SELLERSBURG, Ind. – After a couple of semifinal games on Thursday that recalled a slower, more defensive-heavy style of basketball, Providence and Silver Creek advanced in to the finals 56th annual Silver Creek Holiday Tournament.
The Pioneers slipped past crosstown rival Clarksville, 32-30 and then Silver Creek held off Charlestown, 40-37.
The host Dragons (7-2), winners of seven straight, will face Providence (7-1) in the final at 7:30 p.m. Friday, preceded by Clarksville (5-3) against Charlestown (2-6).
“It’s the familiarity with the teams,” Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman said, explaining the lack of offense. “There isn’t a bad defensive team in the tournament. That has a lot to do with it.”
Providence 32, Clarksville 30: Eli Coker got off to a sizzling start for the Pioneers, while hitting 4 of 5 shots and scoring nine points in the first quarter as the Pioneers led 13-7 at the end of the first period.
“The shots started falling for me, and it really picked up my confidence,” said Coker, who finished with 14 points.
In the second quarter, the Generals got a big offensive lift from Murphy McEwen. With the Pioneers clinging to a 28-26 lead in the fourth quarter, Providence’s Sean Morris grabbed a loose ball under the basket and fed senior Juston Betz, who drilled a 3-pointer with 2:39 left.
“Juston’s three was huge for us,” Providence head coach Andrew Grantz said. “To me, that was so big for us because it made it a two-possession game.”
The 3-pointer by Betz were his only points of the game. The Pioneers played without guard Landon Sprigler, who is out with an ankle sprain. He is doubtful for the final. Christian Stewart led the Generals with 10 points.
Silver Creek 40, Charlestown 37
The Pirates surged to a 14-8 lead in the first quarter after Miles Matthews hit a 12-footer and then followed it up with a 3-pointer. The Pirates still led at the half 22-20.
In the second half, Silver Creek’s Cam Stephens got going offensively, scoring all 13 of his points after halftime.
Even with Stephens’ offense, the Dragons trailed 37-33 after six straight points by the Pirates. Isaiah Harris converted a fast-break layup with 2:39 left and Charlestown led by four but wouldn’t score again.
Zane Gross, who led all scorers with 14 points, scored a 3-pointer with 1:10 left and the Dragons led 38-37.
Stephens converted two free throws with 4.6 seconds left to give the Dragons a three-point lead. Charlestown then inbounded the ball, and Silver Creek inserted 6-foot-9 junior Gavin Campbell, who was playing his first varsity seconds of the season. Campbell deflected the ball, got fouled and the Dragons held on.
“You can’t teach 6-foot-9,” Hoffman said. “My 3-year-old son could’ve figured that out to put the big guy in. We save him for those special situations.”
The Dragons got six points in the paint from Jacob Garrett.
“If there’s any one who can will themselves to score, it’s him,” Hoffman said. “Nobody’s going to out-work him, and no one will get in his way.”
Charlestown coach Jason Connell said his team needs to figure out how to get over the hump.
“You’ve got to do more than play hard,” he said. “You’ve got to take care of business. We had the opportunities. There’s a lot of basketball left.”
Silver Creek Holiday Tournament
PROVIDENCE 32, CLARKSVILLE 30
Juston Betz 3p; Cullen Ebert 8p; Eli Coker 14p; Sean Morris 2p; Alex Judd 2; Dawson Mitchell 2p.
Murphy McEwen 9p; Benett McEwen 3p; Christian Stewart 10p; Nathan Ludwick 2p; Alex Taylor 6p.
SILVER CREEK 40, CHARLESTOWN 37
Jordon Knobel 8p; Miles Matthews 11p; Brendan Lawler 9p; Isaiah Harris 7p;Trey Crace 2p.
SILVER CREEK (7-2)
Cam Stephens 13p; Zane Gross 14; Josh Landers 2p; Hunter Popp 1p; Jacob Garrett 6p; Jack Hawkins 4p; Bennett Beyl 11r.