Boys basketball: 21st Century’s first regional appearance ends in semifinals loss to Pioneer
By Terry Turner Post-Tribune correspondent March 9, 2013 8:46PM
Gary 21st Century Charter School's Dantrell Hurt (L) and Louis Brown (R) and consoled by teammate Davis Jernigan (C) during the last seconds of their first round IHSAA boys basketball regional loss at Triton High School Saturday. Pioneer defeated 21st Century 63-49.
Updated: April 11, 2013 7:10AM
BOURBON — There are few high school basketball teams that have come further than the 21st Century Cougars have in the last four years.
Saturday morning they were playing in the Class 1A Triton regional against Pioneer, which was in their third consecutive regional, and though the Cougars played with the Panthers for a half, a quick start to the second half gave the Panthers a 63-49 victory.
Three years ago when Pioneer stepped on the floor at Triton for that regional game, the little Gary school had yet to win their first sectional game, as they were on their second year of a two-year IHSAA probation. Last year the Cougars were sectional runner-ups. And this year 21st Century upset highly-ranked Kouts enroute to capturing its first precious Class 1A sectional crown.
Seniors Louis Brown, Mykel Mayes and David German, Jamel Dickerson, Akhee Porter and Myrin Kirksey helped along that four-year transition route.
And although they won’t be back, Brown (15 points) looked ahead, “Next year they will be back, and be in rhythm, and focused,” Brown said. “It is just a matter of time, I feel like we built some chemistry this year, built up the program. I’m proud of becoming a man,” he said of the hard work and character required in building his 15-8 team.
That program was built with a high intensity high pressure game,but Pioneer was able to break the press early, so 21st coach Rodney Williams called it off until the 2nd half comeback.
“They’ve got some tremendous shooters,” said Williams. “They’ve been here for the last (three) years, that ‘s huge, experience is always a key.”
Gary was able to stay with the Panthers through the first half, with it 30-22 at the break.
Experienced teams always seem to step things up in the third quarter, and that is exactly what Pioneer did.
Pioneer guards Carter Skaggs (24 points) and Brandon Scruggs (19, 16 boards) were a big part of a 15-0 run in that third period, with Skaggs drilling three, threes, and Scruggs working the defensive boards, they pushed the lead to 43-24.
The Cougars rallied to cut the game to ten, at 53-43, with four minutes to play, but 21st Century was really out of options.
“We left in out on the floor, I’m so proud of these guys, I couldn’t wish for a better team, these guys are the best. “I thought we had a little gas left in the tank,” Williams said of the last quarter rally, but we just couldn’t make it happen.”
The Cougars were out-rebounded 40-24, and most importantly they were 1-14 beyond the arc and 33 percent overall. “We had some looks,” said Williams, “but the ball didn’t go down. The free throw line (2-7 21st, 8-11 Pioneer) came back to hurt us.”