GREENFIELD — It’s just Game 1, but Greenfield-Central boys basketball team left the court at Dellen Automotive Gymnasium Tuesday with a lot to be happy about.
Save the first four minutes of the game, Greenfield-Central led the entire night in a convincing 62-47 victory over defending Class 3A state champion Beech Grove.
The Hornets, with a roster of 10 seniors, returned three starters from last year’s state championship game victory over Mishawaka Marian. They had five players that saw significant minutes in the title matchup in Tuesday’s starting lineup.
That didn’t matter to the Cougars, who answered the game’s opening points, a deep 3-pointer from Beech Grove guard Jeremiah Tate, with the game’s next eight points.
The Cougars led by double figures at the end of every quarter but the first and had 15-point leads in each half.
Three players scored in double figures and another had double-digits in rebounds.
It was the first time in head coach Luke Meredith’s four seasons the Cougars won the opener. It was also Meredith’s first win, in three tries, over his alma mater.
“I’m just proud of the way our guys competed,” Meredith said. “All week, we were locked in. The first week of practice I didn’t think we were great. This week, it just clicked. We played Warren Central (in a scrimmage) and we realized, we can be really good. There are a lot of things we have to clean up and shore up, but it allowed us to believe in ourselves that we can play with anybody.”
Four-year starter and Marian University recruit Dylan Moles led all scorers with 24 points. He broke the 3-3 tie with a bucket off a turnover, assisted by backcourt mate Tyler Kerkhof. Then, Moles hit a 3 after another G-C forced turnover. He had 14 first-half points and hit big buckets in the final period when the Hornets tried to make a run.
Beech Grove’s Adrian Holland hit a 3 with 3:38 remaining to cut the Cougars lead to 52-46. Moles followed with a 2-point jumper just right of the lane. After a Hornet turnover, Moles scored on a baseline drive to get the lead back to double figures. Then, in transition off a defensive rebound, the senior star completed his 6-0 run to bump the Cougar lead to 58-46 with 2:04 remaining.
“It went pretty much exactly how you would want it for the first game, especially against the reigning state champs,” Moles said. “Coming away with a win is always nice.
“I think in past years, in our first game we have come out passive and not as aggressive as we should be. We let the nerves get to is. I think we came in with confidence. We had a good scrimmage against Warren and we let that carry over and played well and with confidence.”
Sophomore Braylon Mullins finished with 20 points. When Beech Grove made runs in the third quarter. It was Mullins that had the answers. Hampered much of the first half in foul trouble, Mullins scored 15 of his 20 points in the third quarter when he went 5 of 7 from the field and 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
Four times Beech Grove cut the G-C lead to eight or nine points and each time Mullins answered to put the margin back into double figures. Three times he did with a 3-pointer.
Kerkhof finished with 10 points, including seven in the final quarter. Senior Will DeJarnett aided the cause with 11 rebounds.
Jeremiah Alexander led Beech Grove with 14 points. Tate scored 10.
Beech Grove won its last 11 games in the 2021-22 season. It’s last loss prior to Tuesday was also against a Hancock County team. They were defeated 82-68 by Mt. Vernon on Feb. 12.
Greenfield-Central 62, Beech Grove 47
Beech Grove (0-1): Jaleel Edwards 1 1-2 3, Jeremiah Alexander 4 4-4 14, Cam Brown 3 0-1 7, Adrian Holland 2 2-2 8, Jeremiah Tate 3 3-4 10, Skylar Thacker 0 0-0 0, Rylan Horen 1 3-3 5, Logan Muffler 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 13-16 47
Greenfield-Central (1-0): Braylon Mullins 8 0-0 20, Will DeJarnett 0 1-2 1, Cameron Stump 1 0-0 3, Tyler Kerkhof 2 4-5 10 , Dylan Moles 9 4-4 24, Braden Robertson 1 0-0 2, Jake Hinton 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 9-11 62.
3-point goals: Beech Grove 6 (Alexander 2, Holland 2, Brown, Tate); Greenfield-Central 9 (Mullins 4, Moles 2, Kerkhof 2, Stump)