Southsider Voice correspondent
Franklin Central’s boys basketball team has done it again.
The Flashes have entered three consecutive 4A sectionals as an underdog and emerged as champions. In coach John Rockey’s first season, FC came in 9-10 and took home the sectional trophy. Last year the team was 11-10 record, won the sectional crown and reached the Seymour Regional championship game.
This time, Rockey’s underdogs walked into the Whiteland Sectional with a 5-15 record, defeated the hosts 66-59 and Franklin 78-47 and then avenged a 16-point loss to New Palestine with a 68-60 triumph to claim another sectional title.
“Our schedule prepares us for this; we played the ninth toughest schedule in the state,” Rockey said. “A lot of things came together late in the season when we beat Ben Davis and even when we lost to Roncalli in overtime. We’re the best 8-and-15 team in the state.”
Franklin Central ran into fiery hot New Pal, which hit 9-of-18 3-pointers for a 32-32 halftime deadlock.
“We got off to a slow start,” Rockey said. “We felt like we weathered the storm of nine threes, but we needed to get our ‘bigs’ out there to defend on the perimeter, too. It reminded me of an I.U.-Purdue game (because) we wanted to go inside, and they wanted to score from the outside.”
Marcus Burk wound up with 22 points for the Flashes, and Jimmy Weinke scored 14 while hitting 10-of-10 free throws. Rapidly improving sophomore Grant Pedigo added 14 points.
The Dragons hit 14 3-pointers and only one two-point field goal. FC was solid at the free throw line, hitting 24-of-27.
“We’re playing better defense,” Rockey said. “We’re running our offense better, and we’re sharing the ball. We only had two players who could score early in the season; now we’re waking up on offense. Burk is shooting well, and we’re able to get the ball into the post. We had six players score eight or more points against Franklin.”
The Flashes earned a return trip to the Seymour Regional for a 10 a.m. rematch Saturday against No. 6 Bloomington South (21-2), which dominated FC 86-65 in late January. Rockey said the Flashes played their worst defensive game of the season against the Panthers.
In Class A, Lutheran captured the Edinburgh Sectional by dismantling 2014 champion Greenwood Christian Academy 77-43. The red-hot Saints hit 15-of-30 shots in the first half and coasted to a 42-18 halftime lead for their third sectional title since 2008.
Size mattered in the matchup as 6-8 Blake Soberialski and Tyler Johnson led the Saints with 19 points each; Shane Miller added 12.
Lutheran (9-15) defeated Arlington 39-37 and upset Morristown 53-49 in overtime to reach the finale. Coach Tom Finchum’s Saints were fourth in Sagarin Rankings among the eight-team field.
Lutheran travels to the Martinsville Regional for a noon tip-off against Jac-Cen-Del (18-8).
Coach Jamie Satre’s Cougars (9-16), who will graduate five seniors, reached their second straight sectional title game by defeating Baptist Academy 58-47 and Morristown 80-69.
Manual (8-16) edged Ritter 78-74 in the 2A Attucks Sectional opener but fell to Triton Central 61-53 in the semifinals.
Beech Grove (8-14), Whiteland Sectional favorite Center Grove (13-10), Greenwood (3-21), Roncalli (15-7) and Perry Meridian (12-10) dropped sectional openers.
Perry Meridian’s Dylan Windler scored 27 of the Falcons’ 40 points against Pike. The 6-7 sharpshooter averaged 27.3 points per game, fourth in the state.
Roncalli junior Jimmy King scored 34 points against Lawrence Central and upped his single-season record to 536 points. King is the third Rebel to score more than 1,000 career points.
Center Grove downed New Palestine 68-54 in early December but could not overcome two second-half surges by the Dragons last week. The Trojans closed to 49-46 but could get no closer.