NEW SALISBURY —
Salem took an early lead on Charlestown in the opening round of the Class 3A North Harrison sectional on Tuesday, but the Pirates took advantage of their inside bulk in the second half, advancing to Friday night’s semifinal against Brownstown Central with a 53-51 win over the Lions.
“For the most part, we’ve got to get it inside. That’s no secret,” Charlestown coach Sean Smith said. “They know that. We weathered a couple of storms, and tonight they shot the ball well.
“We scored about the same amount of points the last time we played [Salem in a 50-37 victory on Feb. 21], but the difference is they shot the ball better tonight. But, we had a few guys step up and we found a way to win.”
The 2-18 Lions came out of the box on fire, with sophomore guard Jordan Baker nailing two three-pointers and junior Caleb Couch another inside the first 90 seconds as they grabbed an early 9-0 lead.
Charlestown (6-15) forward Hunter Crace grabbed a loose ball beneath the Pirate basket after Couch’s second trey and put it in off the glass to break the scoring drought with 5:20 remaining in the first quarter. They trailed 20-11 after Steven Kinslow sank a free throw line jumper with two minutes remaining.
Charlestown scored the last five points of the first quarter, as Tanner Wesp sank two free throws wtih 32.3 seconds left and guard Korey Harris sank a half-court prayer at the buzzer to bring the Pirates to within four at 20-16.
“That was one of those, where he saw it, the clock was running down and he didn’t give up on it,” Smith said of Harris’s shot. “Who knows, that’ll probably end up on SportsCenter. But give him credit, that helped give us some momentum and turned around what was not such a good first quarter for us.”
Neither team had much success offensively in the second quarter, and Salem held a 26-23 lead at intermission.
The game would remain tight throughout the second half, and the Pirates would finally gain their first lead at 38-37 behind two free throws from Wesp with 1:14 remaining in the third quarter. Wesp added another inside bucket late to give Charlestown a 40-37 advantage heading into the fourth frame.
The Pirates found some breathing room in the fourth frame when reserve forward Jamal Long converted an inside basket and subsequent foul shot with 4:50 remaining in the contest. Long, who scored 12 points, gave the Pirates a 47-41 lead with that play.
The Lions weren’t finished. They battled back to take the lead after Couch sank a 3-pointer from the right side of the court with 1:30 remaining, leading 51-50. Two free throws from Harris and another free throw from Wesp closed out the scoring for the Pirates, who held a 2-point lead with less than a minute remaining.
Salem missed their last three attempts from the field. Seth Hobson’s short jumper in the lane with time running down missed, and the rebound was gobbled up by Charlestown forward Darren Taylor, who held onto the ball as the final buzzer sounded.
Charlestown held a decided advantage in size and strength on the Lions. The Pirates were able to get to the line 29 times, converting 23 foul shots as the Lions were only able to make 7 of 9. Wesp, who led Charlestown with 13 points, made 11 of 13 shots from the line as he, Long, Crace and Taylor physically manhandled Salem on the inside throughout the second half.
Crace added 10 points and eight rebounds for Charlestown.
The No. 7 Braves (19-3) completely dominated Scottsburg, winning 72-34 in the earlier contest. The two-time defending sectional champions defeated the Pirates 80-35 Jan. 31.
Tonight’s matchups between Corydon Central and North Harrison and Silver Creek and Madison will determine who plays in the nightcap Friday.
“We have two days to figure something out,” Smith said of the semifinal matchup with Brownstown. “It’s going to be a tremendous challenge. That’s why these tournament games are played — anything can happen and our kids will be ready to play.”
CLASS 3A NORTH HARRISON SECTIONAL
BROWNSTOWN 72, SCOTTSBURG 34
Brownstown 14 14 21 23—72
Scottsburg 8 3 10 12—34
Brownstown (19-3): DeHart 6, Schneider 25, Benter 4, Snodgrass 13, Cam Shoemaker 4, McCory 2, Klinge 3, Shade 10, Drew Shoemaker 2, Nierman 3.
Scottsburg (10-11): Barber 2, Helton 7, Evans 8, Soloe 3, Hardin 5, Barrett 9.
CHARLESTOWN 53, SALEM 51
Charlestown 16 7 17 13—53
Salem 20 6 11 14—51
Charlestown (6-15): Wesp 13, Crace 10, Taylor 6, Long 12, Cardwell 0, Chester 5, Knoebel 0, Harris 7.
Salem (2-19): Couch 19, Baker 9, Hobson 10, Jackson 2, Kinslow 6, Nice 4, Cornett 1, Zink 0.
Rebounds: Charlestown 24 (Crace 8); Salem 18 (Jarrell 5) .
Free throws: Charlestown 23-29, Salem 7-9.
3-point field goals: Charlestown 2 (Chester, Harris); Salem 8 (Couch 5, Baker 3).