Knights advance to semi-state

By Eric Christiansen

The hot streak continues.
After starting the season with an 0-5 record, the Southwood Knights are on a six-game, dominating, winning streak that includes a sectional championship, and now a regional title, after defeating Blue River Valley Saturday, March 11.
The Knights went into their regional game with a 12-12 record and dominated the 20-6, 11th ranked Vikings in the second half of the one-game regional at Frankfort.
“It’s a great compliment to these boys,” Southwood head coach Christian Perry said. “For these seniors to come back to Frankfort – where we got beat last year –  to come in here to win it this year…I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
Southwood was ready to play from the start, taking a 7-0 lead in the first 2 1/2 minutes.
Blue River Valley regrouped to cut the lead to 8-6 midway through the first quarter, then, the Vikings’ leading scorer Wyatt Thornburgh got his team going.
The senior hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the first quarter to help BRV take a 14-13 lead.
The Knights regained the lead on two free throws, one each from Dylan Stout and Jason Oprisek, but Thornburgh gave the lead back to the Vikings, a lead they held on to through halftime, 24-21.
“(Number) 35 (Thornburgh) was definitely hurting us in the first half so we had to focus on him,” Perry said. “He hit a lot of shots in the first half and was kind of carrying them.
“On the other end, we had 12 turnovers in the first half,” he continued. “We had to clean that up and play basketball.”
Mission accomplished.
Not only did the Knights clean things up, they held Thornburgh scoreless in the second half.
Southwood came out of the locker room with a three-quarter court defensive press that gave BRV fits.
Oprisek opened the half with a bucket and Nathan Lehner gave the Knights the lead on a steal and layup in the first 27 seconds of the third quarter.
After a Viking basket gave them a 26-25 lead, Southwood went to work.
Stout nailed a 3-pointer, followed by a steal and layup in an eight-second span to give the Knights a 30-26 lead.
Oprisek scored on back-to-back baskets in the paint, followed by a jumper from Jaret Denny, to open the game up to a 10-point lead at 36-26.
The Knights took a 43-32 lead into the fourth quarter where Will Winer started the final eight minutes with two free throws followed by a three-point play from Lehner to make it a 48-32 advantage.
BRV answered with five consecutive points, cutting the Southwood lead to 48-37 with 3:08 remaining, but the Knights rode it out for the 15-point victory and the regional title.
Coach Perry attributed his team’s victory, in part, to their third-quarter performance.
“That third quarter, we put up 22 points, and that was from steals,” he said. “Our pressure early on (in the game) didn’t look like it was doing anything, but it was kind of tapping away at the ice, and a little later, with the pressure we had, it broke. It wore them down.
“Defense definitely won the game for us,” he continued. I thought we were fortunate to be down three with 12 turnovers, and we hadn’t really done anything defensively. We had a great third quarter and continued that in the fourth quarter.”
Oprisek was a force inside and defensively and led the Knights with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and three steals, while Lehner was just as effective with 15 points, five rebounds, three steals, and one assist.
Stout was big with nine points, seven rebounds, five steals, four blocks, and one assist, with Cole Winer right there with him with eight points, seven rebounds, five assists, four steals, and one block, while Will Winer threw in seven points with four steals, three rebounds, and one assist.
Denny finished with three points and one assist, followed by Bryce Wilcox with two rebounds, two blocks, one steal, and timely defense inside.
The Knights take their 13-12 record to the Class 1A Semi-State at Lafayette Jefferson this Saturday, March 18, where they take on No. 2 Fountain Central and their 23-4 record at 10 a.m. in the first game of the day.
Marquette Catholic (20-7) faces Kouts (17-9) in the second game of the day at noon with the winners of the two games playing for a semi-state championship at 8 p.m.

Posted on 2023 Mar 14