 14 rebounds, including nine defensive rebounds,” said Conrad. “She has done that in three games this year where she’s almost had double-digit or had double-digit rebounds, and I’m not sure she realizes those numbers. She’s just been really good on the defensive glass this year.”

Perry Central closed the gap to 10 points after trailing by 14 at one point. Going 10 of 14 at the line in the final 3:21 helped Corydon Central put a postage stamp on its seventh win of the season.

There is a push to continue to get better. On the defensive end, the Lady Panthers want to sharpen their approach to pressuring the ball.

“We don’t want teams to make one pass and get a shot,” Conrad said.

Being without Weber created a challenge, but the Lady Panthers have battled through COVID-19 protocols and caution throughout the season.

“We only have 15 kids to begin with, but we’ve only had one practice where we had all 15 kids at the same time,” said Conrad. “That was the first practice of the season. We had one or two kids out each time then a week where we had six out and we didn’t get to play any games. You have to be happy where you are at because we’ve had all these obstacles and played some good teams. I feel like this a group that constantly gets better.”

Perry Central                 12     7   12     9 – 40

Corydon Central             7   19   17   16 – 59

Perry Central (3-6) – Noland 12, Elmer 9, Smith 6, Hurtado 4, Hemmings 3, Parker 3, Cunningham 2, Hall 1.

Corydon Central (7-4) – Fulk 20, Erwin 14, Cantrell 8, Orme 8, Willoughby 6, Cannon 2, Oberholtzer 1.

3-point goals – Perry Central 4 (Parker 2, Hemmings 1, Noland 1); Corydon Central 3 (Erwin 3).