NEW CASTLE — When Greenfield-Central needed it most, Chandler Bean delivered in a big way.
Behind the senior guard’s five timely assists Tuesday at the New Castle Sectional, the Cougars earned their 11th straight win the hard way during the first round against Richmond 51-42.
Bean finished with 16 points and found teammate Kirill Schoellman wide open for the biggest shot of the night at the end of the third quarter to give the Cougars its first lead of the game.
From there, Greenfield-Central hit just enough free throws — with help from multiple technical fouls called on Richmond in the final quarter — to seal the win.
“They came in very focused, and we did not handle their pressure well,” Cougars head coach Michael Lewis said of the Red Devils. “In the end, our ability to contain the bounce and force them to take jump shots was what turned the game around.
“He (Bean) settled down after the first half and did exactly what you want your senior point guard to do in a sectional. He got the ball where it needed to go.”
Senior forward Tate Hall added 15 points for the Cougars, and guard Blake Robertson finished with 10.
Greenfield-Central (20-4) now will face Connersville on Friday in the first semifinal game at 6 p.m.
Sophomore guard Christian Harvey led the Red Devils (11-15) with 10 points. Richmond had won the past two Sectional 9 titles.
Tied at 24-all with just under 10 seconds left in the third quarter, Bean set the Cougars on course to win. Coming off a screen from Hall at the top of the key, Bean drove to the middle of the paint only to find Schoellman all alone in the right corner.
His 3-pointer gave the Cougars, who limited the Red Devils to just three points in the frame, a 27-24 lead.
“As soon as we got back to the huddle (before the second half) Bean said, ‘let’s try and get a kill’,” Lewis said. “It means three stops in a row. They knew we had to guard to get back in the game.”
The shot and improved defense helped Greenfield-Central steal momentum and carry it into the final quarter, where it outscored the Red Devils 24-18.
For the game, the Cougars finished 11 of 32 (34 percent) from the field and 26-for-33 (78 percent) from the free-throw line. Richmond, which committed 15 turnovers in the game, finished 15 of 36 (42 percent) from the field.
However, three turnovers and a 5-0 hole wasn’t exactly the start Greenfield-Central wanted in the first quarter, but the Red Devils’ relentless full-court pressure kept the Cougars off balance from the start.
Richmond took a 11-7 lead after one and increased it to 17-12 after a bucket from Daric Clemons midway through the quarter.
Robertson answered with five straight points, all with Hall on the bench with two fouls. Robertson’s bucket came off assists from Bean to pull Greenfield-Central within two, 19-17.
Richmond answered, though, with another score from Clemens to take a 21-17 lead into the break after the Cougars failed to convert on its final possession of the first half.
Robertson scored eight points in the first half while Hall added seven for Greenfield-Central, which only turned the ball over two mores times in the half after a rocky start.
The Cougars last sectional title came during the 1997-98 season under head coach John Hamilton. And although it was some time ago, Connersville topped Greenfield-Central 47-40 earlier this season on Dec. 22.
“They are extremely well coached and their kids play so hard,” Lewis said of the Spartans. “They are not going to beat themselves. We are going to have to play extremely well.”