How sweet it is: Cougars clinch outright HHC title

YORKTOWN — Winning has become the norm for the Greenfield-Central girls basketball team this season. However, Tuesday’s victory against Yorktown tasted a little sweeter.

For the first time in school history, the Class 4A No. 10 Cougars are outright Hoosier Heritage Conference champions. Thanks to a second-quarter run fueled by defensive pressure, Greenfield-Central topped the host Tigers 54-33 for its sixth-straight win.

The team’s only other HHC title came during the 2012-13 season, when it shared the championship with Pendleton Heights and New Castle. The 18 wins for Greenfield-Central (18-4, 7-0 HHC) are the most for the program this century.

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“It feels good. We have been working hard all these years together as a team,” said senior forward Amanda Flora, who has experienced the highs and lows with the program over four seasons. “It’s fun because you can see it pay off, all the hard work and dedication.”

Flora scored six points in the pivotal second quarter and finished the game with nine. Junior Madison Wise led the team with 20 points and seven rebounds.

A poor shooting first quarter saw both teams go scoreless for nearly six minutes of action. Wise broke the silence with a 3-pointer, however; Yorktown hit another three and took an 8-5 lead after one.

The struggles continued for Greenfield-Central in the second quarter, but a steal and layup by sophomore forward Jessica Farrell with 2:50 left sparked a 12-0 run to give the team a 26-15 advantage at halftime.

After shooting 2 of 15 in the first quarter, Greenfield-Central finished 8-for-12 in the second. Yorktown shot 5-of-16 in the first half as the Cougars forced the Tigers into 12 turnovers, mainly off a full-court press.

“I think we started talking and came together,” Flora said. “Even though we started out slow, we finished strong as a team.”

Greenfield-Central started the third quarter on a 11-3 run and never looked back en route to the title.

“I am just proud of the girls,” said Cougars’ coach Doug Laker, who is now 107-65 in his eighth season at the helm. “We didn’t play our best tonight, but we played well enough to win. Bottom line, we just need to keep getting better every day.”

For the game, Greenfield-Central shot 40 percent (20 of 49) from the field while Yorktown finished at 34 percent (12 of 35).

Junior guard Katie Helgason added 11 points and five steals in the win. Yorktown (6-12, 1-5 HHC) was led by Ellie Miller with 10 points.

The Cougars won 17 games last season and 14 during the 2013-14 season. In Laker’s eight seasons, the team has won 10 or more games six times.

Greenfield-Central closes out its regular season on Thursday at home against Avon.

In the junior varsity contest, Greenfield-Central led 40-19 after the third quarter and won 49-27, giving the Cougars JV team a tie with New Castle for the HHC title.

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Kris Mills is a sports reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 317-477-3230 or kmills@greenfieldreporter.com.