HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

BOYS SECTIONAL PREVIEW: Mustangs get third shot at Patriots in sectional

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Fountain Central owns a pair of regular season losses to Seeger.

The same team they’ll open the postseason against on Tuesday night at home.

Seeger defeated Fountain Central 47-44 at the Bi-County on Dec. 30 and at Seeger 44-42 on Jan. 16. Tuesday’s meeting will be the first this season at Dave Sanders Court in Veedersburg.

“We played two really good halves of basketball against Seeger,” Fountain Central coach Phil Shabi said. “Unfortunately, they were in two different games. A big key for us will be having confidence that we are capable of getting the job done in game three.”

Inconsistency has been the story of the Mustangs’ season as they enter sectional play at 9-12. Fountain Central is averaging 53.2 points per game and allowing 55.4 points per night. They had a four-game winning streak in December, that followed with a four-game losing skid. Since their back-to-back wins over Clinton Central and Attica at the end of December, they haven’t won two games in a row, are currently on a two-game losing streak.

“We’ve improved on both sides of the ball,” Shabi said. “Unfortunately, we are struggling to put together solid offensive and defensive performances in the same game, which has impacted our ability to win games we are able to compete in.”

After a lost summer and early season quarantine due to COVID-19, Shabi says the Mustangs have focused on getting better every day out.

“We have made a concentrated effort to focus on daily growth and taking steps forward rather than dwelling on disappointing losses or lack of performance,” he said.

The Mustangs have balance with their offensive attack and it comes from players of all classes. Sophomore Mason Larkin leads Fountain Central with 10.4 points per game, while freshman Will Harmon chips in 9.9 a game. Seniors Andrew Shabi and Carson Eberly each score eight points a game.

Seeger (7-11) is led by Owen Snedeker. The sophomore averages 13.1 points per game, and was lethal to the Mustangs in the pair of regular season meetings. He scored 24 points in the first meeting, and 10 in the second. Senior Khal Stephen has returned from injury for the Patriots and is averaging 11.3 points in four games. 

The winner from Tuesday night’s 6 p.m. game will play Rossville (15-7) at 6 p.m. on Friday. In the second quarterfinal on Tuesday Clinton Prairie (12-6) will play Carroll (Flora) (19-3) and the winner will play Western Boone (4-13) in the second game on Friday. 

Shabi is confident the Mustangs can compete against every team in the field, but again confidence and consistency is the key.

“Confidence is the biggest key for us going into sectional play,” Shabi said. “We have the ability to be competitive against anyone in the field. We are going to take it one game at a time and I hope our players are able to play loose and free. Having home court advantage will definitely benefit us.”

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