Sectional semifinals preview: Three county teams slated to play tonight
Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014 8:00 pm
BY JIMMY GILLISPIE firstname.lastname@example.org
Three Clinton County boys’ basketball teams advanced past Tuesday’s first round of the IHSAA sectional tournament and those teams will play tonight in the semifinals.
Like most championship teams, defense and rebounding were key in all three victories Tuesday night. They also shot well from the free throw line, locking up tight wins.
Clinton Central, Frankfort and Rossville will each play at approximately 7:30 tonight in the second game of the night at each sectional location. The first game will start at 6 p.m.
Each county school faces a different challenge tonight. CC is playing Southmont for the first time, Frankfort looks to avenge a previous loss to Crawfordsville and Rossville squares off with Frontier, who lost 100-58 at Rossville last month.
Here’s a quick look at the three sectional semifinal games.
Clinton Central (5-17) vs. Southmont (3-17)
For the first time in years, the Clinton Central Bulldogs won a sectional game and now they are into the semifinals. Tuesday’s first round win brought excitement to the rural county school and its players.
“The kids are really excited,” CC head coach Scott Leighty said. “They were really pleased with the way they played last night and I think they are starting to believe in themselves and each other. It’s really a good thing to see.”
The Bulldogs square off with a team that’s on a six-game losing streak after last winning Feb. 1 against West Vigo. Southmont also beat South Putnam and Riverton Parke. The Mounties began the year losing their first six games before losing three games and two games in between their three victories.
“We’ll take a look at some film before practice tomorrow,” Leighty said Wednesday night. “We’ll adjust our practice schedule a bit. Really we’re just trying to work on improve on some things that we didn’t do well last night. We want to see if we can shore those up and play our game on Friday.”
Much like Tuesday, Leighty knows his team must work hard to rebound. It’s lack of height makes that a challenge, but he knows his squad is capable of rebounding well.
“Rebounding will be key,” Leighty said. “We didn’t rebound very well at all last night. We have to do a better job of boxing out and securing the rebound. In the first half, they outrebounded us really badly and that led to a lot of second-chance points. We struggled to rebound and by the second or third time, we’d foul them. They were like 13 out of 15 from the free throw line in the first half. We did a much better job in the second half.”
The Bulldogs are a little beat up right now. Two players missed Tuesday’s game and will miss tonight’s game with concussions. Lewis Reynolds fell hard Tuesday and was taken to the hospital, but will be ok. However, he is also out of action tonight. Jack Rawlings rolled his ankle, but will play through it, according to Leighty.
“We have some guys really stepping up,” Leighty said. “Some of the guys are getting more minutes and I thought they answered the call. Everybody that came in played really well. It was good.”
Seeger and Fountain Central will play in the first game of the night. Fountain Central is the host school for the sectional.
Frankfort (16-6) vs. Crawfordsville (10-10)
On Jan. 31, Crawfordsville hosted Frankfort and arguably played its best game of the season, while the Hot Dogs started slow and never overcame it. Crawfordsville led 7-0 and stretched the lead to 22-10 at the end of the first quarter on a banked three-pointer.
Frankfort cut the lead to three points in the third quarter, but couldn’t ever take lead. Crawfordsville closed out the game and won 68-55.
“(Crawfordsville) shot 70 percent in the first half last time we played them,” Frankfort head coach Tom Weeks said. “They shot the ball very well that night. It comes down to our defense.”
The Hot Dogs look to avenge that loss tonight as they host Crawfordsville at Case Arena in the sectional semifinal.
“Playing at home always helps,” Weeks said. “This is tournament time and a whole different atmosphere. It ratchets everything up another level, so we have to hang on, bear down and fight as we try to move forward.”
Frankfort will roll in on an eight-game winning streak that dates back to a Feb. 8 home win over Clinton Central. The Hot Dogs ousted Lebanon on Tuesday with defense and rebounds.
“We’ve come a long way in how we’re playing, but it always comes down to our defensive effort,” Weeks said. “When we play defense and rebound like we’re supposed to, it leads into our offense and makes everything go well. Our whole focus is on our defensive effort.
“Even though we weren’t hitting from the outside, we drove to the basket and got to the free throw line,” he added. “When one thing isn’t working for you, you have to be versatile and attack in another way. That’s what we were able to do.”
Frankfort will have senior Isaac Rudd back tonight. He sat out Tuesday as a coach’s decision as a result of earning a technical foul Friday night. He is one of eight seniors on the roster. Frankfort will be looking to get off to a better start tonight.
“What we’re doing is coming into this game focusing on playing one possession at a time,” Weeks said. “We’ll play one play and one quarter at time and let the big things take care of themselves.”
Western Boone and North Montgomery will square off in the opener at Frankfort.
Rossville (14-8) vs. Frontier (7-14)
On the surface, it looks like Rossville should cruise to an easy semifinal victory over Frontier. Rossville crushed Frontier 100-58 on Feb. 15. However, Rossville head coach Dave Mosson knows his team can’t overlook the Falcons … even a little.
“You can throw out the records and how bad you beat somebody is no longer relevant,” Mosson said after Tuesday’s win. “This is the second season and one-and-done and you’re out. We’ll emphasize that between now and Friday. I think we learned our lesson, because I think we overlooked Tri-Central last year. It’s hard to convince 16 and 17 year olds that it’s hard to beat a team twice in the same year.”
The Hornets led 59-41 over Frontier in their opening contest. They pulled away by outscoring Frontier 21-7 in the third quarter. The defensive effort in the second half will be needed tonight, according to Mosson.
“We have to play better defense,” Mosson said. “We gave up 41 points in the first half. We have to tighten up defensively. I’m not sure we can play much better offensively than we did that day. We shot around 62 percent from the field and dominated the boards.”
Frontier suffered a five-game losing streak late in the season before defeating South Newton and losing at Clinton Central in the regular season finale. Both squads are led by groups of seniors. Frontier has six seniors and Rossville has four on its roster.
However, Rossville has the height advantage. Frontier has two players taller than 6-feet, 1 inch with 6-2 and 6-3 sophomores. Rossville starts two seniors who are 6-4 and 6-6, along with a 6-3 junior.
“We’ve had great senior leadership all year,” Mosson said. “We keep talking about not overlooking anybody and I think they’ve taken that to heart. We had our state final coach came in and talked to them about that tonight. He did a really nice job. The players from the state championship team came in and talked to them Monday. We remained focused on the task at hand, which is beating Frontier. We had a good practice tonight. The kids were locked in and focused. Hopefully that’s not going to be an issue.”
Faith Christian and Carroll (Flora) play in the first game at the Tri-Central sectional tonight.