GREENCASTLE — North Montgomery left it all on the floor Saturday night in the Class 3A Sectional No. 25 final against Danville.
The Warriors pulled away for a 59-47 win to secure their third sectional title in four years, but not before a gutsy performance from the Chargers in attempt to knock off the No. 7 ranked team in the state.
“Saw a bunch of guys with heart,” Charger first-year coach Chad Arnold said. “The way a Charger should play. That’s what we want, and I knew they could do it. I knew they could play with these guys.”
The Warriors defeated the Chargers 69-40 back in mid January, and entered the game with a positive scoring margin of 22.
North Montgomery (13-11) led 12-10 after a quarter, and trailed by just three (38-35) after three quarters before Danville (22-4) was able to create any type of separation.
Clinging to a 42-41 lead with 4:56 left, Danville went on a 9-0 run and held North Montgomery scoreless for 3:32 of action. Peyton Roof led the charge with five straight points including one of his four 3-pointers. The senior led all scorers with 19 points.
“My team really found me where I wanted to be,” Roof said. “It’s definitely a team game. I feel like we have so many weapons we don’t really care who is scoring. It’s an unselfish group and hopefully it keeps rolling.”
Danville will play Beech Grove at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the semifinal of the Greencastle Regional.
While most teams that have had success against the Warriors this season found it with a zone defense, Arnold felt like man-to-man was the only option, and it worked.
“We just wanted to stay attached to guys,” he said. “We didn’t double or have help defense, it was all one-on-one defense. They’re such a good passing team and we wanted to take that away.”
Each team connected on 20-of-42 shots from the field, while the Chargers knocked down seven 3-pointers to the Warriors’ four. The glaring difference came at the free throw line where Danville made 24 trips and knocked down 15, while North Montgomery never stepped to the line.
While North Montgomery succeeded in controlling the tempo of the game, Danville pulled the last straw by converting at the charity stripe. “North Montgomery did a great job,” Danville coach Brian Barber, who has now guided the Warriors to eight sectional titles in the last 15 years, said. “They had a great game a plan and were real patient. They were making the extra pass and they’re a solid team. They’ve got good senior leadership. We knew it was going to be a grind and we were able to pull away at the end and hit some free throws.”
Senior Alex Wallace led the Chargers with 16 points, while Preston Shaw added nine, and Jack Thompson chipped in eight. Dillon Ware added 17 points for the Warriors, while Kobe Ward chipped in 11. The Chargers will graduate Kade Kobel, Jaron Bradford, and Keifer Carmean in addition to Shaw, Thompson, and Wallace.
“They gave it their all,” Arnold said. “They shouldn’t have hung their heads and they should be proud of what they’ve done, and I think they’ve started something in our program.”
Led by those six seniors, North Montgomery turned a five win team in 2019 into 13 wins this season in Arnold’s first year at the helm.
The winner of Danville and Beech Grove (16-7) will play the winner of Brebeuf (18-6), who the Warriors beat 76-55 in the regular season, and Brownstown Central (11-15). The Warriors are looking to return to the semi-state for the second time in three years, which includes a 64-61 loss to eventual state-runner up Evansville Bosse in 2018.
“If you don’t keep them out of transition you’re in trouble,” Arnold said of the recipe for success against the Warriors. “And you have to keep them in the half-court.”
North Montgomery did both on Saturday night, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Chargers fell short in search of their first sectional title since 2009.
Danville 59, North Montgomery 47
NM 12 10 13 12 — 47
DV 10 13 15 21 — 59
NM (13-11): Logan Kelly 0-1 0-0 0, Jakob Kirsch 0-0 0-0 0, Jaron Bradford 2-9 0-0 6, Zak Searle 2-3 0-0 4, Kade Kobel 1-3 0-0 2, Preston Shaw 4-6 0-0 9, Kolton Scrimager 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Wallace 6-13 0-0 16, Nick Norman 0-0 0-0 0, Brayden Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Jack Thompson 4-5 0-0 8, Keifer Carmean 1-2 0-0 2; Totals 20-42 0-0 47.