GREENFIELD — Following a lopsided loss to New Palestine on Dec. 9, Greenfield-Central head coach Doug Laker asked his players to stay after the game. Watching film late into the night, Laker was unsatisfied with their recent play. He knew his Cougars could — and would — do better.
Exactly two weeks later, Greenfield-Central did just that.
However, after advancing to the championship game of the Laker Farm Implement Holiday Tournament, the Cougars ran out of gas after the long, two-day tourney and fell 46-42 to East Chicago Central after trailing 29-18 at halftime.
Seniors Madison Wise, Katie Helgason and sophomore Kate Real, who made the All-Tournament team, connected on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to spark a Cougars comeback that would fall just short.
With 1:35 left in regulation, Wise’s triple pulled Greenfield-Central within two, 44-42, but the Cardinals would scored four points, two coming off a Cougar turnover, en route to the tournament title.
Greenfield-Central outscored East Chicago Central 15-7 in the final frame but could not get out of hole it dug itself in earlier as it trailed 39-27 after three quarters of play.
Wise led the team with 14 points after a shaky first half while Helgason added 12. Her four field goals all came from behind the arc. Freshman guard Hannah Farrell paced the Cougars with eight points in the loss.
“There is no quit in those kids,” Greenfield-Central head coach Doug Laker said. “It is what is, we played hard and got ourselves in a hole. It’s just the simple things. It becomes a mental thing (after a long day).
“We told them they have no reason to be sad over what they just did. They gave it everything they had.”
Junior guard Jenasae Bishop led the Cardinals with 21 points while 6-foot-5 sophomore center Tai-Yanna Jackson, in just her third game this season, scored 14.
“No one knows about East Chicago Central,” Laker said. “Everyone talks Dana Evans (of Gary West Side) and she is great. But East Chicago has some skill.
“(Jackson) just started playing this weekend. She’s a difference maker, you don’t see that (height and length) a lot.”
East Chicago Central jumped out to an early 19-9 lead after one quarter of play. Jackson did not miss a shot in the opening frame to finish with 10 points.
The Cardinals continued their offensive efficiency to open the second quarter but the Cougars would complete a 9-2 run to creep back in the game.
Wise, who did not score in the first quarter, scored seven straight points in the second to pull Greenfield-Central within seven, 25-18, with 2:45 to play in the half.
However, East Chicago Central closed on a 4-0 run to take a 29-18 lead into the break.
Jackson finished with 14 points in the opening half. Wise led the Cougars with eight.
Greenfield-Central finished the game shooting 6 of 25 from the field while East Chicago Central was 12-for-24. For the game, the Cougars shot 15 of 53. The Cardinals were 17-for-39.
Also for Greenfield-Central, Real and freshman Kyrstin Bond added three points.
The Cougars will play again Dec. 29 against Plainfield at the Hall of Fame Classic in New Castle.
Game 1: Greenfield-Central 69, Richmond 37
Game 2: Gary West 67, Whitko 61
Game 3: East Central 80, Marion 49
Game 4: East Chicago Central 57, Westfield 50
Game 5: Whitko 45, Richmond 29
Game 6: Westfield 85, Marion 52
Game 7: Greenfield-Central 62, Gary West 55
Game 8: East Chicago Central 55, East Central 40
Game 9: Marion 42, Richmond 40
Game 10: Whitko 51, Westfield 35
Game 11: East Central 55, Gary West 54
Game 12: East Chicago Central 46, Greenfield-Central 42
Madison Wise, Greenfield-Central
Katie Helgason, Greenfield-Central
Kate Real, Greenfield-Central
Tai-Yanna Jackson, East Chicago Central
Zariah Frierson, East Chicago Central
Jenasae Bishop, East Chicago Central
Dana Evans, Gary West Side
Aly Reiff, Whitko