Once in a while, one of Michael Uhl’s assistant coaches has to remind him basketball is played — at least half the time — with the ball in Corydon’s possession. The advice is simple: Worry about the offense, Coach.
That is just not Uhl’s style. His focus is defense. It’s not pretty or eye-pleasing, but it carried Corydon to a sectional championship and a spot in Saturday’s Class 3-A girls’ regional at Brownstown.
The Panthers (19-5) will face Evansville Bosse (18-6) in the first game at 10:30 a.m., while No. 7 Rushville (20-3) will meet Jasper (15-9) in the second game. Those winners will collide in the final at 7:30 p.m.
Scoring doesn’t always come easy for the Panthers, who average a modest 49.7 points per game and have topped 60 only once this season. Their five losses have a common denominator. They scored 41 or fewer points in all of them. They’re undefeated when they score more than that.
Defense is the Corydon trademark. The Panthers allow only 40.1 points per game, and that’s the first stat Bosse coach Andre Thomas noticed.
“They are a very sound basketball team,” he said. “They have to be one of the better defensive teams in the state, very hard-nosed. It’s going to be a tough game for us.”
The Bulldogs have the firepower to challenge Corydon’s strength.
Senior point guard Janisha Lindsey makes Bosse click. She averages 18.8 points and leads the state in assists at 8.4 per game. She usually finds Jasmine Washington (13.9 points) or post player Dijanna Butler (11.4 points, 8.8 rebounds) with one of her pinpoint passes.
“Everything seems to go through her,” Uhl said. “The assist total is unreal. We have to figure out a way to slow her down a little bit.”
Lindsey has posted 11 double-doubles and has twice come within a rebound or steal of a triple-double.
“She is one of those girls who has a knack for finding her teammates in the right spots, and putting them in a very good position to finish,” Thomas said. “She handles a large portion of the scoring load as well. But on nights when she is scoring a lot, she is still finding teammates.”
Bosse’s fast tempo will also pose a problem. Corydon cannot afford to get caught in a shootout.
“We like to get up and down and run,” Thomas said. “We rely on our defensive pressure to produce points for us, and we put pressure on teams for four quarters to play basketball.”
Corydon’s production comes from junior Marie Rothrock (12.4 points), junior Taylor Frederick (9.2) and senior point guard (and the coach’s daughter) Kayla Uhl (7.1). If they can score enough to stay close, Uhl likes his team’s toughness.
“We seem to find a way to win at the end,” Uhl said. “For some reason we tend to pull those out. I wish I knew the answer to that because I could write a book. It’s definitely a team. It’s not one individual trying to carry four other people. All of them contribute and do what they need to do. I don’t know that I’ve had a team that’s as much of a cohesive unit as this team is.”
Corydon’s main concern is adjusting to Bosse’s quickness edge.
“We have to handle their quickness and athleticism in two ways,” Uhl said. “We have to slow them down on the offensive end and not let them get easy buckets. On the other end of the floor, they attack on defense and might make us play a half-step quicker than we’re used to playing.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on in the strength of schedule. I’m hoping that has prepared us for games like this.”