Senior staff writer
Southport, Roncalli and Perry Meridian warmed up for this week’s boys basketball tournament by winning their final regular season games on Friday’s senior nights at the schools.
Joey Brunk led six Southport seniors with a career-high 33 points to lead the Cardinals past Lawrence Central 78-69.
Simpson praised the 6-10 Butler recruit by contending, “He has faced all kinds of defenses, double and triple teamed, and really gets banged around, pushed and shoved in there when we have the ball.”
The Cardinals (17-6) locked down the Bears early with a 16-4 first-quarter lead. Southport held a 57-42 lead before closing out the win with free throws in the fourth quarter.
“Every team is at 0-0 when the tourney starts,” Simpson said recently.
Brunk and seniors Luke Johnston, Evan Higgs, Elijah Walton, Kyle Williams and David Reyes were honored Friday.
Perry Meridian (9-14) rallied in the fourth quarter and defeated Mooresville 58-49 with Brandon Perry, Gabe Patterson and Nate Mills each scoring in double figures. The Falcons snapped a four-game losing skid and graduate Jackson Gambrall, Austin Barker and Dusty Baird.
Roncalli, bolstered by a thrilling 67-66 upset against Franklin Central, waits until Friday for its sectional debut at 6 p.m. against the Southport-Tech winner at Southport Fieldhouse, with Decatur Central facing the Perry Meridian/Ben Davis winner at 7:30 p.m.
Franklin Central meets the Martinsville/Greenwood winner in the Martinsville Sectional at 7:30 p.m.
Honoring lone senior Andrew Fey, the Rebels downed the Flashes by hitting 28-of-29 free throws, including junior Christian Stewart’s two with 2.2 seconds left in the game. Stewart scored a team-high 24 points.
Hitting each of his 16 free throw attempts, Stewart said, “That was routine, especially at the end; I go to the line, bounce the basketball, look up and shoot. I was just glad that we got the win (because) we’ve lost some close ones.”
Coach Michael Wantz emphasized free throws after the Rebels hit only 12-of-21 in a 70-68 loss Feb. 19 to Decatur Central.
“I thought our guys were caught up in the emotion of senior night,” Wantz said. “We finally settled down, had a great second quarter, and defended the heck out of them during the second half.We had some good luck at the end.”
The Rebels led 65-60 with 26 seconds left, but FC came back to take a one-point lead with 5.8 seconds left on 3-pointers by Marcus Burk and Jimmy Weinke. They shared scoring honors with 24 points each.
Stewart began to drive with the ball but Franklin Central was called for a questionable foul that put the 6-2 junior point guard on the free throw line.
“We should have rebounded and defended better,” FC coach John Rockey said. “They hit some key shots (but) that last call was not a foul.”
The 33rd rivalry game between the neighboring teams was tied five times in front of a capacity crowd. The Flashes won the battle of the boards 27-24 but committed 17 turnovers compared to only 10 miscues by the Rebels.
In sectional action today, Beech Grove hosts Washington at 7:30 p.m., and Manual meets Marshall at New Palestine, also at 7:30 p.m. At Edinburgh Friday, Greenwood Christian plays the Morristown/Central Christian winner at 6 p.m.
All sectional championship games are Saturday at 7:30 p.m.