Greenwood, Center Grove boys reach sectional final

<p>Greenwood’s boys basketball team has been living dangerously this week at the Class 4A Whiteland Sectional.</p><p>The key word there for the Woodmen, though, is &quot;living.&quot; And after pulling out a 44-41 victory on Friday night over the host Warriors, they still are.</p><p>&quot;It’s survive and advance,&quot; Greenwood coach Joe Bradburn said.</p><p>The Woodmen (18-5) advance to tonight’s championship game against Center Grove, which got off to a torrid start and led wire to wire in a 64-40 win over Shelbyville.</p>[sc:text-divider text-divider-title="Story continues below gallery" ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery<p>Trailing for most of the night, Greenwood’s fortunes changed with a stretch of just over seven minutes in the third and fourth quarters holding Whiteland (12-10) without a field goal. The Warriors only committed eight turnovers all night, but several of them came during that critical block of time.</p><p>&quot;We really haven’t struggled a ton with traps and presses this year, and just in that moment, we made the wrong look,&quot; Whiteland coach Nate Cangany said. &quot;Those turnovers got us, and obviously it gave them a way to score a few easy baskets.&quot;</p><p>A Noah Apgar putback and a Ty Moore 3 to end the third quarter helped Greenwood tie the game at 28-28, and three Rasheed Elemikan baskets — along with a big 3 from Charlie Brooks — built the Woodmen a 39-31 cushion with 1:59 remaining in the game. The Warriors put together a late surge, cutting it to 43-41 when Max Sullivan got a friendly bounce on a top-of-the-key 3 with 33 seconds remaining. But Elemikan tacked on a free throw and Whiteland’s two shots to tie in the closing moments missed the mark.</p><p>Whiteland senior Logan Willoughby had the hot hand early on, scoring 11 points in the first 8:37 of action to help the Warriors to an early 13-5 advantage. Greenwood was still down by seven with 4:57 left in the half, but it got a 3-pointer from Brooks and a post bucket from Elemikan to cut the deficit to 16-14 by the intermission.</p><p>Six points from Drew Higdon early in the third quarter helped Whiteland grow the lead a little bit, but after Willoughby knocked down a jumper to make it 28-22 with 2:14 left in the period, the Warriors went the next 7:08 without another field goal.</p><p>During that span, the Woodmen outscored Whiteland 13-1 and took control of the game. Bradburn pointed to bench contributions from Brooks and big man Adam Ellinghausen as one of the keys to the turnaround.</p><p>Elemikan finished with 16 points, five rebounds and two blocks for the Woodmen, while Brooks scored 11. Willoughby finished with a game-high 20 for the Warriors, followed by Quinten Gillespie with eight.</p><p>Center Grove (13-6) created some immediate separation in the nightcap, storming out to leads of 13-0 and 20-3 in the first quarter. Charlie Bemis knocked down a couple of corner 3s early to help get the Trojans going.</p><p>&quot;I just felt like we had some pace,&quot; Center Grove junior Tayven Jackson said. &quot;We thought they were going to come out and hold the ball like every other team, but they didn’t. … We did a good job creating our own pace and creating our own shots.&quot;</p><p>Shelbyville opened the second period with a 7-0 burst and got back as close as 24-15 late in the half, but Center Grove scored seven in a row to restore a double-digit cushion that lasted the rest of the way.</p><p>Marcus Ankney and Jackson led a balanced Trojan offense with 15 and  14 points, respectively. Mason Long chipped in seven points, while Bemis, Ethan Jones and Jordan Vaughns tallied six apiece. Bemis supplemented his six points with 11 rebounds, including five on the offensive end.</p><p>&quot;One of our focuses was just trying to get the ball moving around, make easy plays every time down,&quot; Center Grove coach Zach Hahn said. &quot;For the most part, we did that. We had several guys get in the book scoring. The defensive start was really good for us, though, to really get out and play the way we want to play.&quot;</p><p>Though Whiteland’s season came to a close Friday, Cangany is hopeful that the improvements of this year — the Warriors went from six wins to 12 in his second season at the helm — will carry over toward the future.</p><p>&quot;The way they were playing was just the identity that we want to play with,&quot; Cangany said. &quot;They’ve now set the tone for what we want Warrior basketball to look like for the next couple of years.&quot;</p><p>Greenwood and Center Grove, meanwhile, aren’t looking any further ahead than tonight’s championship clash.</p><p>&quot;We’ve been in this spot before,&quot; Elemikan said, &quot;so I feel like our guys are more mature about it and more calm and collected about it. … We want to win. We have that hunger in ourselves and I see that in our players’ eyes.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Both teams kind of are who they are,&quot; Hahn added. &quot;I anticipate that they’re going to come out and be them, and we’re going to come out and be us, and the team that scores the most points at the end of the night will win the game.&quot;</p>