By Al Stilley
Greenwood Christian Academy and Center Grove came from behind Saturday to win IHSAA boys’ basketball sectional championship trophies. The Cougars (15-10) scored the winning basket on Styles McCorkle’s 3-footer on a rebound feed by teammate Payton Modlin with 8.8 seconds left in the 1A Lutheran sectional title game.
GCA’s only previous sectional title came in 2014. GCA advances to play defending state champion Morristown (22-4) Saturday in the 10 am. regional opener at Martinsville At Center Grove, the host Trojans were forced by Franklin’s defense to play “stall ball” on their way to a 29-28 sectional title win in overtime as Mr. Basketball candidate 6-9 Trayce Jackson-Davis scored 25 points.
CG’s third consecutive title is a program record and 15th overall. The Trojans meet Jasper in the 10 a.m. regional game at Seymour. At Lutheran, GCA trailed Providence Cristo Ray 42-31 with slightly more than 4 minutes left. The Cougars defense forced key turnovers and went on an 8-0 run in a 90-second charge. Modlin’s steal and layup cut it to 48-47.
The Wolves missed two free throws that set up the Cougars final possessions. Afterward, GCA coach Jonny Marlin praised the Cougars for not giving up and for maturing on the court as the regular season progressed. The Cougars advanced to the title game by defeating Tindley 53-37 and rival Lutheran 54-49. Center Grove overcame slowdowns by underdogs Greenwood (32-22) and Franklin Central (48-42) to face rival Franklin for the third time this season.
Drawing Jackson-Davis to defend on the perimeter against a balanced offense, the Grizzly Cubs led at halftime 19-11. The Trojans switched defenses that led to a 25-25 deadlock after four tension-filled quarters as Franklin missed a good look at a winning shot. Jackson-Davis’ dunk was the game-winner with less than 2 minutes left in OT.
In the Perry Meridian sectional, Decatur Central ousted the host Falcons, 46-35 and Southport’s upset bid against Marion County champion Pike fell short, 75-61. Roncalli jumped to a 17-6 lead against DC in the semifinal round as soph Anthony Donohue scored 8 points and Jacob Denney 7 points. The Hawks recovered for a 17-16 lead that they never gave up. However, the Rebels closed to 55-51 on Aiden Looney’s 3 with 40 seconds left.