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Highlanders crush Panthers

Highlanders crush Panthers
Highlanders crush Panthers
Corydon Central’s Tyler Fessel focuses on a drive to the basket during the second half of the Panthers’ loss to Floyd Central. Photo by Wade Bell
Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The Corydon Central boys’ basketball team had two good quarters Friday night against the visiting Floyd Central Highlanders. The Highlanders, however, had two explosive quarters in the middle of the game and skinned the Panthers in a 71-33 win.

“Overall, I was pretty happy, especially coming off a three-week layoff,” said Floyd Central coach Todd Sturgeon. “It was good to get the band together. This is the first game where we’ve had our team together. It’s the first time that who we’ve felt would be our five starters have played together this year. A lot of different guys did some good things.”

“I thought we competed with them really well that first quarter, which is great to see,” said Corydon Central coach Joseph Hinton. “Honestly, in that first quarter, we looked like the ball club we’re supposed to be. It’s just now putting it together. We’re finding games where we’re doing it for a quarter and we’re doing it for a half, we’re doing it for three quarters, but we still haven’t put together a full game yet.”

The first quarter was a rumble between the two teams, but the Highlanders got the upper hand with a pair of three-balls by Cole Harritt and Max Tripure early to outscore the Panthers 8-2. Tyler Fessel drove the lane for two, and Jagger Holton put in a deuce-and-one to close the gap to one. The two teams exchanged the next four baskets, and the period ended with Floyd Central leading 13-11.

Fessel went inside again to score the first two points of the second quarter to tie the game at 13. At that point, however, things went downhill for the Panthers. The Highlanders scored the next nine points. Anthony Martin finally scored in the lane to stop that run, but Floyd Central finished out the half with 13 unanswered points and the Highlanders went to the locker room with a 33-15 lead.

“They had tried to take Jake (Heidbreder) out of the game and force some other guys to make some shots,” said Sturgeon. “Fortunately, Max Tripure and Cole Harritt, those guys in particular early and later in the game some other guys knocked in some shots as well. That makes a big difference in our team with those two guys because then you’ve got two shooters that you’ve got to worry about with Jake, and that’s significantly harder than just one other shooter.”

Corydon Central managed only five shots against the Highlanders in the second quarter with the Panthers hitting two of those while Floyd Central connected on 6 of 12 shots.

“They have a lot of size,” Hinton said of the Highlanders. “They have (Caleb) Washington at 6-4, 6-5. Heidbreder is about 6-3, 6-4. (Wesley) Celichowski, he’s about 6-11. They have a lot of athletic guys and shooters with that size.”

“We went with that diamond-and-one (on Heidbreder), and it really worked there for a while,” he said. “Once they hit a couple of shots, instead of sticking with the game plan, we let it get to us and we weren’t able to fight through the adversity that happened. So, then we opened up and were missing some block-outs and giving them some easy baskets. That’s when the floodgates really opened up.”

That flood continued into the third period where the Highlanders outscored the Panthers 24-5. Corydon Central was 2 of 11 from the field in the period, while Floyd Central connected on 10 of 17 shots. The Panthers had a much better fourth quarter, but by then the damage was much too complete.

“Once we got going, I think we were up two at the end of the first quarter, but the second and third quarters we outscored them by 35 those two quarters,” said Sturgeon. “So, we played well there. We knocked in shots. We were defending pretty well there during that time. The first quarter we gave up some easy baskets.”

“They came out and they hit some shots on us, and we got into a panic mode instead of staying solid and staying disciplined,” Hinton said. “We started throwing up some bad shots and trying to create off the dribble. That’s not how we got to that position. We got to that position through passing and creating movement and then driving off of the movement, which was how we were getting to the middle so easily on them.

“We just have to be able to go up off two feet, and we were going off one foot. It was just the little things. I thought the third quarter just really killed us because they came out full steam ahead and we just weren’t ready for it. We kind of got slapped in the face and didn’t know how to react.”

Heidbreder led the Highlanders with 14 points for the night, and Tripure and Harritt followed with 11 each. Floyd Central connected on 26 of 49 shots from the field (53%) and 3 of 4 free throws. The Highlanders finished with 13 turnovers for the game.

“Seven guys played the first three quarters,” Sturgeon said. “We had a rotation there with three bigs playing the two inside spots and then four guards playing the three perimeter spots. … these guys haven’t played together; we’re trying to get a rotation together. Usually by this time we’d have that done or at least starting to work on an idea of what it was going to be.”

“Kyle Poates and Wesley Celichowski did a fantastic job, came in there and in the second quarter when we started to get some breathing room,” he said. “They were the ones that were in the game during the stretch. We felt like at Bloomington South and our last game we were just out of whack and needed to try to solidify a few things. Some of that was guys knowing their roles and when they’re getting in the game and getting some consistent playing time.”

Fessel led the Panthers with 10 for the night. Corydon Central put in 14 of 36 field goals (39%) and 2 of 6 from the charity stripe. The Panthers had 20 turnovers.

“I think once we can put a full game together we’re going to be scary to play against,” Hinton said. “These guys have been working hard. We’ve been trying to educate them more about basketball knowledge and what they need to do on the court. It just takes time with some of them.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys playing. We’ve got some older guys where this is a new system and just started last year for them,” he said. “So, it’s just teaching them and trying to be as positive as we can to do what we need to do to win. I think we’re showing good spurts of it. We’ve just got to put it together.”

Floyd Central                13   20   24   14 – 71

Corydon Central           11     4     5   13 – 33

Floyd Central (4-2) – Heidbreder 14, Harritt 11, Tripure 11, Washington 8,  Moore 7, Bouch 6, Celichowski 4, Ali 3, Hoffman 3, Poates 2, Woodruff 2.

Corydon Central (2-7) – Fessel 10, Martin 7, Holton 5, Kaiser 5, Weber 5, Ables 1.

3-point goals – Floyd Central 12 (Harritt 3, Tripure 3, Bouch 2, Heidbreder 2, Ali 1, Hoffman 1); Corydon Central 3 (Kaiser 1, Martin 1, Weber 1).