Boys Basketball

Mustangs see season come to end at Semi-State


LAFAYETTE — Only four teams in the state get to have a jubilant celebration and walk away victorious in their final game of the season. For the rest, it usually ends with tears, heartbreak, and plenty of hugs.

The No. 2 ranked Fountain Central Mustangs saw their season end Saturday in the Class A Semi-State semi-finals to Southwood by a final score of 63-57.

FC ended the year 23-5 and were just two wins away from a state championship appearance.

The first half saw Southwood use its defensive pressure to bother the Mustangs as FC turned the ball over 13 times and made just five field goals. The Knights took a 31-19 lead into the locker room. But as FC has all season long, the battle-tested Mustangs didn’t quit. Slowly but surely, they worked them-selves back into the game with a 19-11 third quarter and trailed by just four at 42-38.

The Mustangs had it down to a one possession game multiple times but could never completely seize control. The duo of Nathan Lehner and Cole Winer paced the Knights as each of them scored 21 points in the win. Lehner was the closer as Winer fouled out in the early stages of the final quarter.

Despite the season coming to an end, Fountain Central coach Greg Dean, as he has all season long spoke loud and proud of his team’s performance.

“It took us a little longer than normal to settle into their pressure,” he said. “Once we did though we started to get some great looks in the second half. I’m proud of the way we adjusted and never gave up. I think it might have been just a little too late for us against a good team like they are.”

In just his second season at the helm, Dean has led FC to a Bi-County title, out-right WRC title for the first time since 1971, the first sectional championship since 2015, and the school’s first regional title in program history. The Mustangs set out and accomplished every single goal that they set out for themselves before the season began.

“Our kids were incredibly driven all season long,” Dean said. “They all had goals that they wanted to achieve and the only one they didn’t get was this one here today. With the pressure increasing almost on a weekly basis. There was a sense of relief a little bit after they won the sectional because of how bad they wanted it and the amount of work we’ve put in to get here. We had our ups and downs, but these guys stuck through it all and had a heck of a year.”

Will Harmon led all scorers in the with 23 points and added six rebounds. Isaac Gayler scored 17 points and recorded a double-double with 14 rebounds. Mason Larkin in his final game with the Mustangs scored six and ended with nine rebounds. Fellow senior Luke Foxworthy scored four in his final game as well.

What will leave a big impression on most is the resiliency of the Mustangs. Down 12 at halftime with their season on the line, they weren’t going to go down without a fight. In the regional championship against Liberty Christian a week ago, they were down eight entering the final quarter before coming all the way back in the final seconds.

“I’ve told people this with us. I don’t have to coach effort with this team,” Dean said. “They never want to throw in the towel, and they just go from start to finish. When you do that, the tides can turn. They stay the course all the time and believe in each other and what we’re doing.”

Dean also took some time to mention his three seniors in Larkin, Foxworthy, and Isaac Hehmann who all put on their Mustang jersey for a final time Saturday.

“When I came in my first year last year, it was a getting to know everyone type process,” Dean said. “All three of those guys this year knew what to expect from me and they came in with expectations. They were all tremendous leaders for our basketball team every day. They will forever mean the world to me and to our program.”

The small town of Veedersburg and the surrounding area knew about Fountain Central coming into the year. Not many outside of that small circle knew anything about the Mustangs or even where Veedersburg was. With this post-season run, Dean and his team have made sure to let the rest of the state know about what they’re building and what the Mustangs are capable of.

“We finished last season with momentum and wanted to carry that into this year and we did that,” Dean said. “We knew that we had it in us, but nobody knew about us, and we were virtually unknowns. Every day and every game we wanted to prove ourselves. Our kids probably played with a chip on their shoulder and all the success we had was tremendous. They should all be very proud of what they accomplished.”

FC will look to continue their success next season as they return three starters in Harmon, Gayler and Koby Wolf all for their senior seasons. Add in a deep bench and a successful JV team, and the Mustangs will continue to be a major threat.