Balanced attack gets Cougars victory

GREENFIELD — After a season-opening loss, Greenfield-Central learned its lesson.

Facing a team much similar to their first opponent, Beech Grove, the Cougars showed little fear against the length and athleticism of Indianapolis Marshall on Friday night in a 58-44 win at home.

However, this time, Greenfield-Central took care of the ball — and shared it — while rebounding at a high rate in a game that seemed to have everyone involved.

One game after scoring a career-high 27 points, Cougars’ junior forward Will O’Connor torched the Patriot defense in the first half en route to a team-high 21 points. He also grabbed nine rebounds.

Senior guard Josh Mundell added a career-high 12 points for Greenfield-Central in the win, while 6-foot-8 forward Brian Long finished with eight points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field.

“We had a really good week of practice and that really showed tonight,” said Mundell, who also grabbed three rebounds. “We brought a lot of energy and the bench energy was huge. We fed off each other.”

Leading by nine at halftime, the Cougars continued to keep their rhythm from behind the arc and used 3s from junior Matt Turner and O’Connor to take a 40-25 lead midway through the third quarter. Turner finished with eight points in the quarter and had 10 in the game.

Greenfield-Central (1-1) outscored Marshall (0-2) 20-14 in the third quarter and led 49-34 going into the fourth. The Cougars were 8 of 11 from the field in the quarter with six players registering a basket.

After finishing their first game against the Hornets with 20 turnovers, the Cougars committed just 12 on Friday — most of which being aggressive plays to the basket.

“That (turnovers) was the difference maker right there,” Mundell added. “That’s what we worked on all week — taking care of the ball.”

Greenfield-Central started sharp with a 7-1 run to begin the game and used a three from O’Connor and four points from Long to take an early lead. Marshall would counter, though, using a full-court press to hurry the Cougars. It used a 7-0 run to take an 8-7 advantage, which would later be erased after the first quarter as Greenfield-Central led by two, 14-12.

O’Connor finished with eight points in the opening period and started the second-quarter scoring with his third three of the game. He also dove on the floor for a loose ball with 5:19 remaining after forcing Marshall into its sixth turnover of the game.

The Patriots did not score until 4:37 remaining in the half. One of the Marshall players was also called for a technical midway through the frame, which happened to be right in the middle of a Cougar run.

Led by O’Connor’s 18 points, including four 3-pointers, Greenfield-Central stretched its lead to 29-20 at the break. Mundell had six points at halftime.

The Cougars finished the first half 9 of 21 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free throw line. They would finish the game 13 of 16 from the charity stripe, while Marshall was just 4-for-7. The Patriots were 8 of 16 from the field in the first half and 10 for 26 in the second.

Last season, Greenfield-Central beat Marshall 67-32 on the road. The Patriots finished the year 1-20 with a lone with against Indianapolis Shortridge.

The Cougars fell in their first game this season, 60-48. Marshall, who was led in scoring by junior D’Shawn Harbor (15 points) on Friday, also started its season 0-1 with a 70-69 loss to Indianapolis Metropolitan.

Greenfield-Central returns to action tonight at Perry Meridian (1-2).

“(Perry Meridian) is another real athletic team,” Mundell said.

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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.