HENRYVILLE, Ind. — Providence continued its recent dominance of fellow Class 2A foe Henryville on Friday night behind a concerted effort from its lead guards.
Senior guards Juston Betz and Eli Coker, along with junior wing Cullen Ebert, combined for 35 points on 13 of 21 shooting to pace the 2A No. 2 Pioneers (12-1) to a 57-48 win over the sixth-ranked Hornets (13-3) inside Furnish Gym. The trio went for 15 points in the third quarter, outscoring the Hornets by itself.
Providence has now won 14 of its past 15 meetings with Henryville, who saw a six-game win streak snapped with the loss.
Betz tallied 12 points, four rebounds and three assists, and Coker posted 11 points, three boards and three helpers. Ebert scored 12 points, including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc. Senior forward Alex Judd had 10 points, four rebounds and three assists for the Pioneers, who’ve won eight straight games.
“They’re all really good basketball players,” Providence coach Andrew Grantz said. “They all attack you in different ways. Juston can score in multiple ways. Cullen is a really good knock-down shooter, and Eli is a good mid-range (player) – and good getting to the rim. Those three guys playing well, not only does it make your team better, but it makes guys like Alex Judd better.”
Senior wing Braxton Robertson poured in 15 points for the hosts, and junior sensation Nick Walker added 12 on 4-for-11 shooting to go along with three assists. Friday’s loss is the largest of the season for the Hornets, who are off to their best start in more than 70 years.
Henryville coach Jared Hill said the Hornets have work to do before possibly meeting Providence, a sectional opponent, again in postseason play. The Pioneers are now 4-0 versus Sectional 46 opponents this season.
“They’re just better than us, it’s one of those things,” Hill said. “They’re more sound. They’re better defensively. Offensively, they play within themselves. Thank goodness the sectional’s not played this week, because they’d run us out of the gym.”
Providence started 3-for-5 from the field and led 7-3 with five minutes left in the first quarter. Walker, who scored five first-quarter points for the Hornets, responded with an elbow jumper, but Henryville trailed 9-7 after one. The Pioneers went 1-for-7 after a strong start, but the Hornets couldn’t capitalize. The hosts went 3 of 10 in the opening period, including 1-for-5 from 3.
A basket by Walker to open the second quarter knotted the score, and a bucket on the ensuing possession by sophomore guard Kade Badger gave the Hornets their first lead with 6:23 showing, but it was Henryville’s only advantage of the night. Providence responded and took a 23-17 into halftime. The Pioneers went 6 of 8 in the second quarter.
“I don’t think it’s a secret – Providence is the team to beat (in our sectional),” Hill said. “I think they’re the second- or third-best team around behind Floyd Central and New Albany. They’re really good. If we don’t get things figured out, we won’t have a chance to compete in the sectional.”
Five consecutive points from Ebert two minutes into the third period extended Providence’s lead to 33-23 with 4:15 on the clock. A pair of Coker free throws and a 3-pointer from Betz later made a 40-25 advantage. The visitors led 42-30 after three before ousting the Hornets in the fourth behind a 4-for-6 shooting clip and 6 of 7 free throws – a late-game performance that’s escaped the Pioneers of late, Grantz said.
“Henryville is a very good team,” Grantz said. “We knew it was going to be tough. … I thought we got stops when we needed to. What I really liked is, we were scoring. Lately, at the end of games, we haven’t been putting teams away.
“(Henryville is) a good team. They’re very well-coached. Jared does a good job.”
Providence 57, Henryville 48
Pioneers (12-1): Juston Betz 12p, 4r, 3a; Cullen Ebert 12p; Eli Coker 11p, 3r, 3a; Alex Judd 10p, 4r, 2a; Landon Sprigler 6p; Dawson Mitchell 3p, 3r; Nick Boesing 3p
Hornets (13-3): Braxton Robertson 15p, 3r; Nick Walker 12 p, 3a, 2r; Andrew House 6p; Thomas Green 6p, 3r; Kasey Robertson 6p, 3r; Kade Badger 3p