INDIANAPOLIS — Defending state champion and current Class 6A No. 1 Warren Central extended its winning streak to 42 with a dominant 58-37 victory over Hamilton Southeastern. The Warriors never trailed and led by as much as 24.
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Though the Warriors (10-0) had to work hard for a victory over Lawrence North just last night, they showed no signs of fatigue. Hamilton Southeastern won the tip and drove to the basket only to be thwarted by a trail block from Manny Brown. Brown took the ball down the court and passed to Jesse Bingham for a 3-pointer. The rout was on.
“It’s very important to get off to a good start,” Brown said. “We couldn’t have a bad start. We knew HSE was a good team. We couldn’t sleep because we know what they’re capable of.”
The Royals (8-4) had trouble finding an offense groove to match that of Warren Central’s. While the Warriors were knocking down 3s and jumpers, five of Hamilton Southeastern’s 7 first-quarter points came courtesy of the free throw line. Warren Central escaped a sloppy first quarter with a 14-7 lead. It would only get worse from there for the Royals.
Warren Central’s combination of stout defense and patient offense proved to be the perfect formula for maintaining its lead. Instead of rushing the ball up the court, the Warriors moved the ball around efficiently until an open shot was found.
This lax style of play came back to bite the Warriors in the start of the second half. Hamilton Southeastern scored three quick buckets on the groggy Warriors to narrow the deficit to 11. Warren Central coach Chriss Beyers was forced to call a timeout to straighten his team out.
Just as Brown proved to be a catalyst in the beginning of the game, he did so again to start the second half. With 7-2 Mabor Majak towering over him, Brown collected an offensive rebound and muscled it through to the basket to stop the Royals’ run.
The Warriors, who began the half getting out-muscled and out-played, flipped the switch to finish the game strong. Warren Central entered the final stanza leading 45-21, which proved to be more than enough. The offense kept its pace and the defense upped its tenacity.
“The difference was our communication,” Brown said. “We weren’t communicating with each other to start the second half. We get like that sometimes. We snapped back out of it.”
Bingham took it upon himself to put an exclamation mark on this commanding win with a fierce two-handed slam with four minutes remaining in regulation, bringing the Warren Central fans to their feet and draining the last bit of hope for the Royals.
Jameson Smith lead the way in scoring for the Warriors with 13 followed by Brown with 12. For Hamilton Southeastern, Chris Grubbs lead the way with 13 while Kole Hornbuckle also poured in 12.
The Warriors’ next challenge is a trip to Speedway on Jan. 8. Hamilton Southeastern returns home Jan. 11 to take on conference foe Westfield and attempt to stop a two-game losing skid.