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Flashes’ defense stifles Woodmen

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The Greenwood girls basketball team found out what Center Grove and Franklin had experienced earlier in the week.

At the Class 4A Whiteland Sectional, Franklin Central came ready to play exceptional defense, especially in the first half.

Behind a 27-0 second quarter, the Flashes defeated Greenwood 60-35 on Saturday to claim their second consecutive sectional title and earn a spot in the Columbus North Regional against the host Bull Dogs.

In the sectional, Franklin Central’s defense forced 28 turnovers and held its three opponents to a combined 35 points on 12 of 62 shooting in the first halves.

In Tuesday’s first round, the Trojans scored 13 points in the first half. in Friday’s semifinals, Franklin had 15 points. And the Woodmen scored seven, all in the first quarter.

That second quarter was easily the difference in the final.

“We just had so many breakdowns,” Greenwood coach Debbie Guckenberger said. “(Franklin Central junior Kennedy) Archer just killed us. She had 15 of her 18 first-half points in the second quarter. We just weren’t getting her blocked out.

“She had lots of putbacks. They were just outhustling us.”

Franklin Central coach Brian Hacker said defense is a focus for the team, something it works hard on every day.

“These kids, they buy in together, and everybody is on the same page, it can’t get much better” Hacker said. “From Tuesday night all the way through (Saturday night) in the second quarter, they locked down and were on it.

“They’re really focused on it. And that’s huge.”

The trick, keep moving on defense.

“I always tell them, it’s happy feet,” Hacker said. “They move their feet, I’m happy. Especially with the taller, lankier kids and younger freshmen, they can’t get stopped and started fast enough for a good cover, especially against someone two or three years older. And we’re pretty young, so if you can get them to do it now, it’s something you don’t have to worry about teaching from here on out.

“I think our defense, that’s going to always be our key.”

The Woodmen didn’t get a single point in the second quarter and trailed 38-7 at halftime.

Along its way to holding Greenwood scoreless in the second quarter, Franklin Central forced seven turnovers and scored on 12 of its 15 possessions, shooting 10 of 16 from the field along the way.

That’s about as close to perfection as a team can get in a quarter of basketball.

“We kind of got everything we wanted there,” Hacker said. “If we can carry it over for a few more games, that would be great because from here on it’s probably number three (Columbus North), number two (defending state champion Bedford North Lawrence), number one (Lawrence North) for us to advance.

“These kids did a great job.”

Greenwood sophomore Holly Hoopingarner scored a game-high 26 points, making all 11 of her free throws.

“She had a pretty good game,” Guckenberger said. “She really battled. And (the Flashes) were just all over her, double teaming, clawing and scratching. She’s got all kinds of battle wounds.”

Archer led Franklin Central with 24 points on 10 of 15 shooting. She finished the sectional with 61 points.

The Woodmen played better after halftime, winning the second half 28-22 thanks in part to forcing 11 turnovers.

And they didn’t panic after falling behind 11-3 in the first quarter and used a 4-0 run to get within 11-7 Franklin Central to start the second quarter.

But the Woodmen never got any traction in the second quarter, turning the ball over on their first two possessions.

Greenwood loses three seniors: Sydney Hite, Sarah McLeod and Brittany Gray.

But the seniors did get to play in a sectional final for the last three seasons, including the program’s first-ever sectional championship in 2012.

And Guckenberger said they have a lot to be proud of.

“I don’t think any senior class in the history of Greenwood has been able to accomplish (playing in a sectional final three consecutive seasons),” she said. “They’re just good leaders, good kids.

“We’re going to miss them, that’s for sure.”

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