Boys Basketball: Franklin Central Emerges From Wild Regional
Though there were only three total games, the Hinkle Fieldhouse regional packed a exciting slate of hoops action, which saw lightly-regarded Franklin Central power through two games behind star forward Patrick Bade to earn the Flashes’ first-ever semi-state appearance.
"Patrick’s been very solid for us all year," said Franklin Central head coach Mark James. "He’s obviously our biggest and best player, and everything we do offensively goes through him. He’s really stepped his game up in the tournament, and we’ve been fortunate to have a really good group of seniors to lean on."
In the first round, Franklin Central survived a late surge by the Pike Red Devils to take the semi-final match-up 65-62. The Flashes started strong, running up a 14-4 lead after the first quarter and taking a 15-point advantage into the locker room.
The two teams batted fairly evenly in the third quarter, and Pike made only a two-point dent in the Franklin Central’s lead. Two of the Flashes’ top players, point guard Casey Coons and forward Jordan Weidner, got in foul trouble in the fourth quarter, which resulted in Franklin Central struggling with Pike’s pressure defense down the stretch.
The Red Devils may have been able to push past the Flashes, but leading scorer Marquis Teague fouled out with 1:13 left to play. Still, Pike continued to press on, hitting back-to-back three-pointers to bring the score to 60-58.
After Weidner hit one-of-two free throws for Franklin Central, Pike’s Anthony White missed a game tying three-pointer with less than 30 seconds left, and the Red Devils’ time had run out.
It was a big win for Franklin Central, who lost to Pike (14-9) in late February 60-49. Bade had 22 points in the first of two big games by the Purdue-bound senior. Weidner added 12.
No. 3 Lawrence North faced-off with upstart Hamilton Southeastern in the other semi-final game, 50-45. Southeastern captured its first ever sectional title a week earlier and were considered to be substantial underdogs against the Wildcats, arguably the biggest team in the state.
The Royals did not back down from Lawrence North, however, and the Wildcats went down 34-33 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. North was simply too big and too long for the Royals, as the Wildcat defense forced Southeastern into missing eight consecutive shots and committing three turnovers in a row down the stretch. Combined with a number of offensive rebounds and free throws, all a couple of Southeastern three-pointers could do was make the final score closer
In the finals, the once heavily-favored Wildcats looked vulnerable, and Franklin Central did everything they could to exploit North’s lethargy, pulling off a stunning upset 49-36.
After beating Hamilton Southeastern, Lawrence North had won 13 games in a row, including a 14-point pasting of the Flashes and a huge win over No. 4 North Central in the sectional. The Wildcats power and height inside was not enough to overcome the stifling defense and efficiency of Franklin Central.
The Flashes scored 10 of the game’s first 12 points and had a six-point lead at halftime. That lead ballooned to as much as 15 in the fourth quarter, and Lawrence North was never able to get closer than eight.
The Wildcats committed 15 turnovers, shot just 36% from the field, and had no answer for Bade, who had a game-high 25 points. Coons added 10 for the Flashes, while Justin Martin put up 13 for the Wildcats and teammate Dominique Ferguson, a Kentucky recruit, added 11.
Next up for Franklin Central is unbeaten No. Bloomington South. The Panthers crushed the Flashes by 32 in January, but Franklin Central knows that is anything is possible when they are playing good ball.
"Basketball is sort of like driving on ice," said James, "because there are so many things that you can’t control. We don’t have any power over the refs or which way the ball bounces, we just have to go out and play our game. (Bloomington South is) hitting on all cylinders right now, and a lot of people probably don’t give us much of a chance, but (the loss) was over a month ago, and it’s a whole different environment now."
Bloomington South won its regional after beating No. 2 New Albany 61-50, then dominating Terre Haute South 66-39.
3A: Greensburg Surprises Roncalli, Tops North Montgomery
Despite losing their last two regular season games and three of their last six overall, Greensburg has clicked in the tournament. The Pirates managed to knock-off Batesville (19-3) in the first round of sectional play and took the crown after thumping Scottsburg.
Greensburg was not expected to contend with Roncalli, who had won 10 of their last 11 games, but the Pirates buckled down on defense and stifled the recently hot ninth-ranked Rebels, taking the game 43-40.
Greensburg held Roncalli star Aaron Evans to 14 points, but most impressively, kept the Rebels from hitting a single three-point shot all game, going 0-for-10. The Pirates took the lead early with a 9-8 advantage less than two minutes into the game.
The Rebels never regained the lead, though they did have a chance to tie the game up late in the fouth quarter after Evans made five consecutive points for Roncalli. A missed free throw and an off-the-mark jumper with 32 seconds left ultimately buried the Rebels and allowed Greensburg to advance to play North Montgomery.
Greg Dougan led the Pirates with 14 points, including three three-pointers. Teammate Latroi Wright added 14 points, while Kevin Banich, Roncalli’s best outside shooter, managed only two points.
In the finals, Greensburg faced-off with a very tough North Montgomery squad whose star, senior D.J. Byrd, was coming off a 34-point, nine rebound, three block performance against New Palestine earlier in the day. The Chargers did not have enough firepower to compete with the Pirates, though, as Greensburg took the regional title 62-57.
Greensburg (16-8) will face Princeton (27-0) in the semi-state.
Other State semifinals
4A: Fort Wayne Snider (24-1) vs. Munster (24-1)
Snider’s only loss came against 2A semi-state competitor Fort Wayne Bishop Leurs, whom the Panthers promptly beat in the very next game. Munster’s lone loss came at Merrillville (16-6), but the Mustangs have won 10 in a row, eight of which were by double-digits.
3A: Delta (22-4) vs. Rochester (22-3)
After a slow start, Delta has won 19 of its last 20, with its lone loss coming on the road against Mount Vernon in double overtime. Rochester had some close wins and a loss to Peru (19-5) down the stretch, but boasts one of the most prolific scorers in the state in senior Bruce Grimm, who is averaging over 26 points per game
2A: Fort Wayne Bishop Luers (21-4) vs. North Judson (20-5)
Leurs has dominated its same-sized competition this year, with its only losses coming against 4A teams. The Knights have the state’s leading scorer in junior Deshaun Thomas, Indiana’s only player averaging more than 30 points per game. Judson lost two games in a row towards the end of the season, but has beaten all of its post-season opponents by double digits.
Brownstown Central (19-6) vs. Winchester (21-3)
Winchester, the defending state runner-up, returns many key pieces on its quest for a title. The Golden Falcons have won 17 straight. Brownstown Central has scrapped out single-digit wins in each of its last three post-season games.
1A: Lafayette Central Catholic (20-6) vs. Triton (23-2)
Lafayette Central Catholic is led by senior Dru Anthrop, who is averaging over 22 points per game. The Knights have not lost to a 1A team all season. Triton is the defending state champion and, though missing some key pieces from last year’s team, is poised to make a run for back-to-back titles. The Trojans dominated their sectional, but struggled with Bowman Academy in the regional championship.
North Daviess (21-5) vs. Jac-Cen-Del (23-2)
The North Daviess Cougars avenged two of their regular season losses in the sectional and have won 15 straight. Jac-Cen-Del has won 16 straight. The Eagles’ only two losses were to 3A-ranked Batesville.