The streak is finally over. After a blowout 70-33 win over Jennings County tonight in Seymour, the boys are sectional champions.
Senior Grant Gohmann and junior Jake Heidbreder led the team in scoring with 16 each.
Gohmann said, “This is something special. We have seen the failure. and to come out here and play like we did, I mean we didn’t even play them within single digits. That’s something really special. You don’t see that very often, and this is 31 years in the making.
After the first quarter, it seemed like it was destiny for the Highlanders to snap the streak, but it did not start out that way.
“We got great contributions from our sophomores off the bench,” said head coach Todd Sturgeon. “They got off to that lead (11-4 Jennings County), Cole (sophomore Cole Harritt) coming off the bench, now it gets forgotten after we win by 30, but those were two big buckets.”
Harritt said, “I knew we needed to score
when I came in, so as soon as I got the ball I had an open look and just shot it. That kind of got the crowd going and it just took off from there.”
This win was particularly special for the seniors after not playing much in the past two years in these sectional games before finally getting their shot.
Senior Ben Purvis said, “We only had one shot at this and we knew we had to make it count. So we got in the gym, put in the work and we got it done.”
“This feels really good, we are excited,” said Sturgeon. “Most happy for this group of seniors. It hasn’t been easy for those guys. They have had their own struggles, whether it was injuries or playing behind the 17 guys in the two classes ahead of them. So they have had to wait their turn and to see those guys rewarded is really satisfying.”
Floyd will be playing Bloomington South Saturday at 12 in Seymour. For more sectional coverage and a preview of regionals, check out next Friday’s print edition of The Bagpiper.
You are reading something that most people in my generation have probably never said before, Floyd Central is favored to win the sectional championship in basketball. If the job actually gets done, it will be the first time in 31 years.
To win, junior Jake Heidbreder will need to play his game. I have been saying this whole year he is the best player in the conference, and probably even the best player in Southern Indiana, and the 61-47 dominant victory earlier tonight against Jeff proved that. If he does his thing and drops 20 points, Jennings County will be in a tough spot.
Next, we need to stop the Panthers’ momentum. When an underdog gets rolling, they are almost impossible to stop. So if we can stop their momentum early in the game and really put them in a hole, it could be a blow out.
Finally, we need to limit our turnovers, especially early. I said that we needed to stop their momentum to beat them, and making turnovers means giving them more momentum early. Limiting turnovers is always key to win, but early in the game, they will be particularly key to win. If senior Ben Purvis continues his 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio, it should take a little pressure off Heidbreder’s ball handling and let him play more freely and get to the bucket more.
Bottom Line: Floyd is flat out better, but Jennings has something extremely tough to stop: confidence and momentum. If Floyd does not feel the pressure of being the favorites and plays loose it should go our way. Heidbreder is too good for Jennings to stop constantly, and even if they do we have too many other weapons to guard. Final Score: FC 60- JC 51
Two years ago, we lost to New Albany, who was led by at-the-time senior Romeo Langford. He tended to draw a crowd and Seymour was more than sold out for the sectional finals against us. This matchup is not as exciting. Jennings County has no NBA players, and this is not a rivalry. However, do not let that stop you from coming. I would be shocked if we could fill all 8,228 seats at Seymour, but it would be spectacular if we could surround Jennings County in a wave of green and neon yellow, essentially making it a home game for the sectional favorites at the biggest high school gym in the world. The game starts at 7:30 and is is Seymour. Tickets are six dollars.
We are now into the most anticipated and exciting part of the year in Indiana. And the excitement has already started. New Albany actually had to play on Tuesday in sectionals, and they were upset by Jennings County. New Albany had just over a 20 percent chance to win sectionals while Jennings was sitting at about one percent,
But the Highlanders have a tough task ahead of them in the Red Devils. Jeff is coming off a sectional title and seven straight wins up to this game. They also beat us earlier this
year at FC on a buzzer beater by senior Jacob Jones. So, here are my keys to reverse what happened earlier this year.
Junior Jake Heidbreder will need to score consistently. Last year, New Albany essentially shut him down in the sectionals loss, and that was definitely a big factor. He is our best scorer so if Jeff shuts him down we will not score a lot of points. But, Silver Creek, who has 3 D-1 players, could not stop Heidbreder so it will be tough for Jeff to do it.
This needs to be a low scoring game. I said earlier this year at the Jeff game that the first team to 40 would win. Jeff was the first to 40. I think this game will be the same way. But
Jeff proved Tuesday that low scoring games are not what they are best at. They beat Seymour 36-29. Seymour plays a very slow game, slower than even FC, and Jeff struggled with it. So I think with better players and a similar play style, it will be a low scoring game.
Finally, we need to limit turnovers. One huge problem in the game earlier this year was
turnovers. We made 11 compared to Jeff’s 6. Senior Seth Burks made several that game, but since then, he has vastly improved. Early in the season, the very athletic Burks seemed to rely on his athletism to try to make plays, but they often resulted in turnovers. He is making far fewer turnovers each game than he did early this year, and looking to make the smarter play instead of the tougher and more athletic play.
Bottom Line: Jeff is very good and very athletic. But earlier this year, they had three D-1 players on their team. Now, with sophomore Will Lovings-Watts leaving, they have two. That should make guarding Jones and senior Tre Coleman a little easier. Floyd has also improved a lot since then including a solid win over Bloomington North on Feb. 22. Even with Jeff’s talent, I think Floyd’s defense will keep it low scoring in a Highlander win. Final Score: Highlander 42- Jeff 39
Last March, we lost to New Albany in sectionals on a buzzer beater. Not a single junior was on the floor. That was seven seniors’ last game of high school basketball, and as most people looked forward, they saw a year where we would struggle along and not beat or
even play with the big boys in the HHC, Jeffersonville and New Albany, or the state, Silver Creek and Bloomington South. Then, on Dec. 13, we beat New Albany, partly because of two huge threes by senior Ben Purvis.
Those shots dropping were not too surprising, though, Purvis has been playing basketball for years and preparing for those shots.
“I starting playing probably when I was 4 at a league at Cornerstone or the Y,” said
Purvis. “I probably started for the same reason I started playing baseball or soccer, just to get introduced into sports, but I loved it from the beginning.”
As he has grown as a player, he has learned his role as a Highlander basketball player; and even though he hit two big threes against New Albany, neither he nor head coach Todd Sturgeon sees scoring as his role on the team.
“He does a little bit of everything,” said Sturgeon. “He is our second ball handler, maybe our best team defender. He has almost a 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. You want it to be over 1-to-1, 2-to-1 is fantastic, and his is almost 3-to-1. Occasionally we need him to knock in a shot from the 3-point line and he can do that so, he does just a little bit of everything.”
Purvis said, “I make sure I play good defense and be vocal on the court. Make plays when I need to and make good decisions and be start.”
All three seniors have played well this year, but their high school basketball career has been tougher than most.
“It has not been easy, especially for us seniors,” said Purvis. “We have had a lot of competition in front of us, but we have stayed focused just like our first three years.”
Having few seniors means that they all have to step up and lead the team.
“My role is just to be a leader as a senior. But I also need to hustle all the time and make sure people are in their spots,” said Purvis.
To win sectionals this weekend, the seniors’ play in the big moment will be important, especially with a pretty young team. While this will definitely be true for Purvis,
it will be game to game on what he will do to lead the team to a win.
“He has done a good job of seeing what we need in a given game. He has some games where he barely shots at all, and others where he knocks in, the New Albany game he hit a couple threes, a couple threes. He hit free throws down the stretch at Christian Academy. He just kind of adds some calmness to our ball handling and adds another senior and somebody besides Jake [Heidbreder], especially when teams are trying to deny Jake the ball and so forth, to just plug in and fill a role.”
Earlier I said that people did not think FC would be able to play with the state powerhouses this year. That, however, has been proven false several times, Bloomington South was a 1-point loss on a buzzer beater by an Indiana basketball commit, Jeff was a 3-point loss on a buzzer beater that banked in, and Silver Creek was a 1-point loss on a free throw with 44 seconds left before freshman Caleb Washington just missed a tip in with less than 10 seconds left.
Purvis said, “Coach Sturgeon said one time if you keep your head right and you keep working and keep making good decisions, eventually things will work out for you in the end.”
Hopefully this weekend in Seymour will be the time that things work out.