FRANKFORT — North Montgomery’s boy’s basketball season came to its final stop Wednesday with a 54-30 loss to Greencastle in the first round of the Class 3A Sectional 25 tournament.
After nearly a month-long hiatus running up to the tourney, the Chargers, who finish 2-12 on the season, had too many turnovers and not enough offense to better the Tiger Cubs, who move to 19-6 overall and head into the sectional semifinals Friday.
The Chargers, playing their first game since Feb. 9 because of Covid protocols, got off to a slow start, intentionally, as they slowed the pace of the offense down from the first possession.
The difficulty was that after taking time off the clock, several of the possessions resulted in turnovers, and the Tiger Cubs capitalized. They led 17-3 at the end of the first quarter, and all other plans had to change.
“We wanted to limit their (Greencastle’s) possessions,” North coach Chad Arnold said, “but the turnovers, not boxing out, and missed layups were too much. We didn’t get out on their shooters, and they hit some shots. That got us down big early.”
While the Chargers used a box and one defense to limit Tiger Cubs leading scorer Brody Whitaker, it was all the other guys in the white jerseys that inflicted the pain.
Whitaker, averaging nearly 24 points a game, was held to three shots and eight points.
In his place, Evan Alexander hit three triples in the first quarter and four on the game. His co-game-best 12 points was five better than his season average.
Coming off the bench, Cole Hutcheson added a dozen of his own, nearly 10 points better than his average. Nick Sutherlin at 11 was two better than his average.
“They are a good team,” Arnold noted. “We put the man on Whitaker and the others really hurt us. It gave us plenty of problems on defense.”
Coming out shooting, the Tiger Cubs scored their first nine points on the Alexander three’s and never looked back.
“Alexander played really well,” Greencastle coach Bryce Rector said. “Then the other guys stepped up with some shots and that was big. North Montgomery wanted to slow it down, and we were able to speed them up. Hutcheson got an early steal and a bucket that really opened it up. We got them out of their plan, got some turnovers and shot it well. It was a good combination for us going into Friday.”
The Tiger Cubs were shooting at a 60 percent clip until the reserves missed some shots late. They finished 19-of-35 as it was, and dropped a 9-of-23 effort from three-point range and added 7-of-8 from the line.
The Chargers finished 12-of-33 from the field, 5-of-15 from long range and only 1-of-4 from the line.
Jakob Kirsch led the scoring for North with 10 points, followed by Colton Zachary, who came off the bench to score six.
Greencastle had nine turnovers, while the Chargers had eight, a deceiving stat because the Tiger Cubs scored after every turnover, finishing with 16 points off the miscues.
Greencastle held a 25-16 margin off the glass. Sutherlin had five for the Tiger Cubs and Logan Kelly led North with three boards.
Kelly is also the lone senior on the Chargers roster.
“Logan has meant so much to this program,” Arnold said. “He is an awesome kid, and was a big part of last year’s success, and then took the leadership role this season. I really enjoyed coaching him – he is what coaching is about. He is going to be a success in his life and I thank him.”
The Chargers head into the offseason knowing that everyone but Kelly will be returning. Four freshmen on the roster will be more seasoned, as will the entire team.
“I told the guys that I hope this loss hurts,” Arnold said. “Now it’s time to get to the gym and work really, really hard. The future is up to them.”
The Tiger Cubs have a date with Danville in the semifinals Friday, and the two teams are aware of each other, as Greencastle owns a 65-56 win over the Warriors earlier this season, one of Danville’s four losses.
“We have to be ready to play from the first second,” Rector said. “Danville is a great team. It was good to shoot well in a gym we had never been in, but that won’t matter a bit Friday. We got contributions from everyone tonight, and that is what we will need Friday.”