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North Central comes up short against No. 2 Linton

Photo by B.J. HARGIS: North Central's Gage Wheaton , left, throws the ball around pressure applied by the Linton defense in a game at White River Valley.

SWITZ CITY — North Central played its most complete game of the boys basketball season, but a couple of short, decisive stretches cost the Thunderbirds, who lost to Class 2A No. 2 Linton 53-49 in the semifinals of the Greene County Invitational at White River Valley on Friday night.

Linton improved to 11-2 with its second win over the Thunderbirds — a 68-52 decision in the Wabash Valley Classic at Terre Haute North — 10 days earlier.

North Central dropped to 5-6.

“This was the closest we have come to putting four quarters together,” said North Central coach Vance Edmondson. “We came out and jumped ahead 9-2 and then we relaxed.”

Over the first two minutes and forty seconds of the second quarter, the Miners, the defending GCI champions, scored nine consecutive points to turn a 11-9 deficit into a 18-11 lead.

“They are a very good basketball team,” said Edmondson. “They are not ranked No. 2 in the state for nothing.

“But a couple spurts like that one to begin the second quarter turned out to be the difference in the game.”

North Central continued to compete. A pair of free throws by DeShawn Clark, who scored 15 points to tie Trevor Hadley for team-high scoring honors, cut the Linton lead to 24-21 intermission.

North Central started the third quarter with a run of its own, taking the lead back. Peyton Seay’s basket in the paint, the third 3-pointer by Clark and another hoop by Seay gave the T-birds a 28-26 advantage at the 5:29 mark of the third. Seay finished with six points and three rebounds.

“I was proud of the way the kids competed,” said Edmondson. “At times, we executed well.

“I think we got within one point (37-36 in the final minute of the third quarter), but we couldn’t get any closer.”

Indiana State signee Lincoln Hale took the game over for the Miners. His steal resulted in a jumper as the Miners led by three points at the end of the quarter.

Hale, who scored a game-high 26 points to go with nine rebounds, three steals and two assists, scored Linton’s first three baskets of the fourth as the Miners went ahead 45-36 midway in the fourth. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter.

“That run at the end of the third and into the fourth (8-0) was another one of those short stretches that clost us,” said Edmondson. “Hale is a good player and you just hope to slow him down a little.

“To give yourselves a chance to win, you have to defend better than we did at times. We fouled too much.”

James Roberts hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to finish with 10 points. North Central scored the final five points — a jumper by Hadley and Roberts’ trey — to make the final deficit a four-point margin, the closest North Central came after Pyne’s onslaught to start the quarter.

“I was not surprised the game was this close,” said Linton coach Joey Hart. “We needed a game like this.

“They came out in a triangle-and-two like we expected. We run a perfect play and Josh Pyne gets an open jumper and comes down and blows out his ankle.”

North Central will play for third place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against the loser of the Eastern Greene-Bloomfield game.

NORTH CENTRAL (49) — Tyler Vaughn 0 2-4 2, Jacob Adams 0 0-0 0, Trevor Hadley 7 0-0 15, Peyton Seay 3 0-0 6, James Roberts 3 2-2 10, Wyatt Ison 0 0-0 0, DeShawn Clark 5 2-2 15, Gage Wheaton 0 0-0 0, Braden Daves 0 0-0 0, Levi Jennings 0 1-2 1. Totals 18 7-10 49.

LINTON (53) — Joey Hart  2 2-2 6, Braden Walters 3 1-2 7, Lincoln Hale 11 3-6 26, Drew Smith 0 0-0 0, Josh Pyne 0 0-0 0, Logan Webb 5 0-3 11, Konner Cox 1 1-1 3. Totals 22 7-14 53. 

North Central  11 10 15 13 — 49

Linton  9 15 15 14 — 53  

3-pointers — North Central 5 (Clark 3, Roberts 2, Hadley), Linton (Hale, Webb). Fouls — North Central 16, Linton 9. Fouled out — None. Rebounds — North Central 20, Linton 27. Assists — North Central 12, Linton 9. Steals — North Central 1, Linton 6. Turnovers — North Central 17, Linton 7. Blocks — North Central 1, Linton 3.

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