Providence advanced to Friday night’s Class 2A Paoli Sectional semifinal with an easy 61-29 win over Pekin Eastern in its sectional opener last night, but Henryville bowed out with a 64-49 loss and said farewell to coach Perry Hunter in the process.
Providence’s win sets up a sectional semifinal matchup Friday night against cross-town rival Clarksville (18-2), which defeated the Pioneers 40-38 on Jan. 6.
The sectional host Rams (9-12) saw sophomore guard Tanner Wroblewski nail four 3-point shots within the first nine minutes of their contest against the Hornets. The 6-4 Wroblewski notched 14 of his game-high 18 points in the first half as they gained a 28-19 lead heading into intermission.
“It seemed like the last five or six games, we’ve been doing nothing but playing catch up,” Hunter, who announced a few weeks ago he was ending his seven-year run as Hornets coach at the end of the season. “We knew (Wroblewski) could shoot, we knew he could score. He came out focused, and our basketball IQ wasn’t very good.”
Twice during the second half the Hornets came within eight points. Andrew Jones, who paced Henryville with 13 points, nailed an 18-footer with Wroblewski in his face to make the score 36-28 with less than four minutes left in the third quarter.
But five quick points — a 3-pointer by Lee Wroblewski and 15-footer from Skyler Stroud — brought the lead back to 41-28 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Rams were able to maintain a low double-digit lead for most of the fourth quarter and captured the win over the Hornets, who finished 9-12 on the season.
“We just weren’t mentally tough,” Hunter said. “You see mental toughness when you don’t turn the ball over and when you finish around the basket. We struggled with both.”
Evan Embry and Brad Everage played their final games for the Hornets. Embry, a guard, finished his career with a five-point effort, and Everage added four points and nine rebounds before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
As for Hunter, the Henryville mentor will continue to teach U.S. History at Henryville and intends to remain around the game in some capacity.
“I want to be a fan,” he said. “I want to be Henryville’s No. 1 fan and watch some games, and not be held down and going to scout games I don’t necessarily want to watch. But the coaches aren’t going to be able to completely get rid of me. I’ll be around.”