If the capacity crowd that filled the Carmel High School gym Saturday was expecting a close sectional championship game between the host Greyhounds and North Central, they didn’t get it.
Carmel dominated from the start, in a 58-38 blowout that wasn’t as close as the 20-point margin. The Class 4A top-ranked Greyhounds led 12-0 before North Central scored and held the Panthers to just two points in the first and third quarters. Carmel led 41-13 heading into the fourth.
Carmel (21-2) will face No. 8 Kokomo (22-2) in this Saturday’s Marion Regional at noon. Kokomo beat McCutcheon 64-43 Saturday in the Lafayette Jeff Sectional. The Greyhounds own a 12-game winning streak over the Wildkats that dates to 2002 and includes a 54-46 regular-season win this year and a 52-48 victory last year in the regional.
North Central shot just 4-of-16 from the field Saturday to fall behind 28-11 in the first half. The Panthers shot just 36 percent (14-of-39) for the game.
“It’s all about how we defended,” said Carmel coach Scott Heady. “We were just really solid defensively. We rebounded and didn’t give them second shots. We felt like, if we could do that offensively, we have enough weapons to hit some shots and make some runs.”
The Greyhounds had more than enough weapons on offense, relying on a balanced attack. Junior 6-6 forward Zach McRoberts led Carmel with 13 points, eight coming on dunks. James Volovic and James Crowley each added 12 points and Ryan Cline scored 11 for Carmel.
“They’re a great team,” said North Central coach Doug Mitchell. “They’re just so well-disciplined in their roles. They were the better team (Saturday). I don’t know how to explain it. The stars aligned. We didn’t do anything well and they did everything well.”
North Central looked like it might get going early in the third quarter when Jeff Harris drove for a layup just seconds into the period, but Volovic came right back with a layup for Carmel to spark a 13-0 run that effectively put it away.
“Watching their other two (sectional) games versus Hamilton Southeastern and Fishers, they both had huge leads and (North Central) in the third quarter came back,” Volovic said. “That was the key to us: make sure we handled their pressure and had no turnovers. I think we did a pretty good job of that.”
Panthers freshman phenom Eron Gordon led all scorers with 14 points. Senior Darius Latham added seven points for North Central (16-6).
“Just like last year, we were coming in as the underdogs,” Volovic said. “No one really gives us credit. We have no Mr. Basketball nominees. We just play as a team. That’s what we’ve always done.”