Senior staff writer
With starting lineups that featured no seniors, Franklin Central and Southport squared off Friday in a boys basketball duel at Southport Fieldhouse.
Both teams entered the historic fieldhouse looking for a much-needed win.
The Cardinals led 56-24 with 80 seconds left in the third quarter and hung on to win 75-60.
Both coaches, Southport’s Kyle Simpson and Franklin Central’s John Rockey, were perplexed but positive when leaving the fieldhouse.
“I was pleased with what I saw to start the game because that’s the team I think we are capable of being,” Simpson said. “When we are consistent, good things happen. We showed that consistency most of the game and won a conference and rivalry game, so we’ll take it and move on.”
Simpson, in his sixth year at the helm, did not like seeing the Cardinals’ massive lead reduced to 14 points with four and one-half minutes to go. “We showed that we could play for three quarters and could play defense, but then it became ‘me’ ball. We got sloppy, quit attacking, quit sharing the ball. At least we figured it out and pushed back.”
Southport led 34-16 at halftime.
“I’m not sure what happened that first half,” Rockey said. “I was happy with the way we were playing (trailing 16-14) and then Southport went on that (15-point) run. They hit some shots and we just crumpled in the second quarter.”
Talking about the Flashes’ late-game spurt, Rockey said, “It gave us something positive to talk about. We needed a third quarter like we had in the fourth quarter, and that would have given us a chance.”
Southport upped its lead to 43-16 in the first three minutes of the third quarter before FC’s Alan Cox hit a 3-pointer.
Three juniors led Southport: Breven Jefferson, 21 points, 6-8 Chaz Hinds 17 points and Brian Miller 11 points. Southport hit 28-of-52 field goal attempts (53.8 percent), while the Flashes connected on only 18-of-51 (35.2 percent). The Cardinals hit a dozen 3-pointers.
Freshman Mason Gonzales had 12 points for FC; 6-7 junior Alan Cox and sophomore Isiah Morgan each had 11; and 6-5 junior Eric Kolp scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter.
Southport is 3-6 and 2-1 in Conference Indiana; FC dropped to 3-9 and 1-2 in the league.
The Marion and Johnson county boys basketball tournaments are underway.
The Marion County tourney continues tonight at eight sites. If Perry Meridian, Lutheran, Roncalli or Franklin Central won Tuesday’s first round, then those teams play at home tonight. Winners advance to Friday’s semifinals at 6 and 7:30 p.m. at Southport Fieldhouse; the championship game tips at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Johnson County tourney also opened Tuesday. Winners advance to Friday’s semifinals at 6 and 7:45 p.m. at Center Grove with the title game at 7:45 p.m. Saturday.
No. 10 Center Grove is the favorite although the Trojans fell at Carmel 73-64 with 6-9 Trayce Jackson-Davis scoring 33 points. Greenwood defeated visiting Whiteland 57-44 Friday in a Mid-State game; the two teams met again Tuesday in the tourney.
Greenwood Christian Academy warmed up for its first county tourney appearance by defeating Shortridge 82-62 Saturday.
Center Grove upended visiting Whiteland 55-47 with Cassidy Hardin and Ella Thompson scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Beech Grove defeated Roncalli 62-55.
Greenwood Christian had a big week. The Cougars (10-6) pulled away from an 18-18 halftime tie for a 40-28 win Jan. 3 against visiting Lutheran. Freshman Izzy Reed led GCA with 12 points. Then the Cougars hit the road Saturday and defeated longtime nemesis Hauser 44-25 with Alexis Mead scoring 14 and Grace Peters 12.
Manual dominated Washington 102-38 after leading 55-18 at halftime. Led by Azhure Shotwell’s 24 points, the Redskins had five players in double figures.