Times Sports Editor
SULLIVAN -- The Class 2A ninth-ranked Sullivan Golden Arrows remained in the Western Indiana Conference drivers' seat in both the boys and girls' races with victories over the Northview Knights on Friday evening. The boys captured a 74-51 victory to improve to 3-0 in the WIC and 15-2 overall and the Lady Arrows won a 43-26 decision to boost their WIC mark to 5-0.
While both Arrows teams won, the squads did so in dramatically different ways.
The Northview girls held the Arrows to an 0-13 performance from beyond the arc so Sullivan pounded the ball inside to 6'2 junior Rhagen Smith, who scored 19 of her 27 points in the second half. The Sullivan boys' team nailed nine 3-pointers in picking up the victory against the Knights.
Northview boys' coach Ernie Maesch was somewhat surprised in Sullivan's shooting performance after watching the Arrows come up empty in a loss to Vincennes Lincoln on Jan. 14.
"(Sullivan) didn't make those shots against Vincennes. They missed every one of them as a matter of fact and Vincennes beat them," Maesch said. "Tonight, playing at home, they are going to shoot better. Two guys made nine threes between them. We defended how we wanted to do it, those guys made the shots. If we go out and get into them, then Rhett Smith is going to score 30 inside. They made the shots, hats off to them."
Much of that credit has to go to sophomore guard Brooks Weszely, who started in place of the injured Kaleb Pirtle, the Arrows' second-leading scorer. All Weszely did was nail five 3-pointers, score Sullivan's first 10 points of the game and top his season scoring average by 19 points.
With Pirtle sidelined, Weszely stepped in and nailed two quick 3-pointers to start the game as Sullivan lead 10-0 just two minutes into the game.
However, the Knights battled their way back thanks to Craig Peters' ability to drive to the basket. The junior had six of his team-high 16 points in the opening quarter as Northview began to claw its way back into contention.
"We fought back, had it cut to five points a couple of times with the ball. We just need to make more plays and get the ball into the hole a little more. (Sullivan) had guys knocking down threes left and right," Maesch said.
Sullivan began to pull away while continuing a torrid shooting pace in the third quarter.
James Lisman drilled a pair of 3-pointers to push the lead to 46-31 and Caleb Turner added a three-point play after a bucket by the Knights' Chance Talbot.
Peters got the Knights within 49-36 with a 3-pointer and a pair of field goals from Jim Mace got Northview within 55-43 heading to the fourth quarter.
From there, however, Sullivan finished strong by hitting 6-of-7 shots from the field and Northview struggled to find its scoring touch in the final stanza.
Weszely put the final touches on a 25-point game with his final 3-pointer and Smith capped a 17-point game with three more points as Sullivan outscored the Knights 19-8 in the fourth.
"We're struggling a little bit getting the ball in the hole. I thought (Jacob) Ninesling played well, I thought Daniel Kimball played well for us at times," Maesch said. "Craig Peters had a really good game for us driving the ball to the hole. He's finding a way to put the ball in the basket and we need that. We just need to get more defensive stops."
Ninesling and Mace each had eight points for the Knights and Reynolds tallied seven.
In the girls' game, the Knights played perhaps its best defensive game of the year in limiting Sullivan to just 16 points in the first half on 5-of-20 shooting from the field.
The Knights led late in the half at 10-9 as Cassie Weddle had six of her team-high 10 points and freshman Mallory Smith helped hold Rhagen Smith to just six shot attempts and eight points before halftime.
Sullivan's defense proved to be a turning point in the final three minutes of the second quarter, forcing three five-second calls and a 10-second call while Caelan Jones scored twice late in the half to put Sulivan ahead 16-12 at the break. The Knights' Ashley Hughes runner at the buzzer gave Northview a bit of momentum heading into intermission.
"Sullivan is an outstanding team," Northview girls' coach Scott Buell said. "I told our girls that (Sullivan) could be playing at Hulman Center (in the state title game) in a few weeks. Defensively we played really well. Fortunately for us, Sullivan wasn't hitting their outside shots and that allowed us to keep it packed in."
Sullivan began to work the ball into the post to Smith in the second half as she made her presence felt quickly on a nice move for two points to start the third period. Whitney Halfhill answered with a jumper for Northview as the Knights continued to go toe-to-toe with the Arrows.
Scores by Smith and Jones were answered by Sierra Girton and Hughes and the Knights were within 30-23 at the end of the quarter as McKenzi Kumpf hit a jumper and Weddle drilled a 3-pointer.
The fourth quarter was decisive however as Smith began to wear down the younger Knights, scoring 11 of Sullivan's 13 points in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Knights scored just one bucket down the stretch, a field goal by Abby Timberman.
"We did a pretty good job of rebounding. (Sullivan) is just so big and strong that they are hard to keep off the boards the entire game," Buell said. "We got a little worn down at the end, but overall I can't fault how we played. I thought for three quarters we played really well."
The Northview girls are back in action Jan. 31 at Plainfield while the boys are off until a Feb. 9 trip to South Putnam.
Hyatt 1-5 1-2 3, Peters 7-13 0-1 16, Reynolds 3-13 0-0 7, Ninesling 4-5 0-0 8, Pestoff 1-1 0-0 2, Talbot 1-1 0-0 2, Mace 4-5 0-0 8, Kimball 1-1 2-2 4, Ball 0-3 1-2 1, Hakman 0-0 0-0 0, Ellis 0-1 0-0 0, Clark 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22-49 4-7 51.
Lisman 4-7 2-2 14, Smith 8-15 1-2 17, Marx 0-2 0-0 0, Weszely 8-9 4-6 25, Turner 3-4 1-1 7, Ellett 1-3 0-3 3, Bement 2-2 0-0 4, Kinnaman 1-1 0-0 2, Gregory 0-0 2-2 2, N.Pirtle 0-1 0-0 0, Hutchcraft 0-0 0-0 0, Willis 0-0 0-0 0. 27-43 11-17 74.
3-point fieldgoals -- Nv 3-10 (Peters 2-5, Reynolds 1-1, Hyatt 0-2, Clark 0-1, Ellis 0-1), SL 8-17 (Lisman 4-6, Weszely 5-6, Smith 0-3, Marx 0-1, Turner 0-2). Total Rebounds -- Nv 29 (Mace 6, Reynolds 5), SL 25 (Turner 4). Total Fouls -- Nv 19, SL 10. Turnovers -- Nv 13, SL 3.
Halfhill 1-2 0-2 2, Timberman 3-5 0-0 6, Hughes 2-5 0-0 4, Girton 1-3 0-0 2, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Kumpf 1-1 0-0 2, Weddle 4-7 1-2 10, Barrett 0-0 0-0 0, Fagg 0-0 0-0 0, Buell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 12-26 1-4 26.
C.Jones 5-12 0-3 10, Gilham 0-5 0-0 0, Chapman 0-2 0-0 0, Walters 1-6 0-0 2, Smith 10-16 7-9 27, Whitlock 0-0 0-0 0, Harrison 1-3 2-2 4, Bennett 0-0 0-0 0, Walters 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 17-45 9-14 43.
3-point fieldgoals -- Nv 1-6 (Weddle 1-3, Timberman 0-1, Hughes 0-1, Girton 0-1), SL 0-13 (Jones 0-6, Gilham 0-4, Whitlock 0-1, Walters 0-1, Chapman 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Nv 23 (Girton 8), SL 23 (Smith 7). Total Fouls -- Nv 10, SL 8. Turnovers -- Nv 30, SL 14.