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Cougars swept aside by Highlanders in sectional final

Cougars swept aside by Highlanders in sectional final
Cougars swept aside by Highlanders in sectional final
North Harrison sophomore Gavin Bigham returns a shot during the Cougars’ semi-final match against Salem in the Floyd Central Sectional on Thursday. Photo by Brandon Miniard
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]

If you’re ever asked if Floyd Central boys’ tennis is any good, assume the one asking is either new to the area or flat out messing with you.

Since 1987, the Highlanders have had a vice-like grip on the sectional field, having won each of the last 34 sectional championships. This long championship streak is second only to Munster, which just put the finishing touches on its 41st consecutive sectional title with a victory over Illiana Christian on Thursday.

In 2021, the drive to 35 seemed more like a cruise down the road to Highlander Point as the No. 20 Highlanders breezed by Eastern (Pekin) last Wednesday followed by conquering North Harrison in the championship the following day.

Before they could worry about the powerhouse Highlanders, the Cougars had to deal with Mid-Southern Conference-rival Salem in the semifinal on Thursday. Senior Joe Davis had trouble against Lions’ sophomore Cameron Albertson at the top singles flight, ultimately falling 6-1, 6-3. Senior Johnathon Seitz had a much easier time at No. 2 singles as he defeated Jacob Rose 6-4, 6-0.

The Cougars’ sophomore duo of Jakob Hoyer and Zach Miller did not fare well at the top doubles flight as they fell to the Lions’ Holden Collins and Joshua Burton 6-3, 6-3. Senior Logan Martin and junior Dawson Allen followed at No. 2 doubles as they handled Hunter Trainor and Nicholas Ingram 6-1, 6-3.

That set up the deciding match at No. 3 singles as sophomore Gavin Bigham dueled the Lions’ Paul Davis. After losing the first set 6-2, Bigham battled back to win the second set 7-5. The comeback continued as Bigham took the decisive third set with ease to win the flight 2-6, 7-5, 6-1, handing the Cougars a trip to the sectional championship with a 3-2 victory.

The Highlanders had a much easier time in their semi-final matchup against Eastern, easily dispatching the Musketeers with a 5-0 victory to force the championship matchup with the Cougars.

Out of all five courts, Seitz gave the Highlanders the most trouble at No. 2 singles as he forced a third set before ultimately falling to sophomore Ben Lammert 4-6, 6-4, 10-4. Every other flight was more of a formality for the Highlanders as senior Isaac Anderton defeated Davis 6-1, 6-0. No Cougar won a single game at either No. 3 singles or doubles flight as Bigham, Hoyer and Miller, and Martin and Allen all fell to freshman Riley Doddridge, the senior duo of Landon Hodges and Colin Jacobi, and the No. 2 doubles tandem of senior Jeremy Muller and junior Braden Poe in straight 6-0 sets, respectively.

Having secured their 35th straight sectional title (38th overall), the Highlanders’ next stop was the Floyd Central Regional. The Highlanders kicked off regional action yesterday (Tuesday) against rival New Albany, fresh off its 18th consecutive sectional crown. The winner will move on to the championship round to face the winner of the other semi-final matchup, which consists of fellow regional mainstays Silver Creek and Jeffersonville.