Senor staff writer
Southport’s boys’ basketball team under first-year coach Eric Brand is on a roll. The Cardinals entered the Marion County tourney Tuesday with a four-game winning streak that was capped by wins Friday at Franklin Central, 45-36, and Saturday at New Palestine, 48-46.
Earlier the Cardinals were 2-4 before upending Brownsburg in the Southport Fieldhouse and going on the road to dominate Bloomington South by 15 points. Brand joined the Cardinals after guiding South Bend Riley through an unbeaten regular season last year but lost to Carmel in the 4A IHSAA championship game. Senior Chaz Hinds, who scored a game-high 21 points against No. 10 Brownsburg, contends that Brand is a good fit.
“We’ve bought into him and he’s bought into us,” the 6-8 Hinds said. “He wants us to be the toughest team on the court, and to want to win more than our opponent. We’re lucky to have him.”
The Cardinals latest Southside win at Franklin Central wasn’t pretty. The winless Flashes turned the game into a grinder with Southport leading 11-9 at halftime. Southport put together an 8-0 run with Brevin Jefferson scoring six points and Hinds adding a dunk for a commanding 29-20 lead.
“We haven’t won pretty, but we are starting to learn how to grind it out,” Brand said Friday. “We’re trying to push in the same direction, and we’re getting results.”
Jefferson led the Cards with 18 points and Brian Miller added 10 points against New Palestine. Southport (6-4) met Lutheran (4-5) in the county tourney opener Tuesday with the winner meeting the Franklin Central (0-10)-Perry Meridian (6-5) winner Wednesday. Southport is host for the semifinals Friday at 6 p.m. and the championship game Saturday at 7 p.m. No. 7 Center Grove (9-4) fell to a ranked opponent Friday for the third time as No. 2 Carmel downed the Trojans, 47-37.
The match-up pitted Indiana University commit 6-9 Trayce Jackson-Davis against 6-10 Butler University commit John Michael Mulloy, each scoring 10 points. Poor shooting doomed the host Trojans, 13 of 33 field goals and 7 of 17 free throws. Although CG defeated visiting Greenwood, 60-44, during the holiday break, the Trojans suffered from cold shooting then.
“We have missed a lot of wide-open shots and lay-ups,” CG coach Zach Hahn said. “We talk about playing ‘four minutes’ all the time. If you win your four-minute battles, you will win the game most of the time.”
In the Hall of Fame Classic finale, the Trojans lost to No. 1 Warren Central for the second time this season in overtime, 5250. Jackson-Davis had a game-high 23 points. Greenwood Christian Academy (6-5) and Perry Meridian (6-5) also reached title games in tourneys before losing.