The Sullivan Golden Arrows have been sinking in a hurry over the month of January. After a 4-1 start heading into the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic Tournament, Sullivan has lost seven of their last nine contests including a pair last weekend to Clay City and Princeton to drop to 6-7 overall and 1-0 in the WIC.
This weekend the Arrows get a shot at redemption against one of the teams that started their precipitous losing streak, the Northview Knights.
On Dec. 26 the Golden Arrows found that Santa Claus had left them coal in their stocking as the Knights spoiled the Arrows' tournament opener with a 62-44 decision.
In that game the Knights got a game-high 30 points and eight rebounds from Zach Keyes as they turned a 31-28 third quarter deficit into an 18 point win.
Much of the reason for that win was Northview's pesky defense that forced 17 first half turnovers and contributed largely to a 21-2 third quarter run that put the game out of reach for Sullivan. The Knights also held Sullivan to just 33 percent shooting and 29 total turnovers. They'll have to get back into that defensive rhythm if they are going to get their 15th win in 16 games and clinch the WIC title this weekend.
The Knights have struggled defensively of late.
Despite going 2-1 over their last three games, the Knights have had two close calls in those wins.
Last Saturday versus Brown County, the Eagles hit 48 percent (29-of-61) shots from the field including eight-of-19 3-pointers. The Knights only forced 13 turnovers as they prevailed in two overtimes 81-79.
The week before against South Vermillion they defeated the Wildcats 86-62, but needed a 34-13 fourth quarter advantage to get that win.
That win came on the heels of the Knights' only loss of the season, 72-69, versus Terre Haute South. A game in which they allowed the Braves to shoot a scalding 61 percent (27-of-44) from the field and hit 50 percent (seven-of-14) from beyond the arc.
So the Knights will have to ratchet up their defensive pressure as their schedule begins to pick up near the end of the regular season.
With games against Plainfield (11-3), a tough White River Valley club, 10-3 Fountain Central, and Putnam County neighbors Greencastle and South Putnam, the Knights must toughen their defense in preparation for the postseason.
Tipoff at Sullivan High School will be 6:30 p.m. for the junior varsity.