‘Weird’ season takes toll on Rebels
Brian Smith, Contributing Writer
The Indiana High School Athletic Association schedule put the first official boys’ basketball game date as Nov. 23. Seven weeks later, South Central was able to don white uniforms with red trim and run on the home floor behind the Rebels’ cheerleaders last Tuesday. Even then, there was not as much fanfare with a sparse student section made up of only cheerleaders and a limited ticketed crowd due to COVID-19 regulations.
Christian Academy of Indiana spoiled the opener, taking a hot 9-0 start and rode it to a convincing 66-41 victory over South Central.
It is no ordinary season, just ask South Central. It was nearly a month between games as the Rebels had a gap between Dec. 12 and Jan. 8 without seeing an opponent. As South Central comes back from a series of COVID-19 quarantines, it was the third game in five days on Jan. 12 when they hosted defending Class 1A sectional champion Christian Academy of Indiana.
“It was weird finally playing at home, but there are so many things about this year that are weird,” said South Central coach Greg Robinson. “At this point, we should be 10-plus games, and we are still trying to find a unit.”
Playing three straight games, Robinson thought he found a good grouping after a tough loss at Mitchell, but an injury to senior guard Wesley Wilson held him out of action against CAI.
“When I thought I had a unit, we have a kid (Wesley Wilson) hurt,” said Robinson. “He’s a kid that has been playing better than anybody we have to this point.”
During the first three minutes, CAI’s tandem of Caleb Doss and Brady Dunn proved they’d be a challenge. Dunn opened the game with a banked triple then closed a 9-0 CAI run with a put-back. Doss sandwiched transition scores in between. By game’s end, they combined for 46 points, 26 for Dunn and 20 for Doss.
“I told our kids that (Doss) and (Dunn) were the definition of old-school street ball the way they play,” said Robinson. “They were hitting pull-up jump shots. There was no 3-point line back in the day, so that was where you went to get shots. They certainly did that.”
Breaking the drought for South Central was Clay Thomas scoring off a lob-entry pass from Maddox Baker. CAI kept the scoring coming, pushing the lead to 12. To close the quarter, South Central got a 3-pointer from Lucas Stewart to make the score 18-9.
Stewart finished with 20 points and nine boards.
Much of the first-quarter hiccups revolved around five South Central turnovers. Taking better care of the ball resulted in a solid stretch of play early in the second quarter. Long balls by Jack Schmelz and Stewart were part of an 8-2 run to bring the Rebels within five, 22-17.
Following a CAI time out to regroup, the visitors ran off a 14-4 outburst to lead 36-21 lead at half. Nate Whitten and Doss netted 3-pointers in that span.
“We had little spurts during the game where we had the energy we need to be successful,” said Robinson. “Our confidence level is low right now. When we started down 9-0, we didn’t shoot with as much confidence and, honestly, we didn’t shoot the ball as bad as it seemed. It seemed like we didn’t shoot well because tonight (CAI) didn’t miss many.”
South Central freshman Christian Kiper had a strong third quarter, scoring six of his 11 points. The Rebels made 16 of 39 (41%) field-goal attempts.
“They are going to have to be believe like I believe that we are a better team than we showed tonight,” said Robinson. “We found a good rotation against Mitchell, where we played pretty well. You lose Wesley, it’s hard to replace his speed and leadership. We hope he will be back soon.”
The Rebels are slated to host Crothersville on Friday then travel to Rock Creek Community Academy on Monday.
Christian Academy 18 18 16 14 – 66
South Central 9 12 9 11 – 41
Christian Academy (5-4) – Dunn 26, Doss 20, Morgan 10, Roy 7, Whitten 3.
South Central (0-6) – Stewart 20, Kiper 11, Schmelz 3, Thomas 3, Jones 2, Stewart 2.
3-point goals – CAI 6 (Doss 2, Dunn 2, Roy 1, Whitten 1); South Central 4 (L. Stewart 3, Schmelz 1).