Senior staff writer
Perry Meridian and Southport opened the 45th annual Marion County girls basketball tourney last week by advancing to the quarterfinals. Both teams dominated their first-round opponents with the host Falcons downing Beech Grove 49-27 and the Cardinals thumping Brebeuf Jesuit 46-22 Dec. 4.
In quarterfinal action Dec. 5, Perry Meridian challenged Pike but lost 46-42, and Lawrence North dominated Southport 69-49.
“That (Pike) was an opportunity to play against a very good opponent,” Falcons coach Mike Armstrong said. “It gave us the opportunity to see where we are versus that kind of competition. If we are ever going to win the sectional, we have to beat Pike or Ben Davis or teams like that.”
Perry Meridian’s balanced attack paid off against Beech Grove as seniors Ariana Booker and Caitie Baird, junior Savannah Pipes and sophomore Sally Mortensen each scored eight points.
Beech Grove countered with nine points from senior Alexianna Blakely and eight from sophomore Tia O’Connor. The Falcons used a pressure defense, jumped to a 9-0 lead and never looked back. Perry extended the lead to 44-16 at the end of the third quarter.
“We wanted to come up strong at home and thought we could put a lot of pressure on them,” Armstrong said after the Beech Grove game. “They are fast with Crawford, and we defended well inside.”
Perry Meridian’s Sally Mortensen, recouping from an illness, and Lexi Dale, recovering from a concussion, did not start but combined for 17 points coming off the bench. The young Hornets (2-5) showed signs of improvement on offense when they were aggressive, but they were plagued by cold shooting, 9-of-36 for 25 percent.
Southport’s Lexie Green led the Cardinals against Brebeuf with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven steals. Junior Kayden Casey added nine points. The Cardinals led 14-2 at the end of first quarter. In other first-round games, No. 2 North Central defeated Roncalli 68-50, Decatur Central downed Franklin Central 42-32 and Park Tudor dominated Lutheran 54-36.
Elsewhere, Center Grove (8-2) extended its winning streak to seven games by defeating Bloomington South 47-40; Greenwood Christian (6-4) downed Edinburgh 59-43 for its fifth straight win. Upcoming games (7:30 p.m., unless noted)
Friday: Greenwood at Franklin, Roncalli at Brebeuf, Southwestern at Lutheran (6 p.m.). Saturday: Pike at Center Grove (1:30 p.m.), International at Greenwood Christian (1 p.m.), Perry Meridian at Whiteland (1:30 p.m.). Tuesday: Center Grove at Franklin Central.