Lady Panthers ‘W’ closes out regular season
By Alan Stewart, Contributing Writer
Nine days after netting 22 turnovers against rival North Harrison, Corydon Central upped the ante in Marengo on Thursday night.
In what wound up being the regular-season closer for both clubs, the No. 12-ranked (Class 3A) Lady Panthers put the clamps on Crawford County, forcing 30 miscues and holding the hosts to just three field goals after the first quarter en route to a 55-21 victory.
Corydon Central’s scheduled game against Madison Consolidated was canceled, closing out one of the most successful regular seasons in program history at 19-2. Most recently, the 2005-06 edition finished 19-1 (and 22-2 overall) on the pre-tourney slate after an 18-2 (24-3) effort the year prior on its way to a runner-up finish in the Class 3A state championship.
“We say let your defense create your offense and we try to get our hands into passing lanes and get out and run in transition. We’re a pretty athletic team one through seven, and we’re pretty up and down the floor,” Corydon Central head coach Josh Conrad said. “(The players) are so active defensively, and we just try to get our hands into those passing lanes to push the ball out. We seem to do a really good job feeding off one another when we do that, too.”
The Lady Panthers, who started the game with an 11-0 run, had four players reach double figures: Ava Weber led the field with 12 points after going scoreless in the first quarter, while Jaiden Cantrell, Bailey Orme and Josie Vaughn all added 10 apiece for the winners, who have won seven straight and 12 of their last 13 heading into this week’s sectional.
“You’ve got to be excited for that kind of balance as we get going into sectional with some of those girls getting some confidence back,” Conrad said. “They can score and shoot a very high percentage and take shots that come to them instead of forcing things too much.”
After the visitors raced to the early lead on buckets by Cantrell, Vaughn, Orme and Chloe Cannon, Crawford County (10-12) caught some momentum and capitalized on a handful of Lady Panthers’ turnovers. Junior Natalie Stroud, who led her team with 10 points, broke the ice at the 2:52 mark, then teammate Taylor Herbaugh connected from deep for her club’s only triple. Stroud closed out the period with a goal with 1:15 left to trim the deficit to 11-7.
That’s when Corydon Central turned up the defensive pressure.
Weber had a couple of old-fashioned three-point plays that helped push the advantage to 23-7 before Stroud hit a foul shot with 4:33 showing. About a minute later and after a deuce by Corydon Central’s Avery Adams, Stroud closed out the scoring for both clubs with a basket at the 3:07 mark, setting the half-time tally at 28-10. The Lady Panthers forced 16 first-half turnovers.
Crawford County scored the first three points of the third quarter but got no closer the rest of the way. The Lady Panthers outscored the hosts 13-3 in the final eight minutes.
The Lady Pack, which came into the fray having won six of its previous seven, fought throughout but could never get in a rhythm offensively due to the miscues. Defensively, the hosts held Weber about seven points below her average.
“At times, I thought our defense was pretty good. We wanted to limit Weber and Cantrell inside and be physical. I thought we did that for the most part. They are good players and they are going to slip through and get their stuff, but what hurt us was when Corydon would turn it over, we’d get two or three stops in a row we couldn’t come down and capitalize. Credit to them for that. They aren’t 19-2 for no reason. Being a 3A school with that kind of record and their two losses are against legitimate teams, they are going to make some noise next week,” Crawford County coach Christopher Broughton said. “Overall what I take from this game, we didn’t back down from their physicality and we battled with them. When your kids are battling hard, that’s all you can ask of them. Now we can take a little time and focus on the sectional. We aren’t going to play anyone in our sectional who has the athletes or speed that Corydon has. If we can play in sectional with the physicality and the defense that we showed at times tonight, I think we’ll be fine.”
The Lady Panthers shot 22 of 43 (51%) from the field, 3 of 11 beyond the arc and were a perfect 8 of 8 at the charity stripe, with Cantrell sinking half of those. Crawford County was 6 of 33 (18%) from the floor, 1 of 11 on threes and 8 of 14 at the line.
Corydon Central came away with a few more rebounds, 26-20 but wasn’t far behind in turnovers with 21, including 13 in the first half.