Basketball

Boys hoops: Whiteland, Center Grove advance to Johnson County tourney final

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Whiteland and Center Grove advanced Friday in the Johnson County Tournament.

Whiteland and Center Grove advanced Friday in the Johnson County Tournament.

WHITELAND — For a minute there, Indian Creek looked like they might pull off the upset against a Whiteland team no player on the roster had beaten before. The last time the Braves topped the Warriors was Dec. 14, 2010, in Derek Perry’s first year as head coach.

But there the Braves were, down just 52-50 in the late minutes of the fourth quarter against the heavily-favored Warriors in the semifinal game of the Johnson County tournament. Strangling the sheet of paper in his hands, Whiteland coach Matt Wadsworth called a full timeout, red in the face.

The message sent to his players — and in every timeout in Friday night’s game — did the trick, as Whiteland (8-2) drained late-game free throws and pulled away for a 67-63 victory over Indian Creek (8-4) on their home court to advance to Saturday’s finals against Center Grove (7-4).

“Throughout the game, with each timeout, it was keep moving the basketball,” Wadsworth said. “I felt as if offensively we got stagnant at time. Too much one-on-one off the dribble.”

The game started neck-and-neck, and the score remained tied at 18 after the first quarter with both teams moving the ball swiftly. But the Warriors then clamped down on the Braves and held them to just six points in the second quarter to take a 10-point advantage into halftime.

All night, 6-7 senior Michael Valle’ proved a challenge for the Braves, as he bulldozed through the lane on several occasions and even once threw down a dunk on a fast break. He finished with a team-high 21 points, hitting eight of his 16 shots.

When the Braves began pushing back late, the Warriors relied on free throws as they tried doing in the 61-53 loss to Greenwood on Jan. 6. Only this time, the Warriors’ precise foul shooting (18-of-20) dug them out of a hole and proved one of the deciding factors.

“We pushed the ball, we passed the ball, (and) we were unselfish,” Valle’ said with ice taped around his left ankle after dealing with soreness late in the game. “I think that all helped us.”

In Saturday’s championship game, Whiteland will face Center Grove for the fifth time since the beginning of last season, having only fallen once with a 63-52 loss in last year’s sectional.

“We played three times last year; this will be the second time that we’ve played this year,” Wadsworth said. “You get to the point where you know each other pretty well, so I think a lot of it will come down to effort and energy to pull it out.” 

Center Grove advances to finals in foul-heavy win over Greenwood

Not once did Center Grove (8-4) trail in a dominant 67-45 win over Greenwood (6-6) to advance to the finals of the Johnson County boys basketball tournament — but some of that falls on the Woodmen.

While the Trojans piled on the fouls, the Woodmen missed an alarming 23-of-40 free throws on the night, a majority of which came in the game’s second half.

Junior forward Eric Moenkhaus led the Woodmen with 13 points on just 4-of-14 shooting from the field.

Spencer Piercefield led the Trojans with 21 points (6-for-11). Travis Roehling added 14 points, and Trayce Jackson-Davis scored another 10 to round out the Trojans’ double-digit scorers.



Box scores


SEMIFINAL GAME 1

Center Grove 67, Greenwood 45

GREENWOOD     — 7 10 16 12 — 45

CENTER GROVE — 18 14 16 19 — 67

Greenwood — Braydon Kincaid 3-5 4-6 10, Max Raker 0-8 4-8 4, Adam Rapp 0-0 3-6 3, Eric Moenkhaus 4-14 4-4 13, Jeffrey Reynolds 2-8 6-13 Isaiah Drew, 1-1 2-3 5.

Center Grove — Ben Nicoson 1-2 6-8 9, Spencer Piercefield 6-11 6-6 21, Travis Roehling 4-8 6-9 14, Joey Klaasen 0-2 0-2 0, Trayce Jackson-Davis 4-11 2-5 10, Nate McLain 3-5 0-4 6, Lucas Doyle 0-1 0-0 0, Kas Oganowski 4-4 0-0 8, Parker Ferguson 0-1 0-0 0, Seth Piercefield 0-0 1-2 1.

SEMIFINAL GAME 2

Whiteland 67, Indian Creek 63 

INDIAN CREEK   — 18 6 15 24 — 63

WHITELAND        — 18 16 10 23 — 67

Indian Creek — Tim Abel 4-15 0-1 10, Trevor Ankney 1-3 0-0 2, Jared DeHart 7-15 2-3 18, Zach Pugh 3-7 0-1 7, Bryce Hogue 8-11 4-4 20, Andrew Pierce 1-1 0-0 2, Isaiah Lacey 2-3 0-1 4.

 Whiteland — Riley Higdon 1-2 4-4 6 ,Brennan Neal 4-5 2-2 10, Noah Hale 2-4 0-0 4, Aaron Gross 4-12 5-6 15, Michael Valle’ 8-16 5-6 21, Elijah Weatherspoon 2-5 1-1 6, Jacob Leistner 2-3 1-1 5.

Follow IndyStar reporter Jordan J. Wilson on Twitter: @Wilsonable07.