Silver Creek — mired in a three-game losing streak to end the regular season — shook off some first-half doldrums and rallied past Madison 55-51 Wednesday night in the first round of the Class 3-A North Harrison Sectional.
The Dragons (13-8) now will face No. 6 Corydon (19-3), a 64-43 winner over cross-county rival North Harrison in the first game. Those two will meet in Friday’s second semifinal, preceded by No. 7-ranked Brownstown (19-3) against Charlestown (6-15) at 6 p.m.
The Dragons started the game in an offensive funk, hitting just one of their first 13 shots, and fell behind 13-2 by the end of the first quarter.* Silver Creek-Madison:
“The way we started the game tonight, we could’ve folded,” said coach Brandon Hoffman. “We could’ve started thinking about spring sports and spring break. We showed some heart tonight.”
The heart started with Zach Davidson, who scored eight of Silver Creek’s first 19 points and helped the Dragons stay within arm’s reach of the Cubs, the only team to beat No. 1 Greensburg (22-1).
“We’re not the prettiest basketball team, but we do know how to grind it out,” Hoffman said.
“We couldn’t hit a shot to save our lives,” said Davidson. “But we just kept grinding it out and our fans stayed behind us. … It all started at the defensive end. We started getting defensive stops.”
The Dragons then started to chip away, ever so slowly, at the cushion held by Madison (14-6). However, the Cubs still led 22-15 at the half.
Hoffman said he remained calm during the break.
“I told them we’re taking good shots. We’re just missing them,” he said. “We just need to stay the course.”
Gabe Bauer started to warm up, hitting two 3-pointers in the third quarter. Bauer scored all of his game-high 15 points in the second half.
“Gabe got into a rhythm,” Hoffman said. “When he gets into a rhythm, he’s a heck of a player.”
Silver Creek trailed 40-39 early in the fourth quarter but then scored the next eight points, the final four by Davidson.
After Davidson hit two free throws, he came down and drilled a 16-footer right in front of Hoffman, who said it wasn’t exactly the shot he wanted.
“He better be glad he hit that shot,” the coach said “… It takes guts to shoot. A lot of guys won’t shoot.”
Christian Reed, who missed the previous three games with a twisted ankle, came back and scored 11 for Silver Creek.
“We’re obviously a totally different team with him,” Hoffman said.
The Dragons iced the game by hitting 8 of 10 free throws in the final 2:40.
Though they didn’t appear too confident in the first quarter, Davidson said the Dragons “knew we could beat them because we beat them before.”
The Panthers took control early, racing to a 14-2 lead in the first quarter.* Corydon-North Harrison:
Tommy Wiseman ignited the early run for Corydon, scoring 13 of his game-high 18 points in the first quarter as the Panthers led 22-7 after the period.
The lead grew to 21 points late in the third quarter before the Cougars (9-12) started to chip away.
North Harrison’s Austin Nolot heated up in the fourth quarter, when he scored 10 of his 16 points and the Cougars cut the deficit to 49-38. Then the Panthers scored the next nine points and cruised.
Corydon coach Jamie Kolkmeier said the Panthers weren’t as consistent as he’d like.
“We were really good for awhile and then we weren’t very good,” he said. “We kind of lost some focus.”
Kolkmeier, however, said the Panthers played solid defense throughout. “For the most part, we made them take tough shots,” he said.
Brayden Lander added 13 points for Corydon.
North Harrison coach Greg Walters said his team tried to keep the ball away from Corydon’s 6-foot-7 Bronson Kessinger.
“You have to hand it to them,” Walters said. “They hit some big shots. They’re one of the best in 3-A basketball for a reason.”