NEW CASTLE — Silver Creek felt right at home in the nation’s largest high school gym Saturday night in New Castle.
The Class 3A No. 6 Dragons dominated Louisville Male from tip to the final horn for an 82-63 win in the 2019 Indiana-Kentucky Challenge Cup.
“I was super-pleased with the way we came aggressive and locked in [on] rebounding and on defense,” Silver Creek head coach Brandon Hoffman said. “We had 45 rebounds to their 23 and we kept our turnovers low. We only had four turnovers in the first half and we thought coming into today that if we took care of the ball and got the ball inside that we liked our chances.”
The Dragons (11-1) controlled every phase of the game and made a strong case that they might end up on the state’s biggest stage in March.
“Our goal is to go to state and hopefully we get used to big arenas like this,” said senior guard Zane Gross, who poured in 20 points and hit three triples. “We played total team basketball tonight. We had a lot of guys step up. I’m proud of how everyone stepped up and played well. It was just a great team win.”
Creek, which won its 13th straight game away from home, was led by its super sophomore Trey Kaufman. The versatile 6-foot-8 big man pumped in 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
“I think Trey was the best player on the court tonight, no question,” Hoffman said. “He’s doing a great job of being so efficient. He not only scores well, but finds open guys when he gets doubled. He’s getting better and better every week.”
In addition to Kaufman and Gross, Jack Hawkins had 14 points and Ty Kessinger added 10 for the Dragons, who shot 45.8 percent from the field, including 58.3 percent (7 for 12) from 3-point range.
“The beauty of this team is we have five guys on the court who can score, pass and defend,” Kaufman. “We played well tonight and we plan to continue getting better.”
Silver Creek bolted to a 14-5 lead midway through the opening frame and led 21-13 at the first stop. Kaufman and Gross combined for 14 in the first stanza.
“We knew they were good and we expected a tough, physical game,” Gross said. “We just came out from the start and matched their intensity and played awesome. I’m very proud of this team.”
The Dragons kept their foot on the gas in the second quarter, outscoring the Bulldogs 21-7 for a 42-20 halftime advantage. The first half, as well as the entire game, was rugged, as every pass and shot was contested.
“We didn’t drive two hours and 30 minutes to come up here and play soft,” said Kaufman, whose team collected 20 offensive rebounds. “It was a big point of emphasis to play as hard as we could and kill them in the paint.”
The closest Male could get in the second half was 56-40 early in the fourth period. Creek hit 21 of 27 free throws, including 9 of 12 in the final frame, to ensure its 11th win of the season.
“We didn’t come up here to just play good for one half,” Hoffman said. “We wanted to finish the game. We knew they were going to make a run. Overall I’m just really happy with the way we played. It’s nice to get to play in this venue against a really good team who will win a lot of games in Louisville.”
The Dragons next play at Brownstown Central (8-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday night in a huge Mid-Southern Conference game.
INDIANA-KENTUCKY CHALLENGE CUP
Saturday at New Castle
SILVER CREEK 82, MALE 63
Male 13 7 15 28—63
Silver Creek 21 21 12 28—82
Male (9-5): Cameron Pope 14, Tyren Moore 13, Jake Evans 12, Justin Bufford 6, Trent Findley 2, Noah Courtney 2, Howard Fleming 11, Richard White 1, Elijah Priest 2.
Silver Creek (11-1): Zane Gross 20, Jack Hawkins 14, Josh Landers 5, Ty Kessinger 10, Brandon Northern 2, Kooper Jacobi 9, Trey Kaufman 22.
3-point field goals: Male 10-27 (Fleming, Pope 2, Moore 3, Evans 2, Bufford 2); Silver Creek 7-12 (Kaufman, Gross 3, Hawkins, Kessinger 2).
Rebounds: Male 23, Silver Creek 45.
Turnovers: Male 18, Silver Creek 13.
Field-goal shooting: Male 19 of 48 (39.6%), Silver Creek 27 of 59 (45.8%).
Free-throw shooting: Male 15 of 16 (93.8%), Silver Creek 21 of 27 (77.8%).
~story provided by newsandtribune.com~