Panthers deliver knockout to South Central
Alan Stewart, Contributing Writer
Corydon Central took a left hook to the mouth to start the first half of last Tuesday night’s bout against South Central then delivered a 1-2-3 punch in return to the tune of a 64-56 victory as both boys’ basketball teams prime for sectional play this week.
Visiting South Central took a 17-9 lead by the end of the first quarter, thanks to Lucas Stewart’s 11 points in the opening set, but a 20-2 run in the second period — powered by 10 points each from Corydon Central’s Anthony Martin and Bryce Weber — gave the hosts a lead they’d not relinquish the rest of the way, despite multiple rallies from the Rebels.
“South Central came out and played extremely well and extremely hard against us, and we kind of took it and we weathered the storm and got to where we needed to be going into halftime and hold onto that in the second half,” Corydon Central coach Joseph Hinton said. “We were able to fight back the entire game. South Central played extremely hard and were able to keep us on our toes. It was our job to take those punches and roll with them and do our best. We were able to answer back and finish the game.”
South Central (2-16), which hasn’t defeated its school corporation rival since December 2003 in the now-defunct Jeffersonville Holiday Tournament, trailed by as many as 16 in the third period before cutting the deficit to eight to start the fourth and to seven with two minutes left in the game before falling short in the end.
“Where the game turned was the last four or five possessions of the first quarter,” said South Central coach Greg Robinson. “We had a 17-9 lead, and we stopped them every time and we weren’t able to get a score any of those possessions. You can’t play against a decent team and let them back up off the mat. Those last possessions hurt us because we weren’t able to get the ball in the basket. We got OK shots, but they just didn’t go in.
“The second quarter, I thought their pressure hurt us and we started to make adjustments, then we came out flat at the start of the third quarter and battled back with a nice run to put us back in the game,” he said. “If we got the stop in the fourth quarter, we couldn’t get the ball in the basket and, if we got the basket, then we couldn’t get the stop. We couldn’t string the score-stop thing together enough to cut into it and give ourselves a chance.”
Corydon Central (9-12) scored the first two baskets of the game before Stewart started feeling it. The 1,000-point scorer dropped in 11 to go with baskets by Christian Kiper, Ty Jones and Clay Thomas for the early advantage. From the 5:35 mark of the period, when Fessel had an old-fashioned three, Corydon Central’s only points came on a Martin bucket with 3:39 left. South Central wasn’t able to do much with its defensive effort, however, as it went scoreless during the final 2:45 minutes.
Hinton said his club wasn’t patient enough on offense and left Stewart open too many times.
“Shots weren’t falling, and we were taking a lot of quick shots, one-pass shots,” he said. “When you do that and the shots aren’t falling, the game can get out of hand and that’s how we got ourselves in that hole … I told them that we had to attack the basket and attack the boards with people on the offensive glass and the 3-pointers would come. You get some easy baskets going into the lane, and all of a sudden it opens up the entire court and you are able to hit shots when you are in rhythm. Getting a shot from a collapsed defense is a much better shot than a one-pass shot, as well, because you get that defense moving and all of a sudden you are getting some gaps and you get an inside-out game going on and that’s how the game of basketball is supposed to be played.”
“(Stewart) is a good player and is able to score the ball inside and out,” Hinton continued. “He was able to get hot there, and we were leaving him open and he was able to take us to the basket, so one of our main focuses was denying him the rest of the game and making sure someone else had the ball in their hands.”
The Panthers’ rally started with back-to-back baskets by Martin, followed by a Weber basket. Martin hit a freebie just before Jones briefly ended the run at the 5:26 mark of the second. Martin picked up five straight points, then Weber canned a pair of threes and a deuce to push the lead to 29-19 for Corydon Central.
Nathan Farnsley and Stewart came through with goals for South Central, and then Jagger Holton scored for Corydon Central. Farnsley hit a shot, then Koleton Kaiser connected on two frees for the hosts to set the score at 33-25 at the break.
Corydon Central’s onslaught continued through the first two minutes of the third period, with a Fessel lay-in extending the lead to 46-30 with 5:51 showing.
Thomas had a tough put-back to end a 13-2 run by the Panthers, but a Rebels’ comeback, spurred by Christian Kiper, Jones and Maddox Baker, brought their team to 52-44 to start the final eight minutes of action. Baker buried a couple of triples to slice the affair to 59-52 with two minutes remaining, but the Rebels could get no closer.
“I think some guys came in and did a nice job,” Robinson said. “I thought Nate Farnsley did a good job for us in the first half, and Clay Thomas did a great job for us in the second half, and Maddox, of course, got us some big threes.
“We had guys step up, which is a good thing, and, if we can get them all stepping up at the same time on the court, we can be pretty good,” he said, as he looked forward to sectional.
The Rebels will play Friday in the semifinal round of the Borden 1A Sectional against the winner of Lanesville-New Washington.
“Tonight is a great test for us to prepare for Lanesville, if that’s who we happen to play in the sectional,” Robinson said. “It’ll be good to see where we are at versus where we are right now. I think we’ve made a nice surge, and not having to play three games is great. There are no easy outs in the sectional, but having that bye gives us a week to prepare for whoever we play.”
Corydon Central shot 23 of 61 (38%) from the field and sank 6 of 25 (24%) on triples. The Panthers got to the foul stripe 15 times and hit 12.
South Central was 22 of 59 (37% ) overall from the floor, 6 of 20 (30%) on threes and made it to the line only seven times, hitting two.
Rebounds went 30 for Corydon Central and 46 for the Rebels, while the Panthers won the turnover battle, 7 to 18. South Central had eight miscues in the pivotal second period alone.
Martin finished with 17 points to lead the winners, with 15 of those in the second and third quarters. Fessel scored 15, and Weber had 14 after going scoreless in the first. Kaiser went 4 of 4 at the line to finish with six points, Holton scored six with Owen Shireman and Nolan Ables tacking on three points each.
“We were able to take the punches as they came and get to where we needed to be. It was good to come out with a victory tonight in our last home game of the season and get the ball moving and rolling into this Friday (against Christian Academy of Indiana) and into next week,” Hinton said.
The Rebels were paced by Stewart and Baker, who had 16 apiece. Stewart was held to just three points in the second half. Kiper scored 10, Jones had six and Farnsley and Thomas chipped in four points each.
Corydon Central closed the regular season with a 58-46 win at Christian Academy on Friday night. Kaiser and Fessel paced the Panthers with 17 and 13 points, respectively.
South Central 17 8 19 12 – 56
Corydon Central 9 24 19 12 – 64
South Central (2-16) – Baker 16, L. Stewart 16, Kiper 10, Jones 6, Farnsley 4, Thomas 4.
Corydon Central (9-12) – Martin 17, Fessel 15, Weber 14, Holton 6, Kaiser 6, Ables 3, Shireman 3.
3-point goals – South Central (Baker 4, L. Stewart 2); Corydon Central 6 (Fessel 2, Weber 2, Martin 1, Shireman 1).
Corydon Central 10 17 16 15 – 58
Christian Academy 10 6 14 16 – 46
Corydon Central (10-12) – Kaiser 17, Fessel 13, Weber 8, Martin 6, Ables 5, Shireman 5, Holton 4.
Christian Academy (7-16) – C. Doss 16, Dunn 13, Morgan 6, N. Doss 5, Roy 4, Witten 2.
3-point goals – Corydon Central 3 (Ables 1, Kaiser 1, Martin 1); Christian Academy 5 (C. Doss 3, N. Doss 1, Dunn 1).