NEW CASTLE — The first eight minutes of the opening game of the regional set the tone for an exciting, up-and-down the court game between the Bulldogs of Batesville and the Howe Hornets.

The final four minutes of the third quarter proved pivotal as the Bulldogs went on a 12-4 run to head to the fourth quarter with a 52-43 lead.

After Batesville pushed the lead to 12 points early in the fourth quarter, the Hornets stormed back with a 15-4 run in a two minutes stretch to cut the deficit two four points, 62-58.

The Bulldogs answered with a 5-0 run and gradually pulled away to post the 83-73 victory.

Howe jumped out to a 5-2 lead on a triple by 5-9 point guard Larry Stone. After Alex Grimsley scored four straight, Stone drained another bomb. Teammate Greg Foster also connected from long range and the Hornets led by four.

Batesville regained the lead as Alex Siefert hit from behind the arc. Matt Wallpe scored as the Bulldogs beat the Hornet press and Batesville was up by two, 17-15, with three minutes to play in the opening quarter.

Grimsley gave the Bulldogs a four-point lead but the Hornets got the finals six points to close the first quarter with a 21-19 lead.

Foster’s triple early in the second quarter had the Hornet lead up to five, 26-21.

Grimsley hit from behind the arc to tie the game at 26-26.

Howe’s Carlton Brown scored four straight for the Hornets, but Colt Ryan countered with five straight—including a 3-pointer to close the half with Batesville on top 33-32.

The third quarter was close in the early going with the largest lead being 40-36 on a Ryan bucket for Batesville. Howe got a triple from Terry Hill to close the deficit to 40-39.

That is when the Bulldogs began to pull away.

Five straight points from Siefert started the surge. A 3-pointer and two free throws by Ryan were followed by a bucket at the horn by Grimsley as the Bulldogs headed to the final eight minutes leading 52-43.

Another Siefert bucket had the lead to 55-43. The Hornets then began to swarm and got back in the game behind their leader Stone. Over the next two minutes, Howe outscored Batesville 15-4 with Stone scoring 11 of those points and assisting on the other four.

Suddenly, it was a game again with Batesville’s lead cut to 62-58.

Grimsley’s rebound bucket and Steve Vonderheide’s free throw had the lead back to eight. Grimsley’s two free throws pushed the lead back to double digits and the Bulldogs were back in control, 70-60.

That 10 point spread was the final margin as Batesville hit 11 free throws down the stretch to seal a trip to the regional final.

Brebeuf 69, New Castle 67

Brebeuf never looked intimidated against the No. 2 Trojans. The Braves challenged the Trojans from the opening tip both offensively and defensively.

The defensive pressure proved to be key as a Trojan turnover late in the game gave the Braves the opportunity and they capitalized with the 69-67 upset in the second semifinal.

Brebeuf’s Ryan Russell scored to open the game, but New Castle came back with a bucket from Butler-bound Zach Hahn and Chase Stigall.

A 3-pointer from Ryan McDaniel had the Braves back in front and a bomb from Keaton Gachaw pushed the Brave lead to 8-4. That matched the largest lead for either team in the first half of this back-and-forth regional battle.

New Castle tied the game on a bucket by Hahn, but did not grab the lead until a triple from Luke Bennett closed the scoring in the first half with the Trojans leading 16-15.

Two free throws from Hahn had the lead up to three, but a 3-pointer from Russell tied the game at 18-18.

New Castle took a 22-21 lead on free throws by Bobby Carroll. McDaniel responded with another long triple and the Braves were back on top 24-22. McDaniel’s three-point play pushed the lead to four points.

The Trojans scored the final five points of the half—a 3-pointer from Hahn and two free throws from Bennett—to hold a slim 30-29 lead at the break.

New Castle looked to putting the game away during a stretch in the third quarter, but the Braves would not go away.

Poor free throw shooting in the second half by the Trojans allowed the Braves to stay in the game.

Turnovers, somewhat uncharacteristic for this Trojan team, also plague New Castle.

The tight game went down to the wire with the Trojans leading by two late in the contest. A Trojan turnover gave the ball back to Brebeuf.

With :08.9 on the clock in the fourth quarter, Russell scored and drew the foul. He completed the three-point play to push the Braves in front by two, 69-67.

New Castle could not come up with the big play in the final seconds and the Braves ended the Trojans’ hope of Class 3A state title repeat. Brebeuf advanced to the regional final.

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