By Kenny Hetzler Kokomo Tribune
---- — SHARPSVILLE — Carroll’s boys basketball team must of had an inspirational speech by coach Matt Weaver as the Cougars came from behind Friday night to beat Faith Christian 48-39 in the first semifinal round of the Class A Tri-Central Sectional.
The Cougars (12-11) now face Rossville (15-8) in tonight’s championship game. Rossville defeated Frontier 49-23 in the other semifinal.
Carroll was down 18-11 at halftime, but scored the first seven points of the second half to tie it at 18-18 on a jumper by Spencer Sproul with 5:32 left in the third quarter. Faith Christian re-took the lead 19-18 on a free throw by Vernon Ford, but Sproul responded with another basket to give the Cougars the lead for good at 20-19.
“Faith came out with a lot of energy, and we didn’t match their intensity from the get go,” Weaver said. “Our guys found out in the sectional, if your not ready to play hard, and get after it from the tip, then you can lose the game. I give Faith a lot of credit. [Cam Berning] really killed us in the first half. Our man-to-man, we couldn’t stay with him. We didn’t have any help side [on defense]. So we talked in the lockerroom about playing our 3-2 zone. How are we going to find Berning, and stay with him?
“We went to a high-low continuity offense. We talked about getting the ball inside, and getting mid-range shot, because we couldn’t hit a shot in the first half to save our lives. We also had to limit turnovers. They did a great job of getting into the passing lanes in the half court, and denying our bigs the ball. I think it was 11 turnovers, which is way too many when a team is not pressing you.”
Berning scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the first half for Faith Christian. After shooting 4 of 6 from the field in the first half, Berning was 1 of 7 in the second half, and Carroll’s big players Jarin Bush, Brandon Dillon and Sproul scored nine of Carroll’s 11 first-half points. In the second half, Bush and Sproul scored 17 of Carroll’s 37 after the break.
Sproul played more minutes in the second quarter and second half do to an injury to Dillon in the first quarter.
“Sproul came in and gave us a huge lift [Friday],” Weaver added. “He is a part-time varsity player. He played a lot of junior varsity for us this year, because Bush logs a lot of minutes for us. He deserves a lot of praise for his play in the post [Friday], scoring, knocking down his mid-range jumper and defensive rebounding. He really gave us a huge lift.”
Bush led Carroll with 12 points. Sproul and Seth Eldridge each had 11 for the Cougars. Besides Berning’s 14 points, Matt Rumpke added 13 points for Faith Christian.
Tonight’s championship game will be a rematch of a double-overtime barnburner on Dec. 20. Rossville won that game at home 74-73.