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Trojans defeat Hornets to advance to regional finals

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New Castle’s Mason Gillis (32) rushes out to defend a shot by Angola’s Braydon Hart (34) during Saturday afternoon’s second semifinal game of boys basketball Class 3A Regional 6 in Marion High School’s Bill Green Arena. Gillis had a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds while Hart had nine points and six boards. The No. 1 Trojans defeated the Hornets 49-35.
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New Castle’s Luke Bumbalough (3-green) moves the ball against Angola’s Braxton Meek (3-white) during Saturday afternoon’s boys basketball Class 3A Regional 6 semifinal game in Marion High School’s Bill Green Arena. Bumbalough had 15 points and four rebounds and Meek had 10 points and four boards before fouling out. The No. 1 Trojans defeated the Hornets 49-35.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

MARION — The Angola High School boys basketball team figured the best option for defeating Class 3A No. 1 New Castle was to be patient and maintain control of the basketball during Saturday afternoon’s second semifinal game of Regional 6 in Marion High School’s Bill Green Athletic Arena.

That strategy worked well for a half, but once the Trojan offense got going and started hitting shots, they took the buzz out of the Hornets’ upset plans as New Castle advanced to Saturday night’s championship game against the tourney-host Giants with a 49-35 victory over Angola.

The Trojans improved to 26-2 while the Hornets bowed out of the tournament with a 17-9 record.

“They’re (Hornets) a well-coached and disciplined team and make it tough on you,” New Castle Coach Daniel Cox said afterward. “We told our guys to remain patient, don’t get frustrated, stay the course, and maintain focus, and our guys did that. I’m proud of the effort and that we got the win.”

New Castle’s Mason Gillis scored the first six points in the slowdown contest for a 6-0 Trojan advantage at the 3:26 mark of the first quarter.

Angola got its first points on a pair of Braxton Meek free throws with three minutes remaining in the period, and Meek added a three-pointer 88 seconds later to pull the Hornets to within 6-5.

Luke Bumbalough then buried a trey for New Castle with a minute left in the first frame and the Trojans led 9-5 after one.

The Hornets’ Luke Horner tallied two baskets, the latter at the 6:10 mark of the second quarter to tie the contest at 9-all. Two successful Bumbalough charity tosses with 5:26 remaining in the period gave the Green and White a 11-9 advantage.

Meek converted a traditional three-point play 81 seconds later to give Angola its first lead at 12-11.

After New Castle’s Niah Williamson put his team ahead with a bucket, Meek scored again for the Hornets’ final lead of the game, 14-13, with 3:03 left in the first half.

Two Gillis free throws and a three-pointer from Bumbalough were answered by only a charity toss from Angola’s Dyer Ball, and the Trojans led 18-15 at intermission. Neither team shot well from the field the first half, as New Castle hit only 5-of-19 (26.3 percent) and the Hornets were just 5-for-17 (29.4 percent). However, both teams did well at the foul line, as the Trojans went 6-for-7 while Angola converted 4-of-5.

“I felt we missed some opportunities to break the game open in the first half, missed a couple lay-ups,” Cox stated. “But our defense once again was solid the whole game. We cashed in on those opportunities the second half.”

New Castle went to Gillis early in the third quarter, and the 6-7 junior responded with a couple of buckets and a pair of free throws that went unanswered for a 24-15 Trojan lead with 5:54 remaining in the period.

The Hornets’ Braydon Hart converted a traditional three-point play at the 5:27 mark of the stanza to trim the New Castle advantage to 24-18, but Gillis hit another basket plus a trey and Bumbalough added a bucket for seven straight Trojan points and a 31-18 lead with 2:18 left in the frame.

Having to come from 13 points behind wasn’t what Angola wanted to do, but the Hornets did battle back and pulled to within 35-27 after three.

A free throw by Horner 12 seconds into the fourth quarter pulled Angola to within seven points at 35-28. But New Castle exploded with a 13-2 run over the next five minutes, capped by a Bumbalough traditional three-point play with 2:52 remaining in the contest, for a 48-30 lead to more or less salt the game away.

The Hornets scored five of the game’s final six points to close out the scoring.

The Trojans shot 12-of-18 (66.7 percent) from the floor in the second half to propel them to the double-digit victory, while Angola was on target for just 8-of-23 (34.8 percent). New Castle finished 17-of-37 (45.9 percent) from the field while Angola countered with 13-of-40 (32.5 percent).

From the free throw stripe, the Trojans were 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) while the Hornets were just 6-of-11 (54.5 percent).

New Castle won the battle of the boards 27-19. Turnovers weren’t a major factor in the contest as the Trojans had nine compared to the Angola’s 10.

Only three players scored for New Castle. Gillis had a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds, Bumbalough had 15 points and four boards, and Williamson added seven points and four rebounds.

“Coming in, we knew it would be a slow-paced game,” Bumbalough said, “and we had to adjust and play good defense. We went on a run the third and fourth quarter and Gillis was on fire. They couldn’t stop him. Marion likes to run up and down the court like we do, and it’ll be fun tonight.”

For the Hornets, Meek had 10 points and four rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Hart had nine points and six boards, and Jarret Schultz added eight points.

In the first game, Marion extended a two-point halftime lead to a comfortable margin in the second half to defeat NorthWood 66-51.

“Our guys are capable of playing any type of game,” Cox added, “and tonight will be a complete 180 against Marion on their home floor. It should be fun and we hope to come out with the win.”

New Castle 49, Angola 35

NEW CASTLE (49)

Bumbalough 5-11 3-4 15, Williamson 3-8 0-0 7, Grieser 0-1 0-0 0, Gillis 9-15 7-9 27, Webb 0-2 0-0 0, Burris 0-0 0-0 0, Hardwick 0-0 0-0 0, B. Huntley 0-0 0-0 0, R. Huntley 0-0 0-0 0, Chamberlain 0-0 0-0 0, Beam 0-0 0-0 0, Dickerson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-37 10-13 49.

ANGOLA (35)

Hilyard 1-5 0-0 2, Meek 3-5 3-3 10, Schultz 4-10 0-1 8, Ball 0-1 1-2 1, Hart 3-15 1-1 9, Horner 2-4 1-4 5, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Scheonherr 0-0 0-0 0, Knox 0-0 0-0 0, Bradley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-40 6-11 35.

New Castle 9 9 17 14 — 49

Angola 5 10 12 8 — 35

3-point goals – New Castle 5 (Bumbalough 2, Gillis 2, Williamson), Angola 3 (Hart 2, Meek). Rebounds – New Castle 27 (Gillis 12, Bumbalough 4, Williamson 4), Angola 19 (Hart 6, Meek 4). Total fouls – New Castle 12, Angola 14. Turnovers – New Castle 9, Angola 10. Records New Castle 26-2, Angola 17-9.