Senior staff writer
Basketball teams from Franklin Central, Roncalli, Perry Meridian, Beech Grove and resurgent Manual won tournaments over the Christmas break.
Franklin Central (8-1) is off to its fastest start under fourth-year coach John Rockey after claiming the prestigious Bob Wettig Memorial Tournament Dec. 30. The Flashes jumped to a 20-3 first-quarter lead over Bedford North Lawrence and coasted to a 72-43 victory.
Four Flashes scored in double figures: Marcus Burk, 18 points, Antoyne Jackson, 14, and Jimmy Weinke and Grant Pedigo, 11 points each.
Franklin Central reached the title game after defeating Tindley 71-53, Fort Wayne North 78-70 and Warren Central 83-68. The Flashes played four games in three days in the 16-team field.
FC started 6-3 under Rockey in 2013-14 and was since 8-1 under Mark James in 2008-2009.
Perry Meridian (4-5) won the Shelbyville tourney Dec. 29 by defeating the host Golden Bears 52-51 and then upending Westfield 33-28.
After winning two of its first seven games, Beech Grove (4-5) capped its holiday season Saturday by upsetting tourney host New Palestine 60-52 and downing Tri-West 75-63.
Manual (8-1), under former Marshall coach Donnie Bowling, dominated the Edinburgh tournament Dec. 28 and 29 by defeating Trinity Lutheran 77-60, Edinburgh 89-63 and Hagerstown 62-47. The Redskins are off on their best start in more than 20 years and have already equaled the eight wins by last year’s team.
Courvosier Mccully, a 6-4 junior, opened the tourney with 42 points against Tindley and then scored 24 points against Edinburgh and 23 points against Hagerstown. Cameron Sembly, a 6-5 junior, added 16 points, and 5-10 senior Keshawn Bess added 13 points in the championship game, during which 6-10 senior Tristan Popa snaed 12 rebounds and blocked six shots.
Up-and-down Roncalli (5-4) may have discovered its go-to player in winning its two-game holiday tourney championship Dec. 23.
The Rebels held Franklin County scoreless in the final 3 1/2 minutes to win the opener 50-45 and then held on against furious full-court pressure to defeat Floyd Central 54-49 in the title game.
Junior guard Christian Stewart led the Rebels in each game with 14 points against Franklin County and 15 points against Floyd Central, coached by former University of Indianapolis coach Todd Sturgeon.
“Points are going to be hard to come by,” Roncalli coach Michael Wantz said in his preseason assessment.
Almost each point scored by Stewart was in the clutch.
In the opener, Stewart scored eight points in the crucial fourth quarter as the Rebels came from four points down (46-42) for a five-point win. In the nightcap he hit three consecutive 3-pointers for a 40-31 lead over the Highlanders, coached by former University of Indianapolis coach Todd Sturgeon.
The Rebels had a balanced scoring attack with Bryson Meek adding 12 points and Andrew Fey and 6-10 junior Collin Sonderman chipping in eight apiece against Franklin County. Fey had 12 points against Floyd Center, and Meek and Sonderman added nine and eight points, respectively.
Center Grove shows progress
Center Grove (4-3) defeated Perry Meridian 52-47 and Greenwood 64-40 during the holiday season.
The Trojans closed with solid defense and rebounding to preserve a five-point lead against the Falcons in the final 87 seconds Dec. 22, overcoming the pitfalls of missing 8-of-12 free throws in that span.
“When you have 10 new players out of 13, it takes some time for them to adjust and figure things out,” said Hahn, a former Butler University standout. “For us to get a win in a close game, it was great because we had to compete and make plays at the end. We contested their shots, and we closed out on defense.”
Center Grove limited the Falcons to 3-of-13 shooting from the field in the fourth quarter.
The Trojans were led by 6-6 freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis, 12 points and eight rebounds, and 6-5 classmate Lucas Doyle, eight points and four rebounds.
Perry Meridian’s Nate Davis, a 6-5 junior, scored a game-high 20 points.
In a rivalry game at Greenwood, the Trojans broke up a close game by dominating the second half 39-20.
“Our guys played extremely hard and executed offensively and defensively really well,” Hahn said. “Overall, we took really good shots and that really helps. Defensively, we have started to step it up and offensively we’re getting the ball to guys in the right position.”
Ten players scored for the Trojans, with Jackson-Davis leading with 14 points and Bailey Barrett adding 10. Led by Travis Roehling, Center Grove outrebounded Greenwood, 33-17. The Trojans hit 25-of-48 from the field (52.1 percent), while Greenwood was a frigid 12-of-41, 29.5 percent.
The Woodmen entered the outing on a three-game winning streak after defeating Beech Grove 59-49.
Greenwood snared a 10-9 lead on Eric Moenkaus’ drive to the basket to end the first quarter. It was the last time the Woodmen had the lead, although they pulled to 21-19 on drives by sophomores Max Raker and Braydon Kincaid.
“A game like this exposed or weaknesses,” Greenwood coach Bruce Hensley said. “We self-inflicted, made too many floor mistakes, didn’t make shots, and we let that bother us. Then we don’t defend. We have to toughen up mentally and physically.”
Kincaid scored a team-high 12 points for the Woodmen.
Upcoming games (all at 7:30 p.m.): Friday – Franklin Central at Southport, Beech Grove at Roncalli, Center Grove at Carmel, Attucks at Greenwood Christian, Lutheran at Trinity Lutheran, Washington at Manual, Terre Haute South at Perry Meridian; Saturday – Greenwood at Whiteland, Shortridge at Greenwood Christian, Lutheran at Edinburgh.