RAMSEY — Just call it the “Orange Squeeze.”
For the second night in a row, Silver Creek put its sectional opponent on lockdown.
A little more than 24 hours after holding Scottsburg to a single basket in the second quarter of the Class 3A North Harrison Sectional semifinals, the Dragons duplicated the effort in the championship against the host Cougars as they rallied to claim their fourth sectional title in five years.
Eighth-ranked Silver Creek erased an eight-point deficit and outscored North Harrison 25-7 in the middle two periods on its way to a 50-37 win in Saturday night’s sectional final.
“[It] never gets old,” a smiling Dragons coach Brandon Hoffman said afterward. “For me, I know it doesn’t and I sure hope it doesn’t for them.”
Creek found itself down 17-9 at the end of the first quarter when Eli Gutknecht drilled a deep 3 from the wing as the buzzer sounded.
That’s when the Dragon D took over.
North Harrison scored just two points in the second period and went more than 8 minutes of game time without a point over the second and third frames. Creek outscored the Cougars 18-2 during that span before Langdon Hatton’s basket 5 minutes into the second half.
“After that first quarter it could have been a long night,” Silver Creek senior Sammy Barnett said. “We just said, ‘Let’s not go home like this tonight. Let’s do what we do out here and get it back under control.’”
Junior guard Zane Gross tallied a team-high 13 points, 11 in the second half, while Barnett added 12, going 8 for 8 from the free throw line, for the Dragons (19-5), who will face host Southridge (12-13) at noon Saturday in the second game of the Southridge Regional. Third-ranked Evansville Bosse (22-4) will face Greensburg (20-5) in the opener. The championship is slated for 8 p.m. that night.
Jack Hawkins and Trey Kaufman both hit a pair of 3s and scored eight points apiece, while freshman Kooper Jacobi totaled seven for Silver Creek, which won its sixth straight game.
“It can be a lot of guys for us,” Gross said. “We have different ways and different guys who can step up and score when we need somebody.”
Hoffman said that depth helped his squad pull away over the final three quarters.
“We just know we’ve got a lot of different guys we can put out there to contribute,” Hoffman said. “Sammy was great tonight. Jacob Garrett was great tonight. Jack hit big shots for us. Kooper came off the bench and got the offense going. [North Harrison] had a tough one [Friday] night against Brownstown and we were able to just keep guys coming in, leaning on them with different players, and it ended up playing to our advantage.”
While his team cut nets in the background, Hoffman took a moment to reflect on the historic significance of the squad’s fourth title in five seasons.
“We had a 30-year stretch at Silver Creek where we won the sectional once,” Hoffman said. “A lot of great players at Silver Creek haven’t had this opportunity, so I just want the guys to get an appreciation for what it means to win in this tournament and what it means to the fans and all the former players they represent. I’m happy, I’m proud and I’m excited to see what we can do as we move on.”
SILVER CREEK 50, NORTH HARRISON 37
Silver Creek 9 11 14 16—50
North Harrison 17 2 5 13—37
Silver Creek (19-5): Zane Gross 5 3-4 18, Jack Hawkins 2 2-2 8, Bennett Beyl 0 0-0 0, Sammy Barnett 2 8-8 12, Jacob Garrett 0 0-0 0, Ty Kessinger 1 0-0 2, Josh Landers 0 0-0 0, Trey Kaufman 2 2-4 8, Kooper Jacobi 2 3-4 7. Totals 14 18-22 50.
North Harrison (17-9): Max Flock 3 0-0 7, Jake Book 2 1-1 5, Quinn Kaiser 0 0-2 0, Braden Jenkins 3 0-2 6, Skyler Wetzel 3 1-2 8, Eli Gutknecht 2 0-0 6, Jake Harley 1 0-0 2, Langdon Hatton 1 1-3 3. Totals 15 3-10 37.
3-point field goals: Silver Creek 4 (Hawkins 2, Kaufman 2); North Harrison 4 (Gutknecht 2, Flock, Wetzel).
Total fouls: Silver Creek 15, North Harrison 20.
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