NEW CASTLE — “Patience, patience,” Greenfield-Central head coach Michael Lewis shouted from the New Castle sideline.
Continuing its impressive ball movement from Tuesday’s win against Pendleton Heights, the Cougars wanted nothing more than to make the long and athletic New Castle defense work Friday — and work some more.
Although patient, Greenfield-Central failed to make a field goal — or score a point — in the second quarter en route to a 57-32 loss in the second semifinal contest of the evening.
Junior Will O’Connor led the Cougars in scoring with 10 points, while senior David Froedge had 17 for the Trojans. Froedge hit four threes in the third quarter to help the host team run away to the Sectional 9 final.
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“Unfortunately, I didn’t put the kids in the best position to be successful offensively,” Lewis said. “(New Castle) played really well and hit shots.”
Greenfield-Central finished 0 for 6 from the field in the second quarter and trailed 23-13 at halftime despite a solid opening frame. The Cougars found their rhythm again after the break, but were outscored 23-10 in the third quarter by a hot-shooting Trojans team, which finished the third quarter 8-for-13 from the field.
New Castle will now play Connersville today for the sectional title. The Spartans, who won last year’s championship, handled Richmond in the first semifinal contest Friday.
Greenfield-Central (12-13) trailed by one after the first quarter, 14-13, and used unselfish play to help free O’Connor, who nailed two threes in the period. Senior John Davis also connected on a 3-pointer for the Cougars, who finished 5 of 11 from the field in a promising start.
O’Connor had six points at the break, while sophomore guard Luke Bumbalough led New Castle (17-6) with 10. He finished with 15 for the night. Bumbalough’s teammate, sophomore Mason Gillis, added eight points and nine rebounds.
Also for the Cougars, senior John Davis and junior Brian Long each added six points in the loss.
Greenfield-Central finished the first half 5 of 17 from the field, while New Castle was 10-for-20. For the game, the Cougars were 12-for-39 and the Trojans were 22 of 42.
Davis and fellow seniors Josh Mundell, Drey Jameson, Casey Phillips and Jared Jackson will be lost to graduation, but freshmen Logan Graddy and Brady Mundell and juniors Matt Turner and Long will return next season with varsity experience.
“I am honored to coach such a great group of kids,” Lewis said. “At the beginning of the year we talked about how we weren’t going to worry about the results. We wanted to continue to move the program forward.
“(The seniors) were great teammates and worked hard every day. I am very proud.”