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Perry Central wins first sectional in 16 years

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By LARRY GOFFINET
Sports Editor

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HUNTINGBURG—Perry Central held Mater Dei to 31.6 percent field-goal shooting in the second half to beat the Wildcats 56-54 Saturday for the Southridge Class 2A boys basketball sectional title.
It is only the third boys basketball sectional title in Perry Central’s 51-year history and first since 1997, when current coach Matt Carter was the team’s star player.
The Commodores, 21-3 (tying the 1997 team for most wins in school history), will play Switzerland County, 18-4, in the Southridge regional Saturday at 10 a.m. Perry County time.
That will be followed by 21-3 Linton-Stockton versus 18-5 Clarksville at noon. The championship game will be at 7:30 p.m.
The Commodores trailed most of the game against Mater Dei. They were behind 36-29 at halftime, their largest halftime deficit of the season, and they fell behind by nine when Mater Dei center Tyler Walsh started the third-quarter scoring with a tip-in.
Then the Commodores’ defense really kicked in.
Walsh, who has been a nemesis of theirs the last two years, had 17 points on 7 of 11 field-goal shooting to that point.
He was held to four points on 2 of 7 field-goal shooting the rest of the way. And no other Wildcat picked up the slack.
When Walsh wasn’t scoring in the first half, other Wildcats were scoring on drives, including several on the baseline.
“We just didn’t contain the ball very well with our guards in the first half,” said Carter. “And when we helped (after one defender got beat), that left an opening for Walsh.
“We shot the ball pretty well the first half (10 for 20 field-goal attempts, including 5 for 9 from three-point range)—we just couldn’t get any stops.
“The second half we adjusted the way we were playing their screens (not switching as much). And our communication was a lot better.”
Tanner Cassidy, who seems to score most of his points in clutch situations late in games, led Perry Central’s offense in the second half with 16 points in the final 151⁄2 minutes.
He finished with 22 points on 6 of 13 field-goal shooting and 8 of 10 free throws. He also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and was named the Most Valuable Player of the sectional.
He said the biggest shot he hit Saturday was a three-pointer at the buzzer ending the third quarter to pull the Commodores within two, 43-41.
“That made it a one-possession game and gave us life,” he said. “We knew we could come back and do it.”
The Commodores took the lead, 49-48, on Andrew Huber’s 18-footer off the dribble with 3:40 left.
Their lead stayed between one and four points the rest of the way.
After they missed a free throw with 0:07 left, Mater Dei’s Jacob Stauber missed  a 24-foot three-point shot at the buzzer that could have won the game for the Wildcats.
“I was a little nervous because I don’t think he’d missed any (Stauber was 3 for 5 on three-pointers to that point),” said Cassidy. “Luckily that last one didn’t go in.”
Derek Thomas had 15 points and five rebounds for Perry Central to back Cassidy.
Colten Hedinger added six rebounds and three assists and did a good job guarding Walsh most of the game.
Mater Dei finished the season 10-13 but was 6-1 against Class 2A teams before this game.

At Southridge Sectional Saturday
Championship Game
Mater Dei (54)
    fg-a    ft-a    reb    pf    tp
Stauber    7-12    1-2    5    4    18
Sellers    1-2    1-2    5    1    3
Walsh    9-18    3-5    12    4    21
LaRue    2-10    3-4    1    2    8
Wolf    2-3    0-0    1    2    4
Sheridan    0-0    0-0    2    0    0
Price    0-0    0-0    1    1    0
Team            1
    Totals    21-45    8-13    28    14    54
Perry Central (56)
    fg-a    ft-a    reb    pf    tp
Cassidy    6-13    8-10    7    3    22
LeClere    1-2    0-0    2    1    2
Hedinger    1-4    0-1    6    2    2
Thomas    5-9    3-5    5    1    15
Huber    3-7    2-2    1    1    9
A. Schwartz    2-2    0-0    0    1    6
Schaad    0-3    0-0    0    2    0
Hubert    0-1    0-0    0    0    0
Edwards    0-1    0-0    1    0    0
Team            1
    Totals    18-42    13-18    24    11    56

  Three-point shooting: Mater Dei 4-9 (Stauber 3-6, LaRue 1-3), Perry Central 7-18 (Cassidy 2-7, Thomas 2-3, Huber 1-2, A. Schwartz 2-2, Schaad 0-3, Edwards 0-1). Assists: Perry Central 12 (Hedinger 3, Cassidy 2, LeClere 2, Thomas 2, Huber 2, A. Schwartz). Steals: Perry Central 6 (Huber 2, Cassidy, Thomas, A. Schwartz, Schaad). Turnovers: Mater Dei 7, Perry Central 5.

Mater Dei    15    21    7    11  -     54
Perry Central    11    18    12    15  -     56