Though the Mississinewa Indians have delineated several lofty goals for this season, clinching the CIC championship with a 54-35 triumph over the Eastbrook Panthers on Friday night helped them achieve one of those goals.
Throughout the week, Landen Swanner and Tai McClung struggled with sickness, which limited them throughout the contest. However, the rest of the Indians, particularly Anthony Horton, led the charge.
Behind six points from Alex Baker in the first eight minutes, the Panthers kept the game close, trailing only 13-10.
But in the second, the Indians found their footing, outscoring the Panthers 23-6 to take a 36-16 lead at halftime.
“Tonight was a different night for us…so it took a bit for us to adjust,” Reed said. “I thought some guys stepped up. It took us a minute to get into a new flow and a new rhythm, [and] Eastbrook played really well in the first quarter, but in the second quarter, we got back to our style of basketball and took off.”
Horton had a huge first half, scoring 16 points, including a three at the buzzer.
“We played a really good first quarter,” Eastbrook Head Coach Greg Allison said. “But in the second quarter, we turned the ball over too much against their 1-2-2 half court pressure. They went on a 15-0 run in that quarter, and that turned out to be the difference in the ball game.”
Mississinewa’s defensive intensity picked up in the second stanza, and it carried through the rest of the contest.
“It was Senior Night. People were excited. They wanted to do too much and take too many risks on defense,” Reed said. “We were allowing Eastbrook opportunities, but then when we sat inside and played good team defense again, we took them out of what they wanted to do and [took] control of the game.”
As was the case for their game against Wabash, Allison believes that his team played better than the final score would indicate.
“All in all, I’m proud of the way the kids played,” Allison said. “We go from getting beat by them by 45 in the Grant Four and [only getting beaten] by 19 tonight. I definitely think we are improving. We may not see it in terms of the score, but I definitely think we are improving.”
Baker led Eastbrook with 17 points.
Mississinewa finished the season with a perfect 7-0 conference record, clinching just their second outright conference championship since 2005, when Head Coach James Reed was a senior.
“This is a season long championship,” Reed said. “In the CIC, it doesn’t matter how good you are, this is a hard conference to win and hard to win every game. At Alexandria, they had us down nine in the third quarter, and we had to figure that out. Frankton tied the game with five seconds left, and we had to figure that out. Together, they figured it out, and that’s going to go a long way at tournament time.”
Horton finished the game with a team-high 20 points, while Colin Yoder collected 12 points. Bryce Oglesby added nine and Trey Miles posted seven.