Playing their final game of the regular season on the road at Manchester, the Mississinewa Indians once again faced some adversity.
“It was similar to [the] New Castle [game] in the first half,” Mississinewa Head Coach James Reed said. “I feel like we owned them offensively, owned them defensively, and controlled the game. But then we came out in third quarter and some weird things started happening. We have been out of the flow we’ve been in because of sickness, but it seemed that…the small details got us into a little bit of trouble.”
After building a first half lead, much like they did against New Castle, the Indians struggled in the second half, allowing the Squires to get back into the game and eventually take a four-point lead with 90 seconds remaining.
But the Indians regrouped and rediscovered their mojo, forcing overtime and defeating the Squires by a score of 70-65.
“I think it just clicked for them again,” Reed said. “Manchester actually had the last second shot in regulation, and I think our guys [realized,] ‘Oh, we almost lost this game,’ [so I] think that jumped them back into doing the things that we do well. We got the ball inside right away, scored, got a good stop, got the ball back inside, scored, and with a four-point lead, we were able to space them out and get to the basket.”
Tai McClung finished with 31 points, while Anthony Horton collected 15 points and Landen Swanner finished with 11.
For the Indians, all of their success this season has led to this moment. Mississinewa has not won a sectional title since 1954, the second longest drought in the state of Indiana, and to win one this year, they will have to work their way through a tough sectional, starting with a hot Oak Hill team on Tuesday.
But, as he has been all season, Reed is confident in his team, and believes that they are ready to embark on what could be a special playoff run.
“It’s the same thing we’ve been focused on all season,” Reed said. “We need to get our guys playing fearless again, playing with each other, and focusing on each other. Not only making each other look good but encouraging each other when things don’t go well. Getting that excitement back is the biggest thing for this group. We are going to gameplan against Oak Hill and be shortsighted. [We plan to] give them the best version of ourselves when we show up Tuesday.”