The IHSAA 3A third-ranked Edgewood Mustangs, featuring Mr. Basketball candidate Garrett Butcher, came calling at McAnally Center Friday and lived up to their lofty reputation, defeating Greencastle 73-58.
The Tiger Cubs held their own, however, against Edgewood, thanks to the inspired play of Brennan Burks, whose 23 points included the 1,000th of his career in the purple and grey.
The ballgame was knotted at five apiece at the 5:00 mark of the first quarter, but two threes from Butcher on consecutive possessions helped the Mustangs to a 21-11 margin at the conclusion of the period, a lead they would never relinquish.
Edgewood connected often from behind the arc in the second quarter and throughout the contest, primarily thanks to senior guard Tommy Weakley, who led all scorers with 24 points. Weakley made good on eight of the fourteen treys the Mustangs accumulated in the game.
Edgewood widened the lead to 18, 40-22, at the intermission.
Obviously, Butcher, who came into the contest as the state's fourth-leading scorer at 27.6 ppg, had to be the Cubs' main focus defensively, but it was the tandem of he and Weakley that proved to be the Tiger Cubs' downfall.
Greencastle coach Troy Greenlee acknowledged that their presence was problematic for his ballclub: "Anytime you have two good offensive players like Edgewood does, it puts a lot of pressure on you defensively."
Butcher played sparingly in the third quarter, and his absence allowed the Cubs to hang with the Mustangs.
Burks scored twelve of his points in the third, and the quarter ended with Edgewood on top, 59-41.
The fourth quarter provided the home crowd a couple of nice moments, as Burks collected his 1,000th point on a twisting jumper in the paint at the 5:18 mark. Play was halted temporarily as an announcement was made to commemorate the milestone.
Greenlee was obviously proud of his senior's accomplishment at game's end. "He deserves all of that good stuff," Greenlee said.
Minutes later, Butcher delivered on his reputation as an explosive offensive threat by jumping into the passing lane and making a steal at half court. Butcher then slammed through a thundering, uncontested dunk at the opposite end of the floor, much to the delight of the Mustang faithful.
Greencastle was able to narrow the Edgewood margin slightly late in the ballgame, but the outcome was elementary at that point, and most of the starters had long been taken off the floor.
Greenlee was pleased with his team's effort, despite the loss: "I was proud of the way our kids competed tonight. Sometimes as a coach you just have to give the other team credit. We're just hoping that by sectional time we see improvement."
The Tiger Cubs dropped to 7-5 with the loss, while Edgewood improved to 9-2.
Edgewood came out on top of the JV contest, 41-27. Greencastle was led by Jordan Hickam and Griffen Moore, who each netted 6 points in the loss.
Edgewood 21 19 19 14 73
Greencastle 11 11 19 17 58