Floyd Central and Providence have for several years solidified one of the area’s most heated rivalries, and Friday’s matchup proved no different.
Play was chippy throughout, as expected, but Floyd Central ran away with a 59-41 win over visiting Providence behind 20 points from sophomore Cobie Barnes and a sound defensive performance. The Highlanders led 19-16 late in the second half and turned in an 18-2 run to open up a sizeable advantage.
Barnes, who tied a career high Friday, hit 4 of 5 3-pointers and shot 9 of 12 overall. Junior Luke Gohmann added 11 points and six rebounds for Floyd Central, and juniors Matthew Weimer and Brendan Hobson chipped in eight and seven, respectively.
“(Providence gets) up by six, and they’re so disciplined, and they’ll never take a bad shot,” Floyd Central coach Todd Sturgeon said. “They get to the foul line. They make their free throws and just control the pace of the game. They weren’t able to do that, so once we were able to get that lead in the second half, they had to speed up a little bit.
“It was a really good win for us. That team won’t be down 20 points very often this year. I can promise you that.”
Senior Alex Judd paced Providence with 16 points and four rebounds. Senior Eli Coker added 10 for the Pioneers, and junior Cullen Ebert drained two 3-pointers. Providence’s Juston Betz, who averaged 17 points per game entering Friday’s matched, was held to five points by way of a strong defensive showing from Weimer, Betz’ primary defender.
“Betz is an outstanding player. … For a guy that’s a 20-points-per-game scorer, he acts like the third man off the bench that’s trying to prove something to somebody,” Sturgeon said. “Matthew Weimer, a player that I respect that much, did a fantastic job against him.”
The Highlanders missed their first five shots, and while the Pioneers missed their first three, Betz set up Coker for a layup to open scoring for Providence. Barnes, though, answered with five quick points, and a Weimer bucket gave the Highlanders a 9-7 lead after one.
An 8-0 spurt extended the lead early in the second quarter, but the Pioneers answered, and a Betz 3-pointer on his first attempt cut Providence’s deficit to 19-16 later in the period. Then the Highlanders pushed the pace. A 6-0 run made the 25-16 halftime score, and two Hobson free throws capped the 18-2 run with 5:10 left in the third quarter. Floyd Central led 37-18 at the time and 40-27 at the end of the third.
“Floyd did a really good job,” Providence coach Andrew Grantz said. “They took Juston out of the game. We knew they were going to do that. … They came out in the third quarter and were able to jump out to that lead because of what they did in the first half. I thought the momentum carried over. I thought we played at a pace that was more favorable to them.”
The Pioneers weathered Floyd Central’s flurry and inched back to within 42-30 early in the fourth on a 3-pointer by Ebert, but a Gohmann bucket and Barnes’ fourth 3-pointer blew the lead back up to 47-30 with 5:05 left.
“We made a little run. … But by that point,” Grantz said, “we would have had to have near perfect play the rest of the game. We just dug ourselves a hole we weren’t able to get out of.”
The Highlanders are now 2-3 against Providence in their past five meetings. Dating back to 1998, the series is tied 10-10. Floyd Central is back in action Thursday as the Highlanders host their annual holiday tournament. Up next for Providence is a date with Charlestown Saturday.
Floyd Central 59, Providence 41
Highlanders (3-1, 0-1 Hoosier Hills): Cobie Barnes 20p, 7r; Luke Gohmann 11p, 6r; Matt Weimer 8p, 2a; Trevor Apple 2p, 2r; Tyler Kimm 3p; Brendan Hobson 7p, 8r; Evan Nichols 2r; Nick Winchell 3p; Gabe Shireman 5p
Pioneers (5-1): Juston Betz 5p, 5r, 3a; Eli Coker 10p, 3r, 3a; Dawson Mitchell 1r; Alex Judd 16p, 4r; Sam Conrad 2r; Cullen Ebert 6p; Sean Morris 4p, 2r