After seven tries, the Greenwood Christian Academy boys basketball team finally has earned a postseason win.
Since joining the IHSAA in 2006-07, the Cougars have been a one-and-done team in the sectional. But that changed Wednesday night when they earned a 68-57 first-round victory against Southwestern (Shelby) in the Class A Edinburgh Sectional.
A balanced scoring attack and a strong defensive effort paved the way for the Cougars (16-5), who will play Lutheran in the second of Friday night’s semifinals.
Lutheran advanced with an earlier 44-40 win against Baptist Academy. Morristown plays Waldron in the other semifinal.
Coming off the bench to lead the Cougars with a team-high 27 points was senior guard Tadd Thompson, who hit 10 of 11 from the field, including three 3-pointers to go with eight rebounds.
Senior Lucas Peters had 14 points for the Cougars, and senior center Gunnar Rastenburg chipped in 11.
For a team that’s made a living with its perimeter shooting, the Cougars were able to penetrate the lane and attack the basket early on.
For ninth-year coach Jamie Satre, the long wait for a sectional win was well worth it.
“We’ve finally got the monkey off our back,” he said. “Anytime you can get a win in the state tournament is great, but this one is really special, so we’re really excited. Our game plan from the beginning was not to just settle for the outside shot.
“They were really pressuring us outside, and they didn’t want (Morgan) Booher and Peters to get off on 3-pointers. We were able to take advantage of some of that and get layups. We’re just glad to get a win anyway we can.”
The Cougars got off to a hot start with Peters scoring eight points on three layups and a pull-up jumper, giving Greenwood Christian a 13-5 lead.
While Southwestern (5-15) opted for the 3-point shot (8 of 23), the Spartans eventually pulled within one at 16-15.
But just before halftime, Thompson hit a pair of 3-pointers to give the Cougars a 26-23 advantage.
Greenwood Christian did an exceptional job taking care of the basketball and finished the game with only three turnovers, all in the fourth quarter.
Booher, a senior, pushed the Cougars lead to 37-28 with a basket midway through the third period, but Southwestern’s outside shooting kept the margin within four and five points the rest of the way.
Southwestern, led by senior guard Logan Laughlin’s team-high 16 points, cut the Cougars’ lead to 59-54 with just more than two minutes remaining. But that’s as close as it would get.
Also scoring in double figures for the Spartans was senior Dalton Hudson and Bryce Rowe, who had 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Cougars senior center Gunnar Rastenburg finished with 11 points and four rebounds.