Recent history has taken the liberty of penciling Whiteland and Center Grove into Saturday night’s championship game of the Johnson County Boys Basketball Tournament.
Whether an eraser is required is up to their semifinal opponents.
Third-seeded Indian Creek, fresh off Tuesday’s 71-66 defeat of Franklin in the first round, has come up short in 11 of its past 13 games against the Warriors.
Meanwhile, Greenwood’s most recent victory against the Trojans occurred in February 2006. The Woodmen have since lost 12 straight to Center Grove, including a 62-43 decision this season.
Indian Creek plays No. 2 seed Whiteland in tonight’s first semifinal at Greenwood. The host Woodmen then take the floor — wearing green as the designated road team, no less — to battle the top-seeded Trojans.
Play resumes Saturday at Greenwood with Franklin and Edinburgh playing the fifth-place game at 4 p.m., followed by the consolation and championship games.
Indian Creek coach Derek Perry knows his squad must play one of its best games to get past Whiteland, owner of a somewhat deceiving 5-6 mark after losing those games by a total of 26 points, an average of 4.3.
The Warriors are six days removed from playing at Greenwood, having defeated the Woodmen 61-51 in the team’s annual regular-season matchup.
“Whiteland has had a lot of close games against good teams where they haven’t been able to finish,” Perry said. “They’re going to be a load because it’s a well-rounded team.”
The Warriors are led by gritty 6-4 junior forward Tom Purdie, owner of team-best averages in scoring (16.9) and rebounds (9.8). His 12 steals tops Warriors players, while his 33 assists are second.
Mike Valle, a 6-5 sophomore, averages 9.8 points per game for Whiteland. He’s followed closely by junior guards Terr’e Moss (9.0) and Will Higdon (8.4).
Indian Creek on Tuesday achieved nice balance offensively with senior guard Dylan Phair scoring 23, junior forward Gynson Robley scoring 17, and 6-1 senior guard Spencer Wood adding 15.
Wood drew the defensive assignment on Franklin’s high-scoring Cameron Smith for much of the second half.
“Spencer just goes out there, does his thing and does it quietly,” Perry said. “I’ll tell you what, though, he can play at both ends of the floor. Our players stayed composed with only eight turnovers for the game.
“It was a big game, but we were able to take care of the basketball finish the game.”
Greenwood punched its ticket for a place in tonight’s second semifinal behind 15 points from 5-9 senior guard Alex Rapp and 11 from junior guard Justin Conley.
Spencer Isenthall, the Woodmen’s 6-4 senior forward, continues to set the pace in points (13.7) and rebounds (9.5). Conley holds a 10.4 scoring average, with Rapp next at 9.4.
Neither Indian Creek nor Greenwood has qualified for the championship game since the tournament was resurrected in 2005 after a 39-year absence.
Center Grove, which has captured the event a record 18 times, has made the title game each of the past 10 seasons.
Whiteland made the final in 2008, 2009 and 2011 but last celebrated a county championship in 1955.
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Indian Creek (8-3) vs. Whiteland (5-6), 6 p.m.
Greenwood (3-8) vs. Center Grove (7-4), 7:30 p.m.
Franklin Community (4-8) vs. Edinburgh (7-6), 4 p.m.
Consolation, 5:45 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.