SALEM, Ind. – The wait for its postseason opener was longer than expected for Class 3A No. 10 Salem, but the Lions wasted no time jumping on their first-round opponent Thursday evening.
Behind a balanced offensive attack and 13 fourth-quarter points from Hunter Weedin, host Salem notched a 68-61 win over upset-minded Scottsburg in the first of two rescheduled Sectional 30 openers. Originally slated for Wednesday night, the opening-round games were moved to Thursday due to power outages caused by severe weather.
The Lions (21-2) now advance to a sectional semifinal matchup – moved to 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Salem – versus Silver Creek (15-8), a 60-53 winner over Corydon (8-16) in the nightcap Thursday. Brownstown (22-2) will take on Charlestown (12-10) in the semifinal opener Saturday, and the final is set for 7 p.m. on Monday. The Braves ended North Harrison’s season at 11-12 by way of a 58-43 win Tuesday. Scottsburg, meanwhile, finished 5-19.
Salem’s win over the Warriors marked its fifth sectional victory since the 2008-09 season, when the Lions won four postseason games en route to a 20-5 record and a trip to the regional championship. But Salem coach Hank Weedin, who’s won two sectional crowns in 16 seasons, said the Lions have a lot of work to do after Thursday. Salem jumped out to a sizeable lead early, but it battled with Scottsburg the rest of the way.
“If we’re going to be a contender to win sectional, or even further, you have to be able to put your foot on people’s throats,” Hank Weedin said. “We had them down 12-2. They came a little bit out of what they wanted to do. … Our defensive execution is not acceptable, but we did advance, and we’re going to get back to work on it.”
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Hunter Weedin paced the Lions with his 16 points, and London Suvak added 13 for Salem. Xavier Haendiges chipped in 10 points, and Jeffrey Burch and Jaelen Nice added nine and eight, respectively, for the Lions. Mitchell Prince led Scottsburg with 27 points off nine 3-pointers – a school record – and Mitchell Meagher, one of the team’s three seniors, added nine points, nine rebounds and five assists.
“Luckily for us, we have a lot of firepower,” Hank Weedin said. “ … We come down and hit shots, but now we have to keep playing defense. That’s (the case) for a lot of our guys. We have to get them playing defense. (But) luckily we have some guys that can handle the ball, and we have some guys that can shoot.”
Salem began the game on an 8-0 run, and the Lions took a 15-7 lead into the second quarter. The Warriors, though, answered with an 8-0 run of their own to knot the game at 15-15 with 6:43 until halftime. A Meagher bucket gave Scottsburg its first lead at 25-24 later in the quarter, but Salem entered halftime with a 32-25 advantage.
The Lions opened the third quarter on a 7-0 spurt, and they led 47-37 heading into the final period. Salem led 54-41 with 5:09 left before Scottsburg’s last-ditch effort. A Meagher 3-pointer cut the Warriors’ deficit to 59-55 with less than two minutes left, but Hunter Weedin was too much down the stretch. He scored 13 of Salem’s 21 fourth-quarter points.
Dragons handle Corydon in opener
Three-time defending sectional champion Silver Creek held off Corydon 60-53 in its sectional opener Thursday by way of a commanding third quarter.
The Dragons, who led by six at the break, used a 17-4 third-quarter edge to open up a 43-24 lead entering the final period. Silver Creek went 15 of 17 from the line in the fourth to seal it.
Silver Creek will match up with sectional host Salem, a four-point winner over the Dragons in the regular season, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The winner will advance to Monday’s final at 7 p.m. versus the winner between Brownstown and Charlestown.
Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman, who owns three sectional championships in his six years with the Dragons, said he challenged his team at halftime Thursday.
“At halftime, we (said), ‘We need a championship-level effort in terms of offensive rebounds, attacking the basket, running the floor hard – just picking up the energy a little bit,’” Hoffman said. “That was the difference in the game, obviously, the third quarter. … The defense was there. Really, the defense was there the first three quarters, I thought. Offensively, in the first half, we settled a lot for jumpers.”
Cameron Stephens led the way for Silver Creek with 23 points and four assists. Jack Hawkins and Zane Gross each added 11 for the Dragons. In his final game with Corydon, Jordan Ripperdan totaled 18 for the Panthers, who graduate five seniors.
Silver Creek fell behind 5-0 early before the Dragons found their range. Hawkins’ third 3-pointer of the opening quarter gave Silver Creek a 12-8 lead, and it went into the second with a 15-14 advantage off a 5-for-8 clip from distance. The Dragons opened up a small advantage in the second and led 26-20 at the break.
“We’ve got some good shooters,” Hoffman said. “ … The kind of 3s you want are the ones that come inside-out. Our advantage on them was our size, so we knew, eventually, we had to get the ball inside at some point.”
The third quarter began with two straight Silver Creek buckets, and the Dragons later used a 12-2 run to up their lead to 38-22 with 2:39 showing. Silver Creek entered the fourth with a 19-point edge and cruised to the final.
The sectional semifinal matchup with Salem, Hoffman said, was to be expected.
“We knew that we’d have to go through them to try to win sectional,” Hoffman said. “This is the year they’ve been looking forward to for a while. They’ve got a lot of physical talent. They’ve got a lot of experience, and Hank (Weedin) does a great job. So we expect it to be a possession battle.”
Class 3A Sectional 30 first round at Salem
Salem 68, Scottsburg 61
Lions (21-2): Hunter Weedin 16p, 4r; London Suvak 13p; Xavier Haendiges 10p, 3a; Jeffrey Burch 9p, 2r; Jaelen Nice 8p; Derek Cornett 7p, 4r; Seth Hobson 5p, 3r
Warriors (5-19): Mitchell Meagher 9p, 9r, 5a; Mitchell Prince 27p; Jimmy Neace 10p; Nicholas Sebastio 10p, 3r; Casey Smith 3p, 3a; Taylor Funk 2p
Silver Creek 60, Corydon 53
Dragons (15-8): Cameron Stephens 23p, 4a; Jack Hawkins 11p, 5r; Zane Gross 11p, 2a; Sammy Barnett 5p; Bennett Beyl 5p; Hunter Popp 3p, 4r; Jacob Garrett 2p, 6r
Panthers (8-16): Jordan Ripperdan 18p, 2a; Alec Saulman 11p; Jacob Johnson 8p; Braydon Beauchamp 7p, 3r; Joey Wiseman 5p; Clayton Schreck 4p, 4r