SELLERSBURG — Host Silver Creek controlled much of its matchup against Class 4A No. 6 Bloomington South on Saturday night, but the Dragons committed six of their 17 turnovers in the fourth quarter and fell to the Panthers 43-36.
“It was really two good defensive efforts, and the team that made the most mistakes was going to lose that game,” Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman said. “I thought our defense was incredible for the whole night. It was super difficult to manufacture points, so it came down to who was going to blink first, and we made some big mistakes in crunch time.”
The Class 3A No. 10 Dragons (12-4) took their first lead of the contest, 5-4, after junior guard Zane Gross nailed a 3-pointer with 2:26 to play in the first quarter. A minute later, Gross hit another one and Silver Creek led 8-4 at the first stop.
Freshman Trey Kaufman scored in the low post on Silver Creek’s first possession of the second quarter and Gross followed with two free throws to give the Dragons their largest lead of the game, 12-4, with 6:55 remaining in the first half.
The Panthers (17-2) did their best to try and peck away at the margin, but they were only able to convert 3 of 17 shots during the first half and went 0 for 7 from 3-point range. Phillip King’s shot attempt at the halftime buzzer was blocked by Kaufmann, and the Dragons entered the locker room with a 16-11 lead.
Kaufman, at 6-foot-5, presented some major matchup problems on the offensive and defensive ends for the Panthers.
“He’s not much of a secret anymore,” Hoffman said of the freshman forward, who finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. “The kids trust in him, and he’s going to keep getting better.”
Bloomington South kept chipping away at the lead through the third quarter before Noah Jager’s 3-pointer with 7:18 to play gave the Panthers their first lead since early in the first quarter. Anthony Leal followed with a dunk to increase the margin to 25-22.
Another freshman, Kooper Jacobi, knotted the contest back up with a three-point play. The two teams swapped the lead two more times before the Panthers rattled off six consecutive points — on two free throws from Leal, two more from Chance Coyle and a steal and layup by Coyle. That brief run affectively ended the contest.
“There are a few plays that we’d like to have back, but that’s why we play these games, and this tough schedule,” Hoffman said. “These are games you learn from and use to get better.”
Leal led Bloomington South with 20 points. He was 10 for 10 from the free throw line for the Panthers, who only missed one foul shot all night.
Gross matched Kaufman’s 10 points for Silver Creek.
The Dragons go back to Mid-Southern Conference play Thursday night, when they host Salem.
BLOOMINGTON SOUTH 43, SILVER CREEK 36
Bloomington South 4 7 9 23—43
Silver Creek 8 8 6 14—36
Bloomington South (17-2): Chance Coyle 12, Anthony Leal 20, Phillip King 4, Noah Jager 5, Chris Bomba 0, Adam Graham 0, Connor Hickman 2, Will Stockman 0.
Silver Creek (12-4): Zane Gross 10, Jack Hawkins 6, Bennett Beyl 0, Jacob Garrett 0, Sammy Barnett 2, Ty Kessinger 3, Kooper Jacobi 5, Trey Kaufman 10, Hunter Popp 0, Josh Landers 0.
3-point goals: Bloomington South 2 (Jager, Coyle); Silver Creek 5 (Gross 2, Kaufman 2, Hawkins).
Rebounds: Bloomington South 20 (Bomba 5); Silver Creek 26 (Kaufman 5, Jacobi 5).
Free throws: Bloomington South 17-18, Silver Creek 14-19.
Turnovers: Bloomington South 8, Silver Creek 17.
JV Score: Silver Creek – 48 Bloomington South – 53
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