Even though Indian Creek was burning the net in the opening quarter, a long buzzer-beating 3-point basket still provided a spark in its Class 3A boys basketball sectional game against Greencastle Friday night.
That is to say, senior Brett DeHart’s bomb ignited the Braves to take control in their 71-48 semifinal victory against the Tiger Cubs.
The resurgent Braves advanced to tonight’s sectional final and will face Tri-West (14-7) for a berth in next week’s regional round. Game time is 7 p.m. in the Beech Grove gym.
Tri-West routed Danville 47-30 in Friday’s second semifinal.
After Greencastle tied the game at 20-20 with a 3-pointer by Holden King, Indian Creek went up by two on a basket by senior Austin Smith.
When the Braves got the ball back, with time winding down, DeHart hit the shot of the night to end the first period.
The senior guard sunk a 3-point bomb from the top of the key — that is, from the top of the key in his own backcourt — making a desperation two-handed heave that rattled in.
“I knew it was on line, but a lot of times when it’s on line, it’s either a little too long or short,” DeHart said. “It was kind of a momentum shifter.
“They were down by just two, and then we were up five.”
For Indian Creek coach Derek Perry, however, there was plenty of unfinished business at hand.
“I was disappointed in the first quarter when we let them get so many uncontested shots,” Perry said. “But our offense was rolling, and it flowed from the beginning to the end.
“In the third quarter, we got some stops and we rebounded very well.”
After taking a nine-point advantage into halftime, the Braves got some stops, all right.
They limited the Tiger Cubs to just three hoops the entire second half. Greencastle made just 3 of 17 field goal attempts after the break.
The Tiger Cubs shot just 30.4 percent from the floor, while Indian Creek was good on 60.9 percent of its field goal tries.
The Braves continued their effective ball movement against their opponent’s zone, breaking it wide open in the third period and leading by as many as 25 points in the final quarter.
Austin Smith hit eight of 12 shots from both the field and at the free-throw line to lead all scorers with 24 points. The senior also had eight rebounds and blocked two shots.
Sophomore Cameron Smith added 14 points, and sophomore Gynson Robley chipped in 13 for the Braves. DeHart finished with nine points and handed out four assists.
The Tiger Cubs (8-11), who were paced by junior Brody Bollman’s 16 points, closed out their season with a seventh loss in their last nine contests.
Perry noted his charges would enjoy their sectional triumph afterward, but the tourney schedule leaves little time to prepare for a championship contest.
But his team has won eight of its last 10 outings, confident to be sure, but still seeking improvement all the while.
“It’s a quick turn-around, and obviously we’re the underdog,” Perry said. “After starting 1-6, we’ve had a heck of a second half of the year.”
And a great start for his team’s second season.