SHELBYVILLE — The Greenfield-Central Cougars welcomed back a familiar feeling Tuesday night, and it stemmed from a familiar face.
With senior point guard Katie Helgason’s return from an ACL tear suffered more than three months ago, the Class 4A Cougars snapped a three-game losing streak with a big 55-24 win against Shelbyville.
“It’s good to get the win, but it’s nice to have No. 2 back,” Greenfield-Central head coach Doug Laker said. “You can just tell. I know she’s not 100 percent, but she just brings that ‘it’ factor.”
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Limited in her minutes in her first official game of the season, Helgason brought stability, facilitating and pushing the offense in the Cougars’ first Hoosier Heritage Conference victory. Prior to the game, Greenfield-Central lost both HHC matchups to Pendleton Heights 60-58 on Nov. 18 and New Palestine 54-41 Dec. 9.
Their loss to the Dragons was sandwiched between setbacks against 4A No. 5 Hamilton Southeastern and No. 1 Homestead this past Saturday.
Led by Iowa State recruit Madison Wise and her game-high 19 points, the Cougars powered back into the win column with fluidity on offense and their patented pressure defense.
Greenfield-Central (5-6, 1-2 HHC) held the Golden Bears (1-10, 0-4 HHC) scoreless in the first quarter and went on a 24-0 run before surrendering it’s first point.
Wise teamed with Hannah Farrell and Helgason to force four first-quarter Golden Bears’ turnovers and converted on a pair of steals early to put the Cougars ahead 10-0. She finished with six steals and six assists to go with eight rebounds.
Helgason converted on 4 of 7 attempts from 3-point range. Three sank through in the third quarter to give her 12 points. The Ball State recruit had just been cleared by her doctor on Monday.
“It was really awesome to be back out there,” Helgason said. “My shot is getting there.”
Her presence made an immediate impact on the Cougars’ ability to move Wise out of the point guard position and take some of the burden off of Farrell, a freshman, who had nine points on 3 of 5 shooting.
The Cougars ran out to a 46-11 lead in the third quarter as Wise knocked down a pair of free throws, where she was 5 of 7 in the game, and connected on a kick-out pass to Helgason for her fourth trey.
Wise dished the ball inside to Brooke Andrus for another quick bucket before She put Greenfield-Central in control of it’s first win since No. 26 against 4A Martinsville at home.
“It was definitely important to end the streak. We were struggling a little bit. Hopefully, we hit our lowest low,” Wise said. “It’s been a roller-coaster ride, but it feels really good to get a win again.”
The conference win was crucial for the Cougars with a home game on Saturday against HHC foe Delta at 1:30 p.m. They host 4A Connersville next week on Tuesday before their tournament just prior to Christmas weekend.
“It definitely helped having Katie back,” Wise said. “It’s funny how things change when you get someone back. We missed her.”