GREENCASTLE — It’s time to party like it’s 1994. The Southmont Mounties are sectional champions after defeating Parke Heritage 65-48 in Saturday’s Class 2A Sectional 43 championship game.
The Mounties couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as they led the Wolves 15-6 after the opening quarter and doubled the Wolves score going into the locker room at 32-16. Their biggest lead would come in the third where the Mounties held a commanding 41-18 lead. After three quarters South would take a 45-31 advantage into the final eight minutes but the battle-tested Wolves wouldn’t go away without one last fight. Parke Heritage to begin the fourth would outscore the Mounties 14-5 and get the deficit all the way down to 50-45. But as the Mounties just like they did against North Putnam in the semi-finals, knocked down their free-throws when they needed to and they’d outscore the Wolves 15-3 the rest of the way to clinch the sectional title.
For Coach Jake Turner, this marks his first sectional championship in his eight seasons as a head coach. He and the Mounties soaked in the moment of getting to cut down the nets for the first time.
“It’s just an amazing feeling,” Turner said of the sectional championship. “I’ve put in a lot of work, our staff has put in a lot of work and most importantly our kids have put in a lot of work. Avery and Logan started off winning four games their freshman season and now in their final season here they stand county, conference, and sectional champions with setting the record for school wins. It’s because of the work ethic that these guys have put in that we’re standing here right now as sectional champions. When we play smart, we’re really tough to beat.”
For Turner the sectional title is a little extra special. Turner’s father in 1977 won a sectional title as a player with North Montgomery. His father unfortunately passed away in 2010 and Turner made sure to dedicate the win to his late father.
Logan Oppy led all scorers with 24 points in the championship win for the Mounties. Fellow senior Avery Saunders scored 22. Saunders and Oppy also were the ones who iced the game for the Mounties at the free-throw line. For the game the duo went 18-23 as Southmont went 26-35 (74%) from the charity stripe. Kion Cornelius added seven points for South while both EJ Brewer and Carson Chadd scored six.
Christian Johnson led the Wolves with 17 points while Anthony Wood scored 12. Noble Johnson scored nine, Brayden Luce 6, and Renn Harper 4.
“That first half I really thought was about as well as we’ve played all year,” Turner said. “It couldn’t have come at a better moment. You have to give coach Schelsky and Parke Heritage a ton of credit for clawing back in. We were able to get stops when we needed to down the stretch, take care of the basketball, and hit our free-throws and we held on.”
Schelsky while on the losing end as the Wolves season comes a close at 16-10, has all the respect for Turner and the Mounties and spoke very highly of Southmont after the game.
“I hate losing, but if I can root for somebody, I’ll root for them and their coaches because they do it the right way,” he said. “I’m happy for them and you have to give them a ton of credit. They came out and punched us in the face and looked like a team on a mission tonight.”
Oppy who had been going through a little bit of a rough patch his last few games, came out and played arguably his best game of the season when his team needed him the most. Including an 8-10 performance from the free-throw line, Oppy went 6-9 from the field. He talked about helping the Mounties make history.
“We knew we could do it and had the guys to do it,” the senior guard said. “We just had to put it all together at the right time and that’s what we were able to do. Tonight my shot was just falling. I wasn’t really thinking about it, it just happened.”
Turner couldn’t say enough about Oppy’s performance as well as Saunders as this time of the year is built for senior leaders to step up. Southmont’s two biggest players all season did just that when the Mounties needed them most.
“Logan is a great kid and a great worker,” he said. “Last week he struggled in a few of our games and was really hard on himself. In the biggest game of the though he stepped up to the plate for us. I thought Avery got almost every defensive rebound that he could tonight down the stretch. If you want to win in March, you have to have great seniors and I’m really proud of them.”
With the victory the Mounties notch their 19th win of the season and improve to 19-6. They advance to Saturday’s Regional at Greenfield Central High School where they will take on Eastern Hancock (20-5) in the first game which is scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m.
“We accomplished four out of our five goals that we set out for at the beginning of the season, but maybe it’s time to add a sixth goal,” Turner said with a big smile on his face. “We’re really going to enjoy this for a few days and then start to prepare for Eastern Hancock. This is a whole new experience for me so I’m going to reach out to some of my fellow coaches on how to prepare for Saturday, but those are problems I’m glad we have.”
It’s been a special run for the Mounties and they’ll look to add to what’s arguably been their best season in school history next Saturday.