CP, Rossville start sectional tonight: Gophers, Hornets face familiar opponents
BY JIMMY GILLISPIE firstname.lastname@example.org
All six schools in the Class A Sectional 54 tournament at Tri-Central are quite familiar with each other and tonight’s first round matchups are two examples of that.
The first round games will feature four teams that played each other this season in closely-contested contests. Clinton Prairie (7-12) and Carroll (10-11) will play at 6 p.m. tonight in the first game with Rossville (13-8) and host Tri-Central (9-9) will play in the second game of the night. Faith Christian (5-16) plays the CP-Carroll winner on Friday while Frontier (7-14) plays the Rossville-TC winner in the second game Friday night.
“Obviously, it’s a lot of good teams and a lot of good coaches,” CP head coach Ryne Smith said. “(Matt) Weaver over at Carroll has obviously done a good job with the guys that he’s got. Carroll is a very good team and a very big team. Coach (Dave) Mosson has done a tremendous job with the seniors he’s got at Rossville. (Kyle) Zahn at Tri-Central has done a great job, too. I think it’s a really solid sectional and we’re looking forward to seeing what happens.”
CP and Carroll (Flora) first played on Nov. 30 and Carroll won a 51-50 home game over the Gophers. It was the second game of the season for each squad and it was more than three months ago, so Smith knows both teams have improved and changed since the first meeting.
“Both teams are completely different teams at this point in the season,” Smith said. “They played us primarily in man defense the first game of the season, but I’ve seen a lot of 2-3 or 3-2 zone that they play. This is going to be different ball game and we have to stick to the little things in our scouting report every possession to win the ball game.”
The Gophers are winners of their final four games after enduring a four-game losing streak. They beat Frontier and Western Boone to improve their record to 7-12 on the season.
“You always want to peak at the right time and the right time would be at the end of the season,” Smith said. “I thought we played tremendous against Western Boone and then we come out in the first half against Rockville kind of flat. Then we had a tremendous effort in the second half and came within four after being down 31-13 at one point. We just have to direct our positives in the right direction at all times. We can’t have a letdown and if we do, Carroll is going to take advantage of that on Tuesday.”
Meanwhile, Rossville enters tonight losing four of its last five games during a tough stretch to close out the regular season. Their lone win during that eight-day stretch was at Clinton Central. The previous win was a 100-58 blowout over Frontier on Feb. 15.
“Except for the Frankfort game, I thought we competed against some good teams,” Rossville head coach Dave Mosson said. “I’m a little concerned about playing all of the games we have in the last week and being physically ready, but we seem to be OK. We came through that gauntlet injury free, so that was a bonus. We’re coming into the sectional healthy. We’ve gotten better offensively the last five games or so. We played our best half of defense in the first half against West Lafayette. I think we’re peaking at the right time.”
Rossville hosted Tri-Central on Jan. 17 and won 57-39 over the Trojans. Although the Hornets won the first game easily, Mosson knows beating the Trojans a second time will be more difficult, especially at their home gymnasium.
“(Tri-Central) is a very physical team, so we’ll have to be ready for the physicality,” Mosson said. “They have three or four kids that can score on a consistent basis. We’re not going to be able to helping off of our man much, so our on-ball defense will have to be good. Then we need to run up the score on our end. We will have to execute in the half court.”
One thing that could benefit the Hornets is they play four seniors and three of them are their leading scorers. Those players have been through this before, including last year’s semifinal loss to Tri-Central.
“Hopefully it will help a lot,” Mosson said of having four seniors. “They’ve been through the wars and this is their third year. Hopefully, with the experience that they’ve gained, it will help. Our juniors are also playing really well right now. Clayton Howard has come on in the last seven or eight games and become a bigger factor offensively that we didn’t have early in the year.”
For CP, it has only one senior – Austin Martin – so its younger players will play a big role tonight.
“It’s going to be the team that comes on Tuesday, plays the hardest and does the little things, like defense, hustling and rebounding,” Smith said. “The teams that stick to the basics and do the right things are going to be the ones who have a chance to win the ball game.”