Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 8, 2013

Only the best await Pirates in regionals

Nick Gonnella
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The opportunity begins tomorrow morning for the Greensburg boys basketball team. Less than 24 hours separate Greensburg from resuming its pursuit of the ultimate prize - an IHSAA state championship.

The Pirates, ranked second in the Associated Press Class 3A poll, have a chance to show they aren’t just the best team in the area. The only competition remaining for the Pirates are teams that also won sectional championships.

Greensburg’s journey begins at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in the Class 3A Washington Regional against fifth-ranked Evansville Bosse (19-5).

One of Greensburg’s two losses in its past 47 games overall occurred a year ago when Brownstown Central upset the Pirates 64-57 in last year’s regional semifinal, at the same location.

Now, 23 games and 22 wins later, the Pirates look to build on their championship resume. Head coach Stacy Meyer’s club won its second straight outright Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference title, and is coming off its second straight sectional crown. The Pirates dominated South Dearborn 76-33 in the first round, pulled away from a game Batesville rival 77-65 in the semifinal, then outran Madison in the second half of Saturday’s championship.

Defeating a Bosse team with just as much talent, though, will go a long way in validating Greensburg’s standing among the state’s best. The Bosse Bulldogs navigated a regular-season schedule loaded with the best competition in the state. Bosse defeated the top-ranked state in Illinois and took a handful of bigger schools to the wire several times. It fell to Class 4A Jeffersonville (22-3) by one point in the season opener, and split a pair against 4A Evansville Harrison (22-1), another sectional champion. Bosse defeated Mount Vernon (Posey) 81-62 Saturday for the sectional title.

For comparison’s sake, Greensburg’s opposition is 242-260 (48.2 percent), while Bosse’s is 293-188 (60.9 percent), according to John Harrell’s Web site.

One glance at the Bulldogs’ roster would show why the target is on head coach Shane Burkhart’s team. Jalen Pendleton, who led Bosse to last year’s regional title over Brownstown Central, has graduated. However, the Bulldogs have more than made up for his absence. Bosse boasts three standouts with Division I caliber, led by junior guard JaQuan Lyle. Attracting the interest of schools like Indiana, Purdue, Kansas State, Miami (Fla.) and Michigan State (among several others), Lyle is a threat to put up a triple-double every game. He averages 27 points, more than 13 rebounds and nearly seven assists. He and junior teammate Perry Fairrow are one of the rare pairs of teammates in Indiana averaging 20 points per game.

What Lyle and three of Greensburg’s starters have in common, though, are three years of experience as varsity starters. Greensburg junior forward Sean Sellers and junior guards Macy Holdsworth and Bryant McIntosh, have a combined nine years under their belt as starters. Sellers, who recently passed the 1,000-point mark and is just four points from tying the school career scoring record of 1,226, has led the team in scoring, rebounding and free throw shooting all three years. He’s also led Decatur County in scoring the past two seasons. In Saturday’s title game, Sellers produced 17 points and 12 rebounds, including 13-for-18 from the free throw line. He shot 27-for-32 (84 percent) from the stripe in the sectional tournament.

Holdsworth, the team’s most potent 3-point shooter, has scored 168 points this season - including 41 in the sectional and team-best seven triples. McIntosh, second in the county in scoring with 376 points - including a team-high 53 in the sectionals - leads the Pirates in assists. Sophomore Ryan Welage, a 6-foot-8 power forward, has scored 297 (40 in sectionals) and has gained confidence and strength inside over the past several months.

Junior guard Collin Rigney has not played like a first-year starter, scoring 163 points (24 in sectionals). Rigney also is dangerous from beyond the arc and is proficient defensively.

The Pirate attack doesn’t end with the lineup. A deep bench led by three senior subs has been crucial on the defensive end with Tyler Burcham, Shane Ploeger and Riley Billieu. The trio has chipped in 174 points in 23 games.

Juniors Tom Lawrence, Tye Fleetwood and Brad Wilson, along with freshman Drew Foster have played valuable minutes off the bench during the tournament.

Stacy Meyer is 114-47 (70.8 percent) in his seventh year at Greensburg and 172-103 (62.5 percent) in his 12th year overall. Burkhart is 81-41 (66 percent) in his fifth year at Bosse.

If Greensburg advances, it will either play Vincennes Lincoln (18-6) or Brownstown Central (23-1). The Braves, who joined Class 3A two years ago, won their second 3A sectional title last week after winning three straight 2A sectional crowns. They clinched the outright Mid-Southern Conference title with a 9-0 mark.

Coached by 15th-year head coach Dave Benter (259-102) the Braves have two seniors and three juniors who start. Two standout seniors lead the Braves after the graduation of guard Jalen Snodgrass and his 22.1 points per game. Forward Brett McCory (408 points, 17 per game) topped 1,000 career points Saturday, scoring a team-high 23 points and adding 11 rebounds in the Braves’ 55-50 overtime win over Corydon Central. McCory and center Skylar Thompson (317; 13.2) are capable of scoring from inside and outside. Junior guard Chaz Schneider (352; 14.6) is also a 3-point threat.

Brownstown Central will tip off against Vincennes Lincoln at approximately 12 p.m.

Ready to avenge last year’s first-round regional loss, Greensburg enters the state tournament’s next tier with momentum. The Pirates have won 11 straight games, all by double digits. However, that streak resets to zero entering tomorrow’s game as Greensburg sets sail to prevent Bosse from advancing to the Bulldogs’ second straight regional championship.

Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.