Posted on

Panthers outrun Highlanders

CC’s Fessel reaches 1,000-point plateau
Panthers outrun Highlanders
Panthers outrun Highlanders
Corydon Central’s Trey Wiley (10) tries to get a shot off against Floyd Central’s Austin Cardwell in the first half of the Panthers’ 74-60 win over the Highlanders. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

Pace can mean everything in sports or just everyday life, whether it’s with a ball or a race or just walking down the street. People and teams have liked using a pace that is both comfortable and sometimes not so comfortable, but yet productive for what they’re doing.

On Friday night, pace became the name of the game when the Floyd Central Highlanders came to Corydon Central for their boys’ basketball game. The Panthers used a pace that went to the extreme that the Highlanders couldn’t keep up with as they raced to a 74-60 win.

“It wasn’t the pace we wanted the game in,” said Floyd Central coach Greg Walters. “We didn’t defend the way we wanted to defend in, so they were able to get some points and get a little bit of a lead, which increased the pace of the game. We had to play catch-up.”

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to beat them since 2014,” said Corydon Central coach Joseph Hinton. “It’s a (Class) 4A team. Don’t pay attention to their record because it’s a really good team. They’re really strong and big and made some shots tonight that were pretty scary. I would look forward to seeing them compete the rest of the year, but I was really proud of the way our guys did against them.”

Both teams struggled through the first eight minutes with Floyd Central hitting just four of 16 shots and Corydon Central putting in three of 14 attempts from the field. Kaden Stewart tried to spark the Highlanders, slamming the ball through the basket, but instead the lead changed hands four times with the Panthers having a 12-9 edge at the end of the quarter.

The second period started with Corydon Central turning the ball over and Floyd Central’s Caleb Washington rattling the rafters with a bone-jarring dunk. The two teams traded baskets then Walters called timeout. Tevi Ali drilled a Highlanders’ three following the break, but Corydon Central went to the paint three times and Trey Wiley hit a short jumper for an 8-0 run and a 22-15 Corydon Central lead.

Ali countered with a three-ball, and Floyd Central called timeout. After the break, both teams missed from the field. Ali cashed in a single, pulling Floyd Central back within three, but T-Mac Wilkinson answered from downtown. The teams traded baskets again, then Corydon Central finished out the half with four for a 32-25 advantage at halftime.

“It’s frustrating because we just went up to Indianapolis at Roncalli and defended really well and played some of our best basketball,” Walters said. “That’s kind of disappointing that we weren’t able to defend at the level that we had last weekend. That made a huge difference. You have to give them credit that they were able to break us down from off the bounce.”

“We couldn’t get the lid off that basket in the beginning,” Hinton said. “I thought we were doing great defensively. We took them out of their sets, and we did a great job pressuring the ball. We said, ‘We have to get transition on this team. We’ve got to run the floor on them.’ They’re so big and they play really good defense when they’re packed in, so we had to make sure we could spread them out.”

The Panthers came out in the third quarter and laid the hammer down on the throttle. Tyler Fessel and Jalen Fowler fired in a deuce and quick three. Washington and Stewart negated that, but Fessel later scored in the paint and Anthony Martin hit a jumper for a 41-30 Corydon Central lead. Nathan Rushing drilled a Floyd Central three, pulling the Highlanders’ deficit back to single digits. That lasted only briefly as Fessel and Austin Vaughn scored in the paint. Ali scored the next five, Corydon Central’s lead down to seven. Corydon Central finished out the quarter with 5-0 burst to again lead by 12 with one quarter to go.

The Panthers pushed the pace to full afterburner in the fourth quarter. Points went back and forth, then Corydon Central launched a pair of baseball passes to Martin and Fessel for baskets and a 60-44 lead. Tre Walters and Brock Conrad gave Floyd Central three, but Corydon Central went flying down the floor again in transition with Fessel scoring inside to break the 1,000-point barrier. Floyd Central slowly clawed its way back, and Rushing later buried a three to close the gap to 10. Corydon Central took a brief timeout with just less than two minutes to go but committed a turnover. Floyd Central missed its next four shots. Austin Cardwell gave Floyd Central a final free throw, but Corydon Central finished with five to close the deal with the 74-60 win.

“This game was surprising to me,” said Walters. “The warmups didn’t go the way we would like. It was kind of dull, and the energy didn’t feel there. We’ve had energy even though we’ve played a brutal schedule and really good teams. Our guys have remained positive the whole time. Tonight you could just tell. Maybe it’s a little mental fatigue. The guys are trying and getting better. I thought we had gotten better every game, but this game was a setback, not that Corydon didn’t deserve to win because they’re a very good team, but that we didn’t play our best tonight.”

“We’re really trying to push the ball,” Hinton said. “We want it to be a high-paced game. We want to get the ball up the floor. We’ve got guys that are able to hit that lane and go. We’ve got really good passers now who are able to throw the ball up the court.

“A few times tonight I thought we messed around with the ball a little too much,” he continued. “If we had just passed the ball, we would have been wide open. We could have scored 90 points maybe. I was proud of the guys tonight. I thought they shared the ball pretty well with that high energy the entire time.”

Fessel led all scorers with 25 points for the game. Martin followed with 18, and Fowler finished with 13. Vaughn added 10 for the Panthers, who were 27 of 48 from the field (56%) and 12 of 16 from the charity stripe. Corydon Central finished with nine turnovers for the game.

“I knew coming in that I had to get 21 to get a thousand,” Fessel said. “Whenever I got it, it was just a surreal moment for me.”

Fessel said his team wanted to up the pace but admitted that at one point things may have gone into the red line.

“We wanted to get up and down, but sometimes we get a little ahead of ourselves,” said the Corydon Central senior. “I think we did a good job slowing it down there at the end a little, but it was a very fast-paced game … We probably played too fast for a minute. They looked like they were a little out of sorts going that fast. So were we, but they were out of sorts a little bit more than we were.”

Ali came off the bench to lead the Highlanders with 16 points, and Conrad finished with 10. The Highlanders didn’t have a good shooting night, putting in 21 of their 66 attempts (32%). Floyd Central connect on 9 of 15 from the charity stripe and had 13 turnovers.

“We got some layups, but we didn’t hit them,” Walters said. “We started the game out with some good shots. We got some wide-open looks at threes, and we weren’t able to knock them down. They made shots, and we didn’t. I don’t know what we shot from the free-throw line, but it felt like we missed quite a few of those.”

Besides Fessel scoring his 1,000th point, it also a special win for Hinton with his father, Hall of Fame coach Joe Hinton, a former Floyd Central coach, sitting on the bench with him.

“Knowing my dad is 84 years old, getting to coach with him is a blessing,” said the younger Hinton. “It’s something I can’t thank God any more for. I’m so blessed that my school corporation and community allow him to be on the bench with me. It’s surreal. He’s my hero, and I’ve looked up to him ever since I was a little kid. I just love being next to him. He’s got a lot of basketball knowledge to share. It was a good win for us today, and it was a good win for him.”

Floyd Central          9   16   15   20 – 60
Corydon Central        12   20   20   22 – 74
Floyd Central – Ali 16, Conrad 10, Washington 9, Rushing 8, Stewart 8, Walters 6, Cardwell 3.
Corydon Central – Fessel 25, Martin 18, Fowler 13, Vaughn 10, Wilkinson 5, Wiley 2, Walter 1.
3-point goals – Floyd Central 7 (Ali 3, Rushing 2, Walters 1, Washington 1); Corydon Central 4 (Fessel 1, Fowler 1, Vaughn 1, Wilkinson 1).