MARENGO, Ind. – Providence, No. 1 in Class 2A, rolled past Paoli 65-46 in the semifinals of Sectional 46 Friday night.
Providence (22-2) next will take on host Crawford County Saturday at 7 p.m. in the final. The Wolfpack (18-6) slipped past Clarksville (13-11) in the second semifinal Friday, 41-38.
Crawford County extended its winning streak to nine games. The Wolfpack last lost to Providence 46-37 on Jan. 17.
“Nobody in the world thinks we can compete with them,” Crawford County coach Levi Carmichael said of Providence. “That’s fine, and people can believe what they want. I think our boys have been looking forward to this rematch a little bit. We’re not going to back down. We’ll play a lot better tomorrow and we’ll be ready to go.”
Providence-Paoli: The Pioneers got off to a quick start, thanks to a 14-0 run in the first quarter. Providence led 17-4 when senior Juston Betz hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:29 left in the first quarter.
Betz hit all four of his shots in the first quarter, including three from beyond the 3-point arc. He had 11 points in the first period.
The Rams righted their ship in the second quarter. After Tyson Clark hitting a driving layup with 2:25 left in the first half, Paoli only trailed 21-17. Providence scored the final four points of the half on a power move by Dawson Mitchell in the paint and two free throws from Betz.
“I knew I had to step it up and help my teammates,” Mitchell said. “I credit a lot of those to points to my guards, who were able to get me the ball.”
In the third quarter, the Pioneers quickly extended their lead to 30-17 on a layup by Betz and a 3-pointer from Eli Coker. The Rams stayed within shouting distance until the start of the fourth quarter, when Providence started the period with a 10-2 run. After Alex Judd nailed a six-footer, the Pioneers led 54-32 with five minutes left.
Betz led Providence with 21 points. Coker added 18 points for the Pioneers, and Mitchell had 17, including 12 points in the second half.
“Juston started us off right and Eli finished for us,” Providence coach Andrew Grantz said. “Dawson played great. It was the best game he’s played all year. He’s attacking the rim. He’s being aggressive.”
Crawford County-Clarksville: In a game full of scoring droughts by both teams, the Wolfpack held on to advance to the final.
“It was March basketball in Indiana,” Clarksville coach Brian McEwen said. “Two teams going at it and somebody has to lose. … It didn’t work in our favor. We just ran out of steam.”
Clarksville spurted out to a 7-2 edge in the first few minutes as Crawford County missed its first eight shots. The Wolfpack finally got on track offensively in the second quarter, scoring the final eight points of the quarter. In the last 9:49 of the first half, Clarksville scored just two points.
Down 25-17 in the third quarter, the Generals managed a comeback of their own. Clarksville used 10-0 run to reclaim the lead on a 3-pointer from the left corner by Ethan Cummings with 7:38 left in the contest.Then Crawford County went on a 9-0 run. Adam Beasley converted a layup with 3:57 left and the Wolfpack led 34-27. Clarksville kept plugging away and pulled to within three points on several occasions in the final minutes but couldn’t get closer.
“We battled back and got it close,” McEwen said.
Alex Taylor, A 6-foot-7 senior who scored seven points in the second half, led the Generals with 12 points.
SECTIONAL 46 SEMIFINALS AT CRAWFORD COUNTY
PROVIDENCE 65, PAOLI 46
Jordan Clark 15p; Tyson Lawson 4p; Dawson Easterday 12p; Garrett Vincent 2p; Ashton Minton 7p; Jacob Babcock 3p; Dietrich Sears 3p.
Juston Betz 21p; Eli Coker 18p; Landon Sprigler 2p; Alex Judd 7p; Dawson Mitchell 17p
CRAWFORD CO. 41, CLARKSVILLE 38
Brent Smith 12p; Gavin Coleman 4p; Adam Beasley 10p; Tyrell Nickelson 7p; Matt Dearborn 4p; Josh Thomas 4p.
Murphy McEwen 2p; Charles VanWinkle 2p; Seth Hamilton 1p; Ethan Cummings 5p; Christian Stewart 8p; Nathan Ludwig 9p; Alex Taylor 12p