TOPEKA, IN. – LaVille High School basketball coach Michael Edison knew it was going to be a tough semifinal game in the Class 2A Sectional at Westview.
The Class 2A #7 Lancers battled from behind several times to tie the game or get within one possession but fell short, 74-60, to the Panthers in the Indiana High School Athletic Association state tournament.
What it all boiled down to was LaVille’s inability to stop Mike Perkins. Perkins finished the game 8-for-8 from 2-point range, 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, and 19-of-24 from the free throw line for a 41-point effort.
“Oh, geez. #22 … Mike Perkins . . . he killed us,” said Edison after the game. “He was the key. He had a way of knifing his way in there and slicing us apart and finishing. He is a nice, solid player”
The Lancers started slowly, hitting just two field goals in the first quarter as Prairie Heights took a 14-7 lead to close the first eight minutes.
“We didn’t get things rolling real well early,” said Edison. “We couldn’t capitalize. We had a couple guys that didn’t shoot the best, but sometimes that happens. Sometimes when we get down we overextend. When the ball falls in, the confidence starts to build.”
The Lancers, however, rallied in the second quarter, outscoring the Panthers 18-11 to tie game at 25-25 with 1:38 left before halftime. LaVille senior Rylie Cox scored 11 second-quarter points to help the rally.
“Rylie Cox kept us in it with his shooting,” said Edison of the senior. “He hit some key shots.”
Prairie Heights took a 31-28 halftime lead, but Edison and the Lancers never felt like they were out of it.
The two non-conference opponents battled back-and-forth in the third. Prairie Heights held between a five to seven point lead before Cox hit a big bucket, was fouled and converted the old-fashioned 3-point play to cut it to 36-34 at the 4:55 mark. They just couldn’t quite get over the hump, as Prairie Heights extended its lead to 51-39 heading into the fourth period.
“A lot of credit goes to Prairie Heights,” said Edison. “We had a chance, if we hit a couple of those shots that gives our guys confidence.”
The Panthers would widen the gap to 58-39 with 6:56 left before LaVille started to make a push. Connor Wieczorek, Luke Beehler, and Cox helped narrow the gap to 68-60, but could get no closer.
“I thought they finished with poise,” explained Edison of his club. “I felt like we could have done a little better in the first half. I thought we got flustered in the second half, especially when things weren’t going well for us.
“I did like the way we made some runs,” continued Edison. “We had some chances. We would get it to one or two points and they would turn it to 10 points. With two or three minutes left we almost made that late push. Our guys battled hard for the entire game and I was proud of them for that.”
Cox finished with a season-high 29 points and 10 rebounds. Luke Beehler added 16 points, and Wieczorek chipped in with 10 points, three steals, and three assists.
LaVille graduates five total seniors, including manager Nathan Nichols-Petersen. Jared Beehler, Luke Beehler, Rylie Cox, and Riley Wagoner.
LaVille closes the season at 19-4 overall.
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IHSAA CLASS 2A SECTIONAL #35
PRAIRIE HEIGHTS 74, CLASS 2A #7 LAVILLE 60
Prairie Heights 17 31 51 74
LaVille 7 28 39 60
Prairie Heights – G. Culler 9, Hoover 2, Christlieb 6, Trayer 0. Perkins 41, Penick 0, Bachelor 7, Malone 9. Totals: 23 24-32 74
LaVille – Wieczorek 10, L. Beehler 16, Wagoner 1, J. Beeher 3, Czarnecki 0, Good 1, Dill 0, Doyle 0, Herbster 0, Cox 29, Fischer 0. Totals: 18 16-24 60
3-point field goals: Prairie Heights 4 (Perkins 2, G. Culler, Bachelor), LaVille 8 (Cox 5, Wieczorek, L. Beehler, J. Beehler)
Total fouls (fouled out): Prairie Heights 21 (Christlieb, Malone), LaVille 25 (Wieczorek)