Boys Basketball Semi-State Preview

Mustangs ready for semi-state challenge

No. 2 ranked Fountain Central two wins away from State Championship appearance


VEEDERSBURG — Fountain Central boys basketball is having a season that will be remembered forever. The No. 2 ranked Mustangs, who hold a 23-4 record, captured their first Regional title in school history with a thrilling, come from behind 54-52 win over Liberty Christian last Saturday which punched their ticket to this weekend’s semi-state. FC will make the short trip to Lafayette Jeff to take on 13-12 Southwood in the semi-state semi-finals as they now sit just two wins away from playing for a state championship.

“Every game that we’ve won along this journey has just brought us more and more joy,” senior Luke Foxworthy said of the post-season run. “It’s made us that much closer as a team and we’ve really started to play for each other. At this point coach (Greg) Dean has just told us it’s survive and advance and if we come together like we have we believe we can go all the way.”

Southwood while they only are one game over .500 are not to be overlooked. The Knights come into the semi-state winners of six straight and are currently averaging 63 points per game. In their Regional title win over 20-win Blue River, the Knights forced 28 total turnovers.

They have four players that score in double figures led by senior Nathan Lehner’s 15.4 points per game. Fellow senior Cole Winer sits a 13.6 and grabs 5.6 rebounds. Senior Jason Oprisek scores 10.6 a game and is the teams leading rebounder at 6.3. Rounding out the double-figure scorers for the Knights is junior Will Winer who scores 10.2 a contest.

“With us you can’t just focus on one guy and that’s what I’ve told the guys this week in practice,” Knights coach Christian Perry said. “You’re going to have to guard us evenly and I really don’t know night to night who might be our leading scorer. They all do a great job of distributing the ball very well to each other and they don’t care who scores and that’s nice to see from a team that’s playing their best basketball right now.”

Mustang coach Greg Dean continues to have the same approach since his team began post-season play. While the Mustangs are in the midst of a dream season, he knows there’s still work to be done and it begins in practice.

“You have to toss their record aside because they’re playing really well right now,” Dean said of the Mustangs opponent. “They like to get after you on defense and get out and run. They real aggressive in their press and in their 2-3 zone that they run so we’re going to have to take care of the basketball first and foremost. We can’t have too many live-ball turnovers because that usually results in points for them.”

Fellow FC senior Isaac Hehmann might not start for the Mustangs, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t found ways to make an impact both on and off the court. He along with Foxworthy and Mason Larkin have provided the leadership that has been needed along the magical journey.

“We’ve just tried to stay together through the ups and downs of this long season,” Hehmann said. “I’ve just tried my best to step in when I can and do what the coaches ask of me along with setting a good example for the rest of the guys. What we’ve accomplished so far is kind of hard to grasp with until you really sit down and think about it. It’s really been something special.”

What has been something just as special to watch as FC has made their ride through the post-season has been the support that they have received from the Veedersburg and Fountain Central community. In total over $7500 has been raised by the community and it’s all for the students. The money goes directly to providing tickets and transportation like fan buses, etc. for the games. At the Frankfort Regional last Saturday, the FC faithful showed up loud and proud just as they have all season long.

“What our community has done during this whole journey has just been eye-opening for me to witness,” Foxworthy said. “To see the community unite together just because of what we’re doing. Even if they haven’t been to a game, they’ve still seen us in the newspaper or heard us on the radio, they want to come congratulate us and see what we’re about.”

Dean added on to the community support that his team has received.

“When you live in a community like we do, the school is the centerpiece most often times,” he said. “Right now our basketball team is front and center because of their success and our community has come out in waves and waves to support these kids and our program. There’s so many positive things going on right now and our kids build and play off the energy that they’re able to give us.”

While it is a one game at a time mentality and it starts with Southwood on Saturday, Dean and his team did talk about the possible reality of if the Mustangs win both games on Saturday and the chance to play for a State Championship.

“When we first began the week this week I congratulated them on being one of final 32 teams in the state and the Elite Eight of Class A,” he said. “If we’re able to play 64 minutes of good basketball which isn’t out of the realm of possibility. They know they have to stick with our process but it’s something that we had to talk about. It’s amazing what we’ve accomplished and we’re all proud of them for it, but we still want to do more.”

If the Mustangs are to win Saturday morning, they would break the school record for wins in a season with their 24th of year.

FC and Southwood will tip things off from Lafayette Jeff High School at 10 am Saturday morning. The winner will play later that night at 8 pm against the winner of Marquette Catholic and Kouts with a state championship appearance at stake.