Indian Creek boys basketball coach Derek Perry has been saying for some time that his team is playing for the sectional.
Don’t look now, but there could be another big prize directly on the horizon.
The Braves are in the driver’s seat for a Mid-Hoosier Conference championship following their 63-44 win Monday night at Eastern Hancock.
The win leaves Indian Creek (9-9, 6-2 in the MHC) needing a win Friday night at Waldron to secure at least a tie for the title with Knightstown.
A stumble by the 5-2 Panthers in one of their two remaining conference games and the Braves would win the crown outright with a victory against Waldron.
Perry said just this week he changed the mantra for his team slightly.
“This week we told them to put the sectional on the back burner for now because we’ve got something else to play for in a conference championship,” Perry said. “This is a big opportunity for the team, and I was pleased with the way they responded to this game.”
The Braves played an attractive style of basketball Monday, running a front-court weave and making precise passes to set up jumpers and layups throughout the contest.
Senior Brett DeHart tallied nine assists on the night, part of a season-high team total of 23.
Cameron Smith finished several of those passes, scoring 24 points to lead all scorers. Gynson Robley added 10, and freshman Tim Abel had a strong night off the bench, scoring 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting.
The defensive effort was also strong as the Braves held the Royals to just 6-of-21 3-point field goal shooting — well below their average in both baskets and attempts.
Minus a spate of offensive rebounds for Eastern Hancock in the first half, Indian Creek prevented the Royals from generating any kind of flow offensively.
“We knew going in they averaged 25 to 30 3-point attempts a game,” Perry said. “I thought we showed good energy to keep them from getting many good looks. This is the kind of defense we need to play all the time.”
The Braves’ rebounding improved in the second half as Robley, Cameron Smith and Austin Smith each grabbed six caroms.
The game was clean, with just seven turnovers committed per side and 20 total fouls whistled on the night.
For coach Aaron Spaulding’s Royals (13-5, 5-3), Derrik Noel scored 12 points. Logan Splater collected six rebounds.
Perry said the brand of basketball Indian Creek is playing now belies its 9-9 record.
“We had a tough spell early in the season with some tough opponents and losing some games we really should have won,” Perry said “They have really improved in a lot of areas, and tonight we just had a total team effort. It’s good to be going in the right direction, but we have to keep doing this.”
The Braves host Greenwood in a nonconference game at 7:30 tonight.