GREENFIELD – Getting tougher.
That was Greenfield-Central head coach Bradley Key’s message to the team after Friday’s 55-19 loss to Mt. Vernon, and just four days later they showed that they could get tougher.
On Senior Night, the Cougars (13-9, 5-2) battled back to earn a 48-45 come-from-behind Hoosier Heritage Conference victory over the visiting Yorktown Tigers (8-11, 3-3).
“Super proud that they continued to fight and battled back. We talked Saturday morning that it’s just life. It wasn’t a great night, but you’ve got to keep battling every day,” Key said. “We had a good practice Saturday, good practice Monday, and believed that we could come out and win. That’s a very good Yorktown team. It’s a good conference win, and a huge win for our program.”
“This is the first time we have had a winning record in five years. We’ve battled, and it’s been a tough, long road, but I’m super proud of those seniors for sticking with us. I’m happy for them to feel that joy tonight.”
After a back-and-forth opening half in which the Cougars trailed for the majority, a Chaney Brown layup at the end of the third quarter gave Greenfield-Central a 30-28 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
But the lead was short-lived after a Camryn Isaacs layup to open the quarter tied it up.
On the next possession, it was Isaacs striking again, this time from 3, to give the Tigers a 33-30 lead. Over the next three minutes of game time, the Tigers increased their lead to 38-32.
From there, the Cougars made their push.
An Aryana Hibbard steal and assist to Brooklyn McConnell for a layup and foul kicked off the G-C comeback, but it was sophomore Brown that finished it.
Down 40-35, Brown reeled off six unanswered points. She sank two free throws, drove for a contested layup, and hit a deep 3 to give the Cougars the lead.
Brown scored 10 of her game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter.
“This season, Chaney has been the focal point for a lot of other teams when we play them, and I thought that tonight she put us on her shoulders, and we were kind of running everything through her. I thought she had an outstanding game,” Key said. “She’s been putting in a lot of work herself, and she’s been really hard on herself. We kind of got away from her in the middle of the year to try and get some other people involved, but after watching Mt. Vernon, we realized we’ve just got to go to Chaney. She’s dynamic, can shoot it, and can drive.”
While Brown was the one fueling the scoring for the Cougars, others made big plays to help seal the win.
On Brown’s go-ahead 3-pointer, it was the senior, Hibbard, calling the play to get Brown open.
“Aryana played a great game. When Chaney hit that 3 late, Hibb called that play,” Key said. “That’s just what you want to see from a senior leader.”
With Yorktown fouling late in the game, McConnell went 5-for-5 from the line, and was second to Brown in scoring with 12 points.
“I thought Brooklyn kind of struggled against Mt. Vernon, but tonight she did a great job of getting in the lanes and doing all the things that we talk about,” Key said. “We want to see that on game night, so I’m really proud of her.”
In a three-point game in the final 30 seconds, and on a night in which the Cougars were outsized and out rebounded all night long, senior Kammi Anderson drew a foul and hit one of two free throws to move the Greenfield-Central lead to four.
“Kammi had a block out at the end that was a game-changer,” Key said. “A kid that just stuck with us for four years, and never really got a ton of minutes her sophomore year or junior year, and then this year she’s been huge for us.”
The contribution from the entire team was no more important than in the second quarter with Brown in foul trouble. After scoring all nine of G-C points in the opening quarter, Brown picked up her second foul just two minutes into the quarter and sat the remainder of the half.
The Cougars weathered the storm to go into the half down just three points.
“She was out for five minutes in the second quarter, and our group stuck together,” Key said. “That’s why I’m big on that we have to have seven players that can play, and this is a great example. It’s a great team win because we were able to survive without her, and that’s what you coach for.”
The Cougars’ next game is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Southport.
Greenfield-Central 48, Yorktown 45
Yorktown;9;14;5;17; — ;45
Greenfield-Central;9;11;10;18; — ;48
Yorktown (8-11, 3-3): Camryn Isaacs 4 0-1 9, Lilly Sylvester 3 0-0 7, Amari Wright 4 4-6 13, Jenna Sylvester 0 1-2 1, Raya Tewari 2 0-1 5, Jayde Garrett 2 2-4 6, Addy Barnes 1 1-2 4. Totals: 16 8-16 45.
Greenfield-Central (13-9, 5-2): Chaney Brown 8 6-7 23, Brooklyn McConnell 3 5-5 12, Aryana Hibbard 2 0-2 6, Katie Holmes 0 0-0 0, Jalyn Smith 0 0-0 0, Taylor Smith 0 0-1 0, Kammi Anderson 2 2-3 7. Totals: 15 13-18 48.
3-point goals: Yorktown 5 (Wright 1, Barnes 1, Tewari 1, Isaacs 1, L. Sylvester 1), Greenfield-Central 5 (Hibbard 2, McConnell 1, Anderson 1, Brown 1)