Heritage Christian powers through Greenfield-Central Regional

GREENFIELD — For a third consecutive year, Greenfield-Central High School played host to Class 2A Regional 11, and, once again, team play and depth overcame individual brilliance.

Heritage Christian defeated No. 10 Shenandoah and No. 4 Northeastern, of Henry and Wayne Counties respectively, to advance to this weekend’s semistate.

The morning tipped off with a matchup that brought several observers from around the state as No. 4 Northeastern was set to play Cooper Neese, a Butler signee, and Cloverdale. This was the third consecutive year each school had made the regional.

Tyler Smith of Northeastern, a signee of 2015 Div. II NCAA Champions Florida Southern, took little time reminding the near capacity crowd that Neese was not the only high-caliber player in the matchup.

On his first possession he drove past Neese for a dunk and was fouled. The game was a game of runs, and it seemed as if it would go down to the wire, but Northeastern was able to pull away in the fourth quarter to win 67-59. Smith would finish with 28 points, while Neese struggled to get going all game, finishing with 20 points.

In Heritage Christian’s morning game, they easily defeated Shenandoah, 58-45. In that game, the Eagles had three players in double figures to overwhelm the Raiders. In the night’s championship game, Heritage Christian’s depth proved to be too much for Northeastern.

In a night session, which again nearly filled the Cougar gym to capacity, Northeastern led after the first quarter, 16-15, but Heritage Christian pulled away in the second quarter. They answered each and every Northeastern run to win 65-50.

The Eagles’ depth showed with their scoring as points were spread throughout its roster. Kyle Somers, Hayden Wynja and Zack Meus all finished in double figures, and two other players finished with 9 points. In contrast, only Smith and Nate Reynolds of Northeastern finished in double figures.

The win provided Heritage Christian with its first regional title since 2007. While, the loss marked Northeastern’s fourth consecutive loss to a school from Indianapolis in the regional round.

Heritage Christian will advance to play Crawford County in the Richmond Semistate on Saturday at 6 p.m. Should they win, it will be the third consecutive year a State finals participant has come out of the regional hosted by Greenfield-Central.