News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

December 28, 2013

Sullivan knocks off injury-ravaged Robinson

Golden Arrows move to face TH South in Classic semifinal

TERRE HAUTE — Injuries are a part of any sport. That it's a reality doesn't make it any easier to take when an injury effects a game as it did for Robinson against unbeaten Sullivan in Friday's Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic finale at Terre Haute North.

With 24 seconds left in the first half on a Robinson inbounds pass against Sullivan's press, big Jake Kinnaman of Sullivan collided with Robinson's Michael Akande as Akande tried to chase down a loose ball. The Robinson senior appeared to accidentally get hit in the head and had to be helped off the floor.

Suffering from a concussion, Akande never returned. Robinson fought gamely, but losing Akande was a mortal blow in a 48-41 quarterfinal defeat to the powerful Golden Arrows.

Robinson (5-5) was already playing without leading scorer Adam Richart. Akande's loss was one 8-ball too many to be put behind.

"You take away your leading scorer and rebounder and you already have your second-leading scorer on the bench, but I thought some guys stepped up," Robinson coach Mack Thompson said. "We hit a couple of shots late and that's a different ballgame."

Akande's injury had an undeniable effect on the game, but to say it was the sole cause for Robinson's demise, or particularly, for Sullivan's success, is an affront to the Golden Arrows' defensive effort.

"It took their one big post presence away. It's unfortunate. He seems to be a great kid," Sullivan coach Jeff Moore said.

Experienced Sullivan, the Golden Arrows have XX seniors, dispatched the Maroons in the third quarter as Robinson could muster only four points in the period. Sullivan's pressure defense played a role -- the Maroons had six of their 20 turnovers in the period -- but the Arrows also played excellent half-court defense as well.

"For a good 10 or 12 minutes we held them to four points at the beginning of the second half and that was pretty much the difference in the ballgame," Moore said.

Sullivan (6-0) wasn't playing with a completely full deck either. Kinnaman, whom Sullivan pivots on in the paint, was sick. He played in the first half, but didn't see any action in the second half.

Sullivan's Brooks Weszely led all scorers with 15 points. Robinson's Connor Griffin led the Maroons with 14.

Early in the contest, buckets were hard to come by for both teams. Sullivan led 10-8 after the first quarter, but the disciplined Maroons worked their offense to a tee and led 15-12 early in the second quarter.

A 7-0 Sullivan run -- fueled by a pair of Nathan Pirtle 3-pointers -- put the Arrows up 19-15, but Robinson fought back again and stayed within a possession of Sullivan until just before Akande's injury.

Sullivan pushed its lead to 12 as it kept Robinson from gaining any traction offensively. The lead peaked at 42-26 early in the fourth quarter.

But the Maroons didn't quit. Sullivan got sloppy -- it had eight fourth-quarter turnovers -- and with 2:22 left Robinson had sliced its deficit in half. The Maroons couldn't get the bucket to really make Sullivan nervous, but Thompson lauded their effort.

Sullivan's reward for their victory is an 8:30 p.m. semifinal date with Terre Haute South. The Braves have played better than any other team in the tournament with dominant wins over Marshall and Casey.

Both South and Sullivan apply defensive pressure. South is quicker to attack out of it than Sullivan is and that's been the Braves' calling card in the Classic so far.

"They're going to be a handful," Moore said. "Our kids get pressed everyday. You'd think we'd handle pressure a little bit than we handled it at the end of the game today. [South] has more athletes than we have with our pressure, so we'll have to be smart against theirs."

The game also pits Moore against South coach Scott Ridge, his former player.

As for Robinson, it doesn't get any easier as it gets fellow Little Illini Conference member Casey, just a two-loss team. Thompson cautioned for no one to "hold their breath" as to an Akande return, but he likes the mix he has with his remaining Maroons.

"We'll miss Mike and it changes our dynamic, but it's a dynamic I kind of like. The chemistry of our junior class and some of our younger guys is really, really good too," Thompson said. "These guys have 24 hours to know it's time to play."

SULLIVAN (48) -- King 0-3 0-0 0, McPhail 2-5 2-4 6, Hutchcraft 2-5 1-2 5, Weszely 5-8 3-5 15, Perkinson 3-5 0-0 6, Pirtle 3-6 1-2 9, Gregory 1-2 0-0 3, Willis 1-3 2-3 4, Kinnaman 0-1 0-0 0, Santus 0-0 0-0 0. 17-38 FG, 9-16 FT, 48 TP.

ROBINSON (41) -- Tennison 1-1 0-0 3, Griffin 6-13 2-2 14, Hoagland 0-7 6-9 6, Bopp 2-5 2-2 6, Harrison 2-7 2-2 6, Akande 1-4 1-2 3, Dirks 0-1 1-2 1, Stevens 0-0 0-0 0, Wright 1-2 0-0 2. 13-40 FG, 14-19 FT, 41 TP.

Sullivan=10=18=8=12=--=48

Robinson=8=14=4=15=--=41


3-point goals -- S 5-13 (Weszely 2-4, Pirtle 2-4, Gregory 1-1, King 0-2, McPhail 0-1, Hutchcraft 0-1), R 1-7 (Tennison 1-1, Griffin 0-4, Bopp 0-1, Wright 0-1). Rebounds -- S 23 (Perkinson 7), R 30 (Hoagland 8, Harrison 8). Steals -- S 11 (Hutchcraft 2, Weszely 2, Perkinson 2, Pirtle 2), R 12 (Hoagland 5). Blocks -- S 3 (Hutchcraft, Perkinson, Kinnaman), R 0. Turnovers -- S 17, R 20. Total fouls -- S 16, R 16. Fouled out -- Griffin.

Next -- Sullivan (6-0) plays Terre Haute South at 8:30 p.m. today. Robinson (5-5) plays Casey at 5:30 p.m. today.

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