News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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December 28, 2013

Braves edge Golden Arrows in Pizza Hut Classic semifinal thriller

South in first Classic title game since 2007

TERRE HAUTE — With just two seniors on its roster versus Sullivan's nine seniors, one might think it would have been Terre Haute South that blinked in a taut, tense Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic semifinal on Saturday.

The Braves didn't.

With the game tied at 50 with 4:16 left, South went on a 10-2 run, a rally that included some uncharacteristic Sullivan self-inflicted errors, as the Braves advanced to the Pizza Hut Classic title game with a 66-62 victory at Terre Haute North.

It is South's first appearance in the Pizza Hut Classic title game since the Braves won it in 2007. South will play Terre Haute North for the championship.

It's only the second time there's been a North-South Pizza Hut Classic championship game. The only other occurred in 2004 when South won 47-38.

"It feels wonderful to go through the last-minute, tie-game [scenario]. It feels better than a blowout because you never know what's going to happen. It keeps your senses up," South's Tre Minnett said.

Minnett led South (5-2) with 22 points. Timmy Herrin and Connor Shipley added 15. Brooks Weszely led Sullivan (6-1) with 15.

"Our kids played their butts off. They played hard. It was a fun game to be a part of. That's a great team over there. They have a lot of fight in them. I love how our kids fight too," South coach Scott Ridge said.

Both teams played withering defense. It was evident in the many shot attempts that sailed too long or well short of the mark, and the amount of free throws -- 55 combined attempts -- taken in the contest.

"It was a fight. It was a hard-fought, physical, tough game. Everything about that game was tough and hard. Nothing came easy for either team," Ridge said.

South did it as its done throughout the Classic -- with its defensive pressure being converted into offense. The Braves also had Sullivan help.

With the game tied at 50, Connor Shipley put South in front 52-50, but the flurry was yet to come. Timmy Herrin stole the ball from Brooks Weszely at mid-court and converted it into a bucket.

Another Herrin steal gave South another chance, but it seemed squandered when Tre Minnett missed a free throw. But Sullivan didn't chase down the loose ball out of bounds on the rebound and Terre Haute South got the ball back. Shipley converted off the freebie possession to put South up 56-50.

Then, after a pair of Michael Hutchcraft free throws, Sullivan lost composure. Hutchcraft was called for a foul, said something to the official, and was assessed a technical foul.

Tre Minnett hit all four free throws to put South up 60-52 with 2:19 left.

"I was nervous, I'm not going to lie. I just tried to clear my mind and shoot like I do in practice," Minnett said.

All seemed lost for Sullivan. It wasn't.

The Arrows rallied behind a pair of Jake Kinnaman free throws and two Weszely buckets. Suddenly, South's lead was just 60-58 with 1:02 left.

Sullivan couldn't get the breakthrough. It closed the gap to one with :34.8 left, but Minnett and Shipley made free throws down the stretch to give South the win.

"We practice free throws and throughout the game we hit free throws, but those last free throws were nerve-wracking for me," Shipley said.

Sullivan's 25 turnovers contributed to its undoing. They came in spurts -- there were other times the Arrows broke South's pressure with aplomb -- but in the end, they hurt. So did the technical foul.

"We needed this kind of game to raise our energy level up a little bit. And it did. For the most part, we played well. We had a few too many turnovers and missed free throws hurt us all night," Moore said. "Even with the technical, we still got it back to one and had chances to win the ball game. It just didn't happen."

For RIdge, it was not only a chance to take South back to the Pizza Hut Classic title game after a six-year absence, but also a chance to beat his alma mater and Moore, his former coach.

"I learned a lot from coach Moore and I'm trying to implement some of what he does here," Ridge said. "It was extremely fun. In the end, when it's over, you hate to see them lose. They've got a great senior class and there's a lot of people in that community I care about. But I feel for our kids and all of the work they've put in."

The entire game was a tense affair that more than lived up to its billing as a matchup of two Classic favorites.

Neither South's nor Sullivan's pressure had much of an impact in a 10-10 first quarter. The second quarter was a different story.

At first Sullivan had control. Three-point makes by Nathan Pirtle helped the Arrows build an 18-14 advantage two minutes in and Sullivan held sway for most of the period. Sullivan's lead peaked at 24-18 with 3:20 left in the half.

South did not give up on its defensive opportunism and it bore fruit with just over two minutes left. The Braves trailed 24-22 when Herrin jumped Sullivan's inbounds pass for an easy steal and bucket to tie the game. Then Tre Minnett did the same thing, and in a flash, South led by two with 2:10 left.

The Braves didn't relent. South finished the half with a 15-2 run. Much of the damage was done at the line as South quickly got on the break and forced Sullivan to foul. Sullivan's nine second-quarter turnovers helped South take a 33-26 halftime lead.

Tre Minnett scored 12 points in the second quarter and gave the Braves a major lift.

"You can't play a game without confidence. If you don't believe in yourself, who will?" Minnett queried.

The pendulum swung Sullivan's way in the third quarter. South's questionable shot selection gave Sullivan the window it needed to get some good shots on its own end. A 9-0 Golden Arrows run put Sullivan up 39-36 at the 3:44 mark.

Just as quickly, South counter-punched. A 6-0 Braves run put South back in front 44-41. The Braves led by one at the final quarter break.

Sullivan's Kinnaman played despite suffering from illness. He didn't start and wasn't 100 percent, but played after having an IV treatment on Friday. He managed eight points and 10 rebounds.

Sullivan plays Northview in Monday's third-place game.

South just wants to wipe out a Pizza Hut Classic dry spell that goes back to when Jake Odum played for the Braves.

"We've seen that 2007 banner on the wall. We want to bring it home. It's even better that we get to play against North," Shipley said.

TERRE HAUTE SOUTH (66) -- Stevenson 2-5 0-0 4, Shipley 4-5 7-8 15, Tofaute 1-8 1-4 3, Herrin 7-15 1-3 15, Newton 2-3 1-2 5, J. Minnett 0-8 0-0 0, Dinkel 0-1 0-2 0, T. Minnett 6-17 9-12 22, Heyen 1-2 0-0 2, Fuson 0-1 0-0 0. 23-65 FG, 19-31 FT, 66 TP.

SULLIVAN (62) -- Pirtle 2-8 0-2 6, McPhail 1-4 1-2 3, Hutchcraft 5-6 4-4 14, Weszely 6-13 3-5 15, Perkinson 5-9 3-5 13, Gregory 0-1 0-0 0, Kinnaman 2-7 4-5 8, King 0-3 0-0 0, Willis 2-2 0-1 4. 23-53 FG, 15-24 FT, 62 TP.

TH South=10=23=13=20=--=66

Sullivan=10=16=19=17=--=62


3-point goals -- THS 1-12 (T. Minnett 1-5, J. Minnett 0-5, Tofaute 0-2), S 2-12 (Pirtle 2-6, Weszely 0-3, King 0-2, McPhail 0-1). Rebounds -- THS 42 (Herrin 7, Shipley 6, Newton 6), S 42 (Kinnaman 10, Perkinson 8, Hutchcraft 7, Weszely 6). Steals -- THS 14 (Herrin 3, Newton 3, T. Minnett 3), S 3 (Pirtle 2). Blocks -- THS 3 (Newton, T. Minnett, J. Minnett), S 1 (Perkinson). Turnovers -- THS 14, S 25. Total fouls -- THS 24, S 24. Fouled out -- Tofaute, Herrin. Technical foul -- Hutchcraft.

Next -- TH South (5-2) plays TH North in Monday's 8 p.m. championship game. Sullivan (6-1) plays Northview in Monday's 6:30 p.m. 3rd-place game.

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