Knights fall at semi-state

By Eric Christiansen

After four dominating wins and a buzzer-beating classic in the IHSAA boys basketball state tournament series, the Southwood Knights didn’t have an answer for Kouts in the Class 1A North Semi-State game at Lafayette Jefferson Saturday, March 20, falling to the 29-2 Mustangs 86-70, and ending a magical run with a 17-11 record.

The Kouts senior brother tandem of Cole Wireman and Cale Wireman gave Southwood fits, with Cole scoring 29 points on the day, and Cale right behind him with 26 points.

Southwood’s Carson Rich led the Knights with 30 points, but with all Mustang eyes on the senior sharpshooter, he wasn’t ever able to break loose with a knockout punch as he had throughout the tournament.

Southwood appeared to be ready to continue its hot streak by taking a quick 4-0 lead with a basket from Cole Winer followed by a steal and layup from Logan Barley.

An inside score from Dawson Filip and two free throws from Carson Rich gave the Knights an 8-2 lead two minutes into the contest, but Kouts answered back.

Cole Wireman scored four points and Cale Wireman added two in an 8-2 run to tie the game at 10-10.

Carson Rich and Cale Wireman traded three-pointers, then Winer and the Mustang’s Hunter Kneifel traded baskets, with Kneifel adding a free throw on a three-point play, giving Kouts a 16-15 lead with 3:01 left in the first quarter.

The trading of baskets continued with Connor Rich, Winer, and Carson Rich all scoring, only to have the Mustangs answer each score with baskets of their own.

The teams traded the lead five times and were tied on three different occasions in the first quarter, but with the score tied 22-22 with 22 seconds left, Kouts scored the last five points, including a buzzer-beating steal and layup from Cale Wireman, to give the Mustangs a 27-22 lead.

The Knights started the second quarter with an 8-2 run with four points from Carson Rich, two from Connor Rich, and two from Winer, taking a 30-29 lead two minutes into the second half.

Kouts responded with a 9-2 run to reclaim the lead, 38-32 with 4:41 left in the first half, and extended the lead to 50-42 at halftime.

After a three-pointer from Winer cut the lead to 50-45 to start the second half, Kouts scored eight of the next 10 points to take a 58-47 lead with 4:44 left in the third quarter, and led 64-54 heading to the fourth quarter.

Southwood couldn’t find the hot hand in the early going in the fourth quarter and Kouts extended its lead to 74-58 with 4:02 left.

The Knights gave one last push with six consecutive points, four from Carson Rich and two from Winer, to make it a 10-point game with 3:08 remaining.

Carson Rich added two three-pointers in the final 1:20 but it wasn’t enough.

Carson Rich led the Knights with 30 points, followed by Winer with 20, and Filip with 10. Connor Rich had six points while Barley had four.

Southwood started the season with a 2-6 record and stood at 8-10 midway through the season before reeling off 11 straight wins leading up to the semi-state game with Kouts.

The Knights finished 5-4 in the Three Rivers Conference.

Posted on 2021 Mar 23