Before Friday’s sectional semifinal game against Hamilton Heights, Central boys basketball players listened to the end of the radio broadcast of their win against Fort Wayne Snider on Dec. 6. In that game, Central came back from a 12-point deficit to win by two points.
Coach Matt Fine liked the tactic so much, he urged his players to play the broadcast over again. He was confident Friday’s game would come down to a tight fourth quarter.
By the time Friday’s game was over, Fine and his Bearcats had their intended result. Central upset No. 10 Hamilton Heights 53-47 in the Class 3A Southside Sectional in Muncie Fieldhouse. The Bearcats trailed most of the game, but took the lead in the fourth quarter and didn’t let go.
Central will play Yorktown in today’s sectional championship game at 7:30 p.m. Yorktown defeated Blackford 75-56 in Friday’s other semifinal game.
Hamilton Heights (18-4) entered the game without a loss in the 2014 portion of its schedule. Central (9-11) came into Friday’s matchup with a 3-10 record in 2014. A win over Connersville to end the regular season broke an eight-game losing streak. Those long odds didn’t seem to faze Central in picking up Friday’s difficult win.
“It was a game that we wouldn’t have won four weeks ago, probably,” Central coach Matt Fine said. “But we’re a different team now than we were four weeks ago. And we’re a lot more like we were early in the season.”
Central played without center Tyler Arens for much of the season due to injury, but Friday was the senior’s second game back. He had seven rebounds. He scored one point, at the end of the game when the result was no longer in question. Despite his limited scoring, Fine said his team is better with Arens on the court, citing improved confidence and psyche.
Phillip Corthen was Central’s leading scorer, finishing with 18 points. He scored eight points in the fourth quarter to help pace his team to the win. The Bearcats trailed by three points at the end of the third quarter, and Corthen quickly hit a 3-pointer to tie the game.
Marcus Dukes was the only other Central player to finish in double-figures, scoring 11 points. Joe Williams had eight.
Garrett Paull led Hamilton Heights with 15 points. Grant Weatherford scored 12 and Hunter Crist finished with 10.
Yorktown beats Blackford 75-56
Yorktown used a big second quarter to pull away against Blackford in what turned into a 75-56 victory for the Tigers.
Junior guard Caleb Morey connected for three 3-pointers in the second quarter, and a four-point advantage morphed into a 14-point halftime lead. Yorktown shot 67 percent (6-for-9) from the field in the second quarter, while also going 5-for-5 at the foul line.
“Anytime you can get that kind of lead in the tournament, it’s good,” Yorktown coach Greg Miller said. “It lets you get some guys in and explore some depth, just getting control of the game is probably more important.”
Yorktown’s rebounding advantage was also prevalent in the second quarter, with the Tigers (17-4) outrebounding the Bruins (8-13) 8-2. Yorktown outrebounded Blackford 28-14 for the game, with junior center Riley Neal snagging eight boards for the Tigers.
Yorktown junior Riley Miller led all scorers with 22 points. Morey scored 15, Neal scored 13 and Carson Moore scored 12.
Blackford was led by Tryse Hendricks, who finished the game with 21 points. Trace Oswalt scored 15 points for the Bruins and Hunter Tobey added 12.