Plainfield — Tournament upsets have always been a part of the Hoosier Hysteria high school basketball tradition, and Terre Haute North learned that — much to its chagrin — on Friday.
The heavily favored Patriots, who built a quick lead and seemed to be coasting home for awhile, never stopped coasting and were overtaken in a 33-31 stunner by Martinsville in the opening semifinal game of the Class 4A Plainfield Sectional.
The Artesians, now just 5-16 for the season, come back tonight to play Terre Haute South; the Braves handled Northview 66-45 in Friday’s second game.
That the Braves won by 21 points against one of their traditional rivals was surprising, but the North loss had most of the crowd Friday — probably even some of the Martinsville crowd — in total disbelief.
North had started slowly in its Tuesday victory over Plainfield, and on Friday the Patriots did so again. Martinsville was even worse, however, and when Thomas Anderson opened the second quarter with his third basket North led the sluggish game 10-2.
Coach Tim Wolf’s Artesians, who don’t have a senior on their roster, showed patience and started getting backdoor layups here and there. And North’s shooting got worse as the game wore on.
Anderson got the first point of the third quarter too, giving his team an 18-12 lead, but Martinsville got the next five points. Chris O’Leary worked his way free for a layup that put North ahead 20-17, but Seth Dow hit a 3-pointer and Martinsville had tied the score for the first time. Seconds later a steal and layup by Derek Krebs gave the underdogs their first lead.
“Our kids are really, really, really young, but they believed,” Wolf said after the game, and as the lead changed hands six more times it appeared the Patriots lost some of their own belief.
North’s defense stayed strong, but its offense disappeared. After a disastrous unforced turnover by the Patriots, who had a one-point lead at the time, 6-foot-8 sophomore Jason Ray threw in a 3-pointer with 1:09 left to give Martinsville a 32-30 lead, and the Artesians survived two missed one-and-one opportunities and one last North possession to win it.
The Patriots had the ball in the final seconds, trailing 32-31, but missed a shot and a rebound follow-up, and Dow scored the last point with 2.3 seconds left.
“A very disappointing end to what’s been a tremendous season,” coach Todd Woelfle of the Patriots said after the game. “We picked a bad night to have a poor shooting performance ... we ran the set we wanted to run [in the final seconds] and we had two point-blank shots.”
“Our kids played really, really hard, and so did North,” Wolf said. “I thought we did a good job defending the inside, and you kind of have to pick your poison. The 3s didn’t go down for [the Patriots].”
“Martinsville is very disciplined, and they ran their sets,” Woelfle said. “We defended them well, we just couldn’t buy a basket ... we just didn’t do enough on the offensive end to win, and that was the difference.”
Dow was Martinsville’s only double-figure scorer with 10 points. Anderson led all scorers with 13 points and Justin Gant had 14 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots.
“I’m thankful for the effort of our four seniors [Anderson, Andrew Gauer, O’Leary and Jordan Marshall],” Woelfle said. “They provided tremendous leadership to this basketball team.”
In the nightcap, South had its 3-point game working early but may have won the game at the other end of the court — or maybe at about the middle of the court, where a lot of the Braves’ 14 steals occurred.
The Braves hit eight 3-pointers in the first half, five of them by Anthony McGill, and opened some daylight against a team they’d struggled to beat back in January with a 10-2 second-quarter run that made the score 26-14.
Northview was back within 33-26 early in the third quarter after Caleb Mershon hit one of his six 3-pointers, then got a steal and layup for his only 2-point basket of the game. But the Knights struggled to run offense against South’s array of defensive traps, and by the third stop the lead had grown again to 46-33. Then South got the first 10 points of the fourth quarter.
“The kids are very selfless,” coach Mike Saylor of the Braves said afterward. “They make that extra pass ... and the trapping caused [the Knights] some problems. [Forcing] over 20 turnovers [Northview finished with 21] is pretty good in a 32-minute game.”
“[The Braves] made the shots, and we turned the ball over too much,” said coach Ernie Maesch of the Knights. “We didn’t do the things we worked on [in practice] the last 10 days. We didn’t execute well on offense, and that’s a credit to Terre Haute South.”
McGill had a game-high 27 points and also a game-high four assists for South, while John Michael Jarvis had 14 points, six rebounds and eight steals; Ike Worrell scored 11 without missing a field goal attempt; and Jacob Tanoos led the Braves with eight rebounds and also blocked three shots.
Mershon had 20 points for Northview, with Trent Lancaster adding 12. Jonathan Bradshaw had a game-high 11 rebounds.
About the only disappointing aspect of the game for South was the ice bag that Worrell was wearing on his ankle after the game. The Braves’ center went down after being fouled late in the game and had to be helped off the court.
“His ankle is in some trouble, and at this point I don’t know [about his availability for today],” Saylor said. “He’s been tremendously important to us; he’s really come on strong and had a great year for us.”
The last two points of the game by Jarvis, a pair of free throws with 3:51 left that capped South’s 10-0 run to open the fourth quarter, gave the South senior an even 1,000 for his career.