TERRE HAUTE —
Sullivan and Northview showed Monday night why they are two top contenders for the Western Indiana Conference boys high school basketball championship.
Sullivan got points and big plays from seven different players to overcome Northview’s one-two punch of Ethan Whitson and Jim Mace by a 60-54 score in the third-place game of the 14th annual Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic at Terre Haute North.
Sullivan (7-1) hit 17 of 19 free throws, 7 of 12 in the fourth quarter, to offset Northview’s 24-19 field-goal advantage and 36-25 rebound edge in the hotly contested contest of rivals.
“I knew it was going to come down to where it could go any way toward the end. We got down early and I thought Hunter King and Mike Willis came off the bench and gave us a big lift and started hitting some shots for us. Late in the game Brooks [Weszely] made some nice drives and finished some lay ups and we had some big kids finish some stuff,” Sullivan coach Jeff Moore said.
Michael Hutchcraft led the Golden Arrows with 13 points, four in the final two minutes, and Willis finished with 10 points, seven in the first half.
It’s the second year in a row Northview and Sullivan have met in the Wabash Valley third-place game.
“It was a great game against a very, very good team. They are a terrific basketball program. I think we walked away from the tournament knowing we’re just a little bit shy of where we need to be, but taking steps in the right direction and we’re going to be awful hungry in practice every day to get there,” Northview coach Clint Weddle said.
Northview’s Whitson led all scorers with 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the floor, while Mace netted 10 of his 14 points and pulled down 11 of his game-high 12 rebounds in the second half.
“Like I said all tournament, it’s a team thing and the other guys are helping put [Whitson and Mace] in position to be successful. We will find a way to maneuver Jim and a couple more spots on the floor, because he’s played very single one of them for us. I’m not only proud of him, but proud of the whole team. Each and every kid has made steps in a positive direction,” Weddle said.
Northview (4-4) jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Joe Ball sandwiched by 2s from Whitson and Mace. Northview took a 13-4 lead before Moore called timeout.
Sullivan’s Willis hit a 3 and a 2, allowing the Golden Arrows to get into their pressing defense. The Golden Arrows forced the Knights into five turnovers in the second period and 22 for the game.
The same press the Golden Arrows played against Terre Haute South also slowed the Knights’ offense and made it difficult to get the ball inside.
“That’s what we want it to do,” Moore said.
Sullivan’s King tied the game 13-13 with just under three minutes left in the first quarter. The Arrows outscored the Knights 9-5 to end the period with a 22-18 lead.
Whitson scored seven of Northview’s nine points in the second quarter. Sullivan’s Pirtle netted six points, giving the Golden Arrows a 34-25 lead before Mace passed to Whitson for the last two points of the half.
Sullivan scored the first four points of the second half and extended the lead to 45-35 on a 3 by Ian Perkinson heading into the final quarter.
Northview was nipping at Sullivan’s heels. Back-to-back baskets by Northview’s Mace and Whitson cut Sullivan’s lead to 48-44. Mace hit a free throw to that got the margin down to 50-47 with 3:58 to play. Sullivan’s Weszely drove the lane for a basket. Mace countered with a hook shot, again the margin was three, 52-49. Pirtle hit two free throws for Sullivan.
“Northview never quit, kept plugging away the whole time and really had chances to beat us,” Moore said.
But Northview never got closer than three. Sullivan’s Hutchcraft put back a rebound, then scored a back-door layup that gave the Golden Arrows a 58-49 lead with 1:10 to play.
“The thing that has been a sticking point for us, there are three-or-four possession spans that kind of hinder us. We’ll do two things on the offensive end and we’ll combine that with one or two things on the defensive end in that spurt,” Weddle said.
And in the final 30 seconds, Kinnaman and Pirtle hit free throws to secure the win.
And the WIC rivals will meet against Jan. 30 at Sullivan.
“It should be a battle. I think us, Northview and Owen Valley are probably the three best teams in the conference. We got to go through Owen Valley,” Moore said.
NORTHVIEW (54) — Ellis 2-5 0-0 5, Mace 7-8 0-3 14, Whitson 10-16 1-2 21, Ball 1-4 0-0 3, Underwood 0-0 0-0 0, Hyatt 1-5 0-0 3, Kimball 1-1 1-3 3, Hayes 2-9 0-0 5. Totals 24-48 FG, 2-8 FT, 54 TP.
SULLIVAN (60) — McPhail 0-1 0-0 0, Hutchcraft 6-9 1-1 13, Gregory 0-1 0-0 0, Weszely 3-5 2-5 8, Pirtle 1-7 7-9 9, Kinnaman 1-6 4-6 6, Willis 3-9 2-4 10, Perkinson 3-6 1-2 8, King 2-3 0-0 6. Totals 19-47 FG, 17-27 FT, 60 TP.
Northview 18 9 8 19 -- 54
Sullivan 22 12 11 15 -- 60
3-point shooting — N 4-17 (Hyatt 1-3, Ellis 1-3, Ball 1-4, Hayes 1-7), S 5-17 (KIing 2-3, Willis 2-4, Perkinson 1-1, McPhail 0-1, Gregory 0-1, Pirtle 0-6). Total fouls — N 18, S 14. Intentional foul — Kinnaman. Fouled out — Ball. Turnovers — N 22, S 14. Rebounds — N 36 (Mace 12, Ellis 8), S 25 (Kinnaman 6, Willis 5). Steals — N 4 (Hyatt, Mace, Ball, Hayes), S 12 (Weszely 4).
Next — Sullivan (7-1, 0-0 in WIC) travels to Edgewood on Friday. Northview (4-4, 2-0 in WIC) will host Owen Valley on Jan. 10.