By KEVIN HARRIS
For three quarters, Franklin Central stayed within striking distance of the high-octane Jeffersonville Red Devils in the Class 4A Seymour Regional championship on Saturday night at Scott Gym.
But unfortunately for the Flashes, they could not keep up with the Red Devils in the fourth quarter.
Leading 54-50 entering the fourth, Jeff scored 31 points in the final stanza and won its 18th regional title with an 85-69 victory. The Red Devils (24-3) will take on Class 4A No. 7 Indianapolis Cathedral (24-5) in the Class 4A semi-state next Saturday at either Scott Gym or the Tiernan Center in Richmond. The Irish defeated Class 4A No. 5 Indianapolis Pike in the Southport Regional final on Saturday evening, 62-57. The IHSAA will determine the semi-state location today.
“It feels great,” Jeff coach Chad Gilbert said. “[The Red Devils] stepped up and did their thing. Our guys have battled all year.”
The Red Devils’ quickness and balanced scoring were too much for Franklin Central (12-11) to handle.
Jeff had four players score in double figures. Junior guard Keenan Williams, who had to sit out Saturday’s regional semifinal after leaving the bench during a ruckus at the end of the Seymour Sectional final versus New Albany, scored a game-high 24 points. Williams definitely showed he was well-rested by shooting 8-of-9 from the floor, 2-of-2 from 3-point range and 6-of-10 from the free-throw line. Williams tallied 10 points in the opening quarter.
“Keenan gave us a great spark tonight after sitting out the first game. He was hungry,” Gilbert said. “Keenan stepped up and made some plays. I’m awful proud of him.”
Indiana All-Star candidate Darryl Baker was one rebound away from posting a double-double for Jeff. The senior guard had 20 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Baker got off to a slow start, as he had only three first-half points and misfired on his first six shots. But Baker bounced back with 17 points in the second half, including 11 in the final quarter.
“I just couldn’t find no rhythm,” Baker said. “But then I got my rhythm going and then we started playing team ball. Once I got my rhythm, it was all good.”
Red Devil senior Jacquari Chandler tallied 17 points, making 6-of-8 field goals and 5-of-6 free throws. Chandler also had a game-high four assists and three steals.
Jeff guard Myles Harvey registered 15 points and was the Red Devils’ main defensive stalwart with a game-high five steals.
“This means a whole lot,” Harvey said about the regional title. “I won the sectional last year as a freshman. But this is what I wanted.”
Jeff’s biggest lead in the first half was only five points. The Red Devils were up 28-23 before the Flashes went on an 8-1 spurt to take a 31-29 lead. Jeff forward Devin Shackleford tied the game at 31 when he made a layup off a Harvey assist right before the halftime horn.
Franklin Central took its largest advantage of the contest at 36-31 early in the third by scoring the quarter’s first five points on a Lucas Huffman 3-pointer and a Tyler Malone bucket.
The Devils answered with a 12-4 run to grab a 43-40 lead. The teams exchanged baskets several times until late in the third as Williams made a reverse layup and Harvey converted a bucket to put Jeff up 54-50.
Fatigue started to set in for the Flashes in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. Jeff bolted out to a 68-56 at the outset of the period by going on a 14-6 run.
Franklin Central got within seven three times after that. The Flashes trailed only 74-67 with 2:28 left in regulation. But the Red Devils put the icing on the cake with a game-ending 11-2 run.
“I think they got kind of tired. Coach pointed that out to us and then we wore them down some more,” Harvey said.
Baker said the regional title means a lot to him and the entire Jeff program.
“We’re happy. We are going to enjoy the rest of this night, and then we’re going to get back into it on Monday at practice,” Baker said.
Baker, Harvey and teammate Drew Ellis each picked up the scoring slack for the absent Williams to help Jeff defeat Harrison in the semifinals, 73-61. The Red Devils avenged a 73-70 loss to the Class 4A No. 4 Warriors (22-2) on Feb. 2 at Johnson Arena.
Ellis tallied a game-high 29 points, shooting 7-of-10 from the field, 5-of-7 from 3-point range and 10-of-14 from the line. The junior had 19 points in the second quarter alone, as he was 4-of-4 from the floor and made all six of his free-throw attempts in the stanza.
“Drew got some great looks,” Gilbert said. “All that phony baloney [box-and-one defense] stuff [by Harrison] does not work. What our kids did was step up and make plays. Those were horse shots for Drew. He can knock those down any time.”
Baker recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. He was 7-of-18 from the floor, which includes 2-of-7 from 3-point range, and 4-of-4 from the stripe.
Harvey scored 14 points, all coming in the second half. For the game, he made five of his 10 field-goal attempts, connected on two 3-pointers and was 2-of-2 from the line.
“I thought he stepped up and played well,” said Gilbert, whose squad shot 9-of-18 from 3-point range (50 percent). “He realized that the most important play is the next play, and that’s what he stuck to.”
Harvey was happy to see Williams cheering for his teammates behind the Jeff bench.
“It was hard. We knew coming into the game that we were going to play without him and everybody had to step up,” Harvey said. “He knew that he couldn’t play in the game. But he was the biggest cheerleader over there for us.”
Harrison struggled shooting the ball against Jeff’s tenacious half-court defense. The Warriors were 18-of-49 from the field (36.7 percent) and 4-of-7 from 3-point range (23.5 percent). The Red Devils outrebounded the taller Harrison players, 32-24.
“They live behind the 3-point line. They had some good shots that they took that didn’t go in,” Gilbert said. “Our key was to limit them to one [shot], and that’s what we did.”
Harrison’s three Duncan brothers combined to score 40 points. Sophomore Everett Duncan tallied a game-high 18 points, while junior Ernie Duncan scored 14. Sophomore Stanley Duncan, Everett’s twin brother, had eight. Warrior senior forward De’Niko Scott scored 12.
In the regional opener, Franklin Central upset Class 4A No. 3 and Conference Indiana rival Columbus North, 69-54. The Bull Dogs ended the season with a 23-2 record.
CLASS 4A SEYMOUR REGIONAL
JEFFERSONVILLE 73, EV. HARRISON 61
Jeffersonville 10 21 18 24—73
Ev. Harrison 11 13 21 16—61
Jeffersonville (23-3): Drew Ellis 7-10 10-14 29, Darryl Baker 7-18 4-4 20, Myles Harvey 5-10 2-2 14, Devin Shackleford 3-4 0-0 6, Tyrise Major 1-2 0-0 2, Kortrell White 0-2 2-2 2, Brett Avery 0-0 0-0 0, Troy Avery 0-0 0-0 0, Jacquari Chandler 0-3 0-0 0, Chandler Dale 0-0 0-0 0, JC Kinnaird 0-0 0-0 0, Leonard Kwitonda 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-49 18-22 73.
Evansville Harrison (22-2): Everett Duncan 4-7 8-8 18, Ernie Duncan 4-13 5-6 14, De’Niko Scott 4-6 4-5 12, Stanley Duncan 3-8 2-2 8, Chaz Wisuri 1-2 2-2 5, Duran Miller 1-1 0-0 2, Brandon Stewart 1-9 0-0 2, Robert Barnes 0-1 0-0 0, Eric Blackman 0-1 0-0 0, Keaton Weil 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-49 21-23 61.
3-point field goals: Jeff 9-18 (Ellis 5-7, Harvey 2-4, Baker 2-7); Harrison 4-17 (Ev. Duncan 2-4, Wisuri 1-2, Er. Duncan 1-6, Weil 0-1, S. Duncan 0-2, Stewart 0-2).
Rebounds: Jeffersonville 32 (Baker 11); Harrison 24 (Er. Duncan 7).
Assists: Jeffersonville 7 (Baker 3); Harrison 5 (Er. Duncan 2).
Steals: Jeffersonville 4 (Ellis 2); Harrison 5 (Blackman, Er. Duncan, Ev. Duncan, S. Duncan, Scott, Stewart 1).
Turnovers: Jeffersonville 9, Harrison 12.
Total fouls: Jeffersonville 21, Harrison 18.
Fouled out: none.
Technical fouls: White (J); Stewart (H).
JEFFERSONVILLE 85, FRANKLIN CENTRAL 69
Franklin Central 15 16 19 19—69
Jeffersonville 20 11 23 31—85
Franklin Central (12-11): Jacob Malone 8-10 3-4 20, Jalen Bell 4-8 6-7 14, Forrester Sims 5-10 2-2 14, Tyler Malone 5-7 0-1 10, Lucas Huffman 3-7 2-2 9, Austin Kiel 1-1 0-0 2, Matthew Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Jake Barras 0-2 0-0 0, Marcus Burk 0-2 0-0 0, D.J. Henrichs 0-1 0-0 0, Antoyne Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Justin Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-49 13-16 69.
Jeffersonville (24-3): Keenan Williams 8-9 6-10 24, Darryl Baker 7-19 5-6 20, Jacquari Chandler 6-8 5-6 17, Myles Harvey 5-7 2-2 15, Drew Ellis 2-7 0-0 4, Kortrell White 1-1 1-3 3, Devin Shackleford 1-1 0-0 2, Chandler Dale 0-0 0-0 0, Leonard Kwitonda 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-52 19-27 85.
3-point field goals: Franklin Central 4-20 (Sims 2-6, J. Malone 1-3, Huffman 1-4, Barras 0-1, Henrichs 0-1, Burk 0-2, Bell 0-3); Jeffersonville 6-12 (Harvey 3-4, Williams 2-2, Baker 1-4, Ellis 0-2).
Rebounds: Franklin Central 29 (T. Malone 7); Jeffersonville 22 (Baker 9).
Assists: Franklin Central 12 (Huffman 4); Jeffersonville 13 (Chandler 4).
Steals: Franklin Central 7 (Sims 3); Jeffersonville 12 (Harvey 5).
Turnovers: Franklin Central 14, Jeffersonville 10.
Total fouls: Franklin Central 21, Jeffersonville 16.
Fouled out: J. Malone (FC), T. Malone (FC).