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By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Beech Grove played its most prolific game of the season Friday against Manual to reach the sectional championship game Saturday at The Hive.
In the regular season the Hornets came from behind to edge the Redskins 58-57 in December on Jaylyn Curry’s last-second 3-pointer.
The rematch was not nearly as dramatic as the Hornets attacked early and rolled to a 75-58 win.
Beech Grove coach Matt English, who praised his team’s togetherness all season, said the Hornets reached a “new level” against the taller Redskins (14-10).
Beech Grove started out hitting 70 percent from the field and kept its offense moving while handcuffing Manual’s high-powered offense. Junior Gavin Hess led the way with 23 points; seniors Jalyn Curry and Kenny Washington scored 20 and 15 points, respectively. The Hornets jumped to a 24-13 lead in the first quarter and led 35-25 at halftime.
In the championship game, Beech Grove and Danville battled nearly even for three quarters before the Warriors pulled away for a 67-52 victory.
Danville opened an early 14-6 lead, but the Hornets clawed back to tie it at 24 on Washington’s driving layup before falling behind 31-26 at the half.
Washington’s baseline layup, the Hornets’ only field goal in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, cut Danville’s lead to 42-41.
Then the Hornets’ title hopes slipped away as the Warriors went on 10-0 run – two 3-pointers and then four points after a technical foul for taunting by a Beech Grove player after blocking a shot.
The Hornets, who finished 19-6 and won the Indiana Crossroads championship, will graduate Washington, Curry, 6-7 Jomar Seals, Dustin Fults and Jaylyn Fryar.
“The seniors will be hard to replace on the floor, but their impact off the floor had a much more profound impact on our program,” Beech Grove coach Matt English said. “It was a really fun group, and each individual brought something different to the dynamic. They were closely connected; if you saw one of them away from the court, usually all five of them were together.”
Roncalli reached Friday’s semifinals of the Ben Davis sectional but lost 45-32 to the Giants. The Rebels trailed 19-15 at the half. The Giants’ 6-7 Dawand Jones scored eight of his team’s 12 points in the third period as the Rebels were held scoreless.
The Rebels won their first-round game in a nail-biter against Southport, 53-48.
Roncalli finished with an 18-7 record and its first Circle City championship. The Rebels will graduate eight seniors.
Southside teams that lost in the first round and their records: Greenwood Christian (13-10), Southport (7-15) and Franklin Central, Perry Meridian and Lutheran, each 4-18.