Lady Panthers’ fire drenched by Creek
By Alan Stewart, Contributing Writer
In last Tuesday night’s Class 3A North Harrison Sectional championship game, it turned out that the only thing that could stop a team on fire was a team forged in fire.
Corydon Central came into the matchup ranked No. 12 in its class, having won nine straight games to face defending state champion and No. 4-ranked Silver Creek.
No stranger to taking everyone’s best shot, the Lady Dragons took a few punches before settling in and delivering a late-round TKO to Corydon Central, 65-56.
The 56 points scored by the Lady Panthers were the second-most surrendered by Silver Creek this season (65 versus Columbus East in the Lady Dragons’ Jan. 25 loss).
“They are a really good basketball team,” Silver Creek head coach Scott Schoen said of Corydon Central, which finished 21-3, with two losses to the Lady Dragons. “Honestly, if you look at our regular-season game against them, we were down 12 to 7 to start the game and then we got it out to 20-something. But I told the girls that’s a really good basketball team over there. We knew coming in that we were going to have to go to war. Josh (Conrad) does such a good job with them …
“You’ve got to be forged in fire … to be strong against a team like them,” he said. “(Corydon Central) did a great job.”
The Lady Panthers were thumped by 29 points by Silver Creek on Nov. 22 then dropped only one more game the rest of the season before giving a much better showing in last week’s defeat.
“I thought we played well early, but they made a run to get the lead back at halftime. Then, we went about four minutes there in the third without scoring,” Corydon Central coach Josh Conrad said. “That put us on our heels, and we were trying to play catchup after that, and that’s not something you want to do against Silver Creek. Our kids didn’t quit … They played hard the whole game.”
Corydon Central rocked Silver Creek in the early going, jumping out to a 14-7 lead behind six early points from sophomore Jaiden Cantrell and four more from junior Ava Weber. Though Lacey Tingle canned a basket just before the first quarter ended, the Lady Panthers led, 16-13.
The first of three Corydon Central field-goal droughts started in the first on a Josie Vaughn basket with 1:03 left to a triple by junior Bre Edwards with 4:16 remaining in the half. During the stretch, Silver Creek went from trailing 16-9 to taking a 22-19 lead. Edwards’ bomb tied it, but Lady Dragon Kynidi Mason-Striverson converted a three-point play as part of her 16-point night to push her club back out front.
Cannon and Weber hit deuces and Bailey Orme sandwiched a three around a triple by Reese Decker for a 29-28 Corydon Central lead at the 2:07 mark. Tingle reclaimed the lead, and then Sydney Sierota splashed a triple in the waning seconds for a 33-29 half-time advantage.
Orme’s basket was the last for Corydon Central until Cantrell scored at the 5:06 mark of the third, a stretch of about eight minutes. The second dry spell resulted in a 9-0 run for the Lady Dragons, who ended the third quarter with another buzzer-beater, this time from Emme Rooney.
As they’ve done all year, the resilient Lady Panthers hung tough.
Cantrell and Orme brought their club to 42-37 with 2:41 left, but there wouldn’t be another field goal for Corydon Central until Vaughn drilled a three with 4:13 left in the game. Silver Creek went on an 11-4 run during the stretch, with all four of Corydon Central’s points coming from Weber at the foul stripe.
Weber scored seven of her team’s final 10 points in the contest, but the Lady Panthers could get no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Weber went 9 of 10 at the foul stripe (all clutch in the fourth quarter) on her way to 17 points, while Cantrell shook off a four-point night in the semifinal against Salem to light it up for 16 points.
“You have to give the kids credit; they kept playing hard all the way through …, ” Conrad said. “You have to be proud of the two great seniors that we have, Chloe and Addison (Sailor). We aren’t successful without those two and their attitude and leadership; just remarkable kids who are going to be successful. You hate to lose them from your program, but you know that your community is gaining so much and that they are going to do great things.”
When Conrad was asked if he could have predicted the type of season Corydon Central had, he didn’t hesitate.
“I say yes. I watched us play this summer and you see a lot of tools and potential there and you bring back Ava, Bailey, Chloe and Jaiden from a team last year and you add Morgan Adams to that and then you bring Josie in as a freshman,” Conrad said. “You have a lot of pieces there that are going to go compete, and I think we surprised a lot of people, but I don’t think we surprised ourselves.”
The Lady Dragons also got 13 apiece from Rooney and Sydney Sierota, while Merideth Wilkinson notched 11.
Corydon Central shot 18 of 40 (45%) from the field, 4 of 15 (27%) from downtown and 16 of 21 (76%) at the line. Silver Creek was 19 of 42 (45%) overall, 5 of 13 (38%) from deep and 22 of 32 (69%) at the stripe.
Silver Creek was thrashed on the boards in the first half, 20-7, but overall wound up trailing Corydon Central by just a few, 33-22. The Lady Panthers had 18 turnovers, but only five after the break, to Silver Creek’s nine.
Silver Creek (25-2) went on to defeat Rushville (17-10) in the Charlestown Regional opener, 48-44, then knocked off Gibson Southern (19-8), 53-39, in the championship game. The Lady Dragons will take on Bishop Chatard (18-10) in the Jeffersonville Semistate on Saturday at 3 p.m., with the other game being the Class 1A Semistate pitting the only other team to beat Corydon Central this season, Tecumseh (18-8), against No. 1-ranked Waldron (24-1).