CC out-toughs Warriorettes for first title since 2013
By Alan Stewart, Contributing Writer
Corydon Central senior Ava Weber, coming off games of 21 points against North Harrison and 30 points against Charlestown and needing 18 points to break Corydon Central’s all-time career scoring record of 1,731 points, missed her first nine shots of Saturday night’s sectional championship against Scottsburg. The Warriorettes led 12-2 just four minutes into the game, representing Corydon Central’s biggest deficit of the post-season. As Lady Panthers’ fans sat in stunned silence, Scottsburg fans were shaking the arena.
But Lady Panthers coach Josh Conrad didn’t call a time out. Weber and her team didn’t panic.
They did what good teams do: they never quit.
With a stingy defense that forced 18 turnovers by Scottsburg and a methodical offense that wore down its opponent and exploited every crack in the defense, No. 6-ranked (Class 3A) Corydon Central clawed back in the second half and turned back its upset-minded opponent, 63-54. It was Corydon Central’s first sectional title since 2013 and the program’s 18th overall.
Weber’s record-breaking basket came with 5:22 left in the third quarter in the midst of a 10-0 run and it gave Corydon Central its first lead of the night. Though the game was tied at one point after that, Corydon Central never trailed again following Weber’s record-breaker. She wound up with 34 points, including 24 in the second half, and easily surged ahead of Lynne Johnson Thomas’ previous mark of 1,731 points. Her 34-point effort was tops in sectional finals throughout the state.
Each player who stepped on the floor wearing white, old gold and black contributed in some way, whether it was classmate Bailey Orme, who had two steals, two rebounds, one block, a field goal, a three, two free throws and a couple of assists, or it was freshman Reese Withers who came off the bench and had a put-back bucket at the third-quarter buzzer to give her team a two-point lead or it was sophomore Alyssa Groover, who knocked down back-to-back jumpers early on to keep Corydon Central in it while the team was trying to find its footing on offense. The list goes on and on.
“(Ava) made the one move at the elbow and drove to the basket, but everybody who was on the bench and everybody who was on the court got faked out. She made a jab step and went. She can just maneuver her body so well and get to the rim, and you have to give credit to her and you have to give credit to the other girls for finding her,” Conrad said. “They did a good job with the ball and Josie did a good job knocking some shots down. Reese had a big put-back at the end of the quarter; Groover played big and was huge the whole night for us. Bailey’s defense and passing ability and how hard Morgan Adams plays; she can hit a set shot and she can rebound and she’ll try to lock somebody down and will compete for every single loose ball that’s out there. Those are the people who make teams special when you have players like that.”
Orme, who was one of many players autographing spirit towels for future Panthers and Lady Panthers after the game, said winning a sectional is more than just cutting down nets and getting a trophy.
“Winning a sectional means that all the hard work we put in throughout the season has now paid off. Every single day that we have shown up to practice and given 100% effort is what it takes to win a sectional. Winning a sectional with this team and coaching staff means the world to me. Winning this was the greatest feeling and, to do it with my best friends made it even better,” Orme said.
The third senior on the club, Bre Edwards, echoed Orme’s statement.
“Winning a sectional means so much to me. Ever since I was little I looked up to the girls who played high school ball and wanted to be just like them,” Edwards said. “It makes all the hard work worth it and is an amazing feeling especially since I got to experience it with two of the girls I’ve been playing with since about third grade. It really is a special feeling.”
“Coming out we knew they were good shooters. We knew stuff like that was going to happen. We knew they were going to go on runs, but we were going to be able to go on runs,” Weber said. “It all comes down to how we were going to come out of that. We knew they were going to shoot and make it but we can shoot, too. We have a bunch of shooters; we have a bunch of drivers.”
Scottsburg junior Carrie Hiller sandwiched triples around buckets from Katrina Cooper and Ellie Richardson to start the game on a 12-2 run, with Corydon Central’s only two points coming from Weber at the foul line. Groover hit back-to-back mid-range jumpers, and Orme bottomed a three to make it a three-point game, 12-9, with 2 minutes left. Neither team hit a goal the rest of the quarter with all of the points coming from the foul stripe and capped by two from Vaughn with no time on the clock to make it 14-13 in favor of the visitors.
Scottsburg’s offense got going again, while Corydon Central’s remained stuck in the mud for much of the second frame.
Richardson scored seven and Abbey Martin had four for an 11-5 spurt that gave the Warriorettes a 25-18 lead with 1:59 left. To that point, Orme had her team’s only field goal, with Groover sinking a charity toss and Weber dropping in two free throws.
Weber had a bucket, a steal and lay-in at the 1:10 mark to end the first half scoring and leaving Corydon Central staring at a 25-22 half-time deficit.
“The first few minutes there I tried to tell the girls we were just missing some shots,” Conrad said. “We got down 12-2, but a lot of that was just not locating some of their players and giving up some stuff and then we missed a lot of good shots. There were some off-balance shots, but we just told the girls to keep doing what they were doing, keep going at them.”
And “go at them” Corydon Central did in the third quarter.
Cooper and Richardson answered a Weber basket to start the frame, but Weber had a personal 6-0 run before Adams hit a goal. Weber had a steal and lay-up to cap the spurt that put the Lady Panthers on top, 34-29.
Scottsburg counter punched with an 8-3 run that tied it at the 1:07 mark.
In the waning seconds of the frame, Vaughn attempted a corner three that fell short, but Withers quickly caught the rebound and put the ball up and in to give her team a 39-37 lead.
Weber started the fourth with five straight points (and a new jersey after her No. 13 silks had to be swapped out due to blood), but Scottsburg’s Hannah Stutsman sank a three to make it 44-40.
From there, Corydon Central surged ahead with an 11-2 run. With the hosts locking down on defense, the 55-42 lead was too much for the Warriorettes to overcome the rest of the way.
Corydon Central shot 20 of 44 (45%) from the field, 3 of 11 (27%) on threes and arguably won the game at the foul stripe, going 20 of 28 (71%). The Lady Panthers won the battle on the glass, 27-24, and gave up 11 turnovers. Corydon Central was 6 of 22 (27%) shooting in the first half and 14 of 22 (64%) in the second half.
Richardson finished with 17 points, Martin scored 13 of the bench and Hiller scored 10 for the Warriorettes (19-6), who shot 18 of 40 (45%) overall and 31% (5 of 16) beyond the arc. Scottsburg got to the line 18 times and hit 13.
“They were pretty physical. Jeffersonville was, too. They wanted it, too. It just came down to all the little things: jump balls, diving on the floor for balls,” Weber said, sporting a bandage on her wrist that caused a blood delay as well as a fresh bruise on her forearm.
In all, there were an incomprehensible 12 jump-ball tie-ups on the night.
As for becoming the program’s all-time scoring leader weeks after teammate Orme became the all-time assist leader, Weber said other folks were far more concerned with the record than she was.
“I didn’t want to hear anything about it. People kept trying to tell me and remind me, and I said I didn’t want to know. I just wanted to play my game and if it happens, it happens and, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t,” Weber said. “I couldn’t get a record like that without my teammates who pass me the ball. It means a lot, but it doesn’t, you know what I mean? I just play to play and, if I got it, I got it.”
The Lady Panthers, who tied the mark for most wins in a season with 24, will face Rushville (14-13) for the Regional 15 crown on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Charlestown. The Regional 16 championship at 7 p.m. will be Princeton (16-10) against Gibson Southern (20-4), which upset No. 3-ranked Evansville Memorial on Monday night.
The only other meeting between Corydon Central and Rushville came in 2013 when the Lady Panthers last won a sectional title. In that one, Rushville walloped the Lady Panthers, 52-32, at the Brownstown Central Regional.
Corydon Central athletic director John Atkins said Lady Panthers fans needing ticket information should watch social media this week for an update, as well as an announcement on a community-wide pep session to take place tomorrow (Thursday).