HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Mustangs go cold in sectional loss to Patriots

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VEEDERSBURG — Fountain Central scored 17 first quarter points in its IHSAA Sectional opener against Seeger on Tuesday night.

The problem is they scored just 15 more the rest of the game, falling to the Patriots 47-32. The Mustangs third loss to Seeger this season.

Fountain Central (9-13) was 8-of-17 shooting in the first period, taking a 17-13 advantage, but made just 5-of-28 the rest of the way.  

Seeger (8-11) took its first lead 18-17 on a Drew Holland 3-pointer with 6:37 left in the first half. Seeger held Fountain Central to a single point in the second stanza and led 30-18 at the intermission.

“It’s really disheartening,” Fountain Central coach Phil Shabi said. “It’s like a microscopic of our season wrapped up into one game. I thought we played really well in the first quarter, getting opportunities around the basket. I’m just at a loss as to how we could go as long as we did without scoring and getting opportunities.”

Fountain Central went 12:39 without a field goal, before Mason Larkin scored with 3:59 left in the third quarter to cut Seeger’s lead to 36-20. Andrew Shabi nailed down a triple on the next possession and then another 7:02 scoring drought followed — helping seal the win for the Patriots — just their fourth in 18 tries against the Mustangs in the state tournament. 

Foul trouble and an injury to Larkin didn’t help matters for host school.

“A little bit of foul trouble hurt us with Eberly out of the game and then Larkin twisting an ankle and having to leave and not being able to get him back in the first half kind of took our momentum away too,” Shabi said. “Those two things in terms of scoring and having two guys out really hurt us.”

Freshman Will Harmon led the Mustangs with eight points, while Shabi and Eberly added seven apiece. Owen Snedeker led the Patriots with 13, while freshman Christian Holland added 12. Seeger was 17-of-33 from the field as the two teams combined for just five made 3-pointers. Seeger outscored Fountain Central 11-3 at the foul line and dominated the boards 35-21.

As Shabi’s third year at the helm comes to a close, the future looks promising with Harmon, Larkin, and others back, but there’s a lot of a work to do.

“We’ve got two guys that we feel are capable of scoring in double-figures in Larkin and Harmon,” Shabi said. “We had a very successful junior-varsity team this year and a nice freshmen group. So there’s some pieces we feel like we can work with, but if we think we can just blink our eyes and click our heels together and magically next year things are going to be a whole better for us without a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication and improvement, that’s just not going to be the case.”

But in the meantime, they’ll sure miss seniors Shabi, Eberly, Colton Robinson, Cole Kirkpatrick, and Cody Linville.

“Despite the heartache and the disappointments and things we went through this season in terms of wins and losses, there’s not a better group of kids that I don’t know if I’ve ever been around in 20 years of coaching,” Shabi said about the group. “They’re some of the finest student athletes that we’ve ever had here in terms of their academics, they’re dedication and coachability.”

Seeger will play Rossville on Friday night.

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