Mar. 3—The margin was the same as in the regular-season meeting between the two teams and the games were similar as well, Terre Haute North falling to sixth-ranked Plainfield 54-39 Tuesday night at the Class 4A Avon Sectional for boys high school basketball.
"We were right there," coach Todd Woelfle of the Patriots said after the game, "but they had a little spurt in the third quarter that hurt us. [The spurt] came in the fourth quarter [in North's 50-35 loss at Plainfield in December]."
Coach Andy Weaver's Quakers are most impressive in pre-game warmups, when all their size is on display. Plainfield starts a 6-foot-2 inch forward to go with two 6-4 guards and inside players who are 6-6 and 6-7. The Quakers didn't use the two other 6-4 players or the 6-5 player on their bench.
That's a luxury, of course, that no Vigo County team has had for a few years now.
"They're a good, experienced team," Woelfle said of the Quakers. "I was very proud of [the Patriots'] effort. The kids battled, but [Plainfield's] length and size hurt us, and made it difficult for us to score."
North controlled the tempo early, but didn't shoot well enough to make it seem effective for awhile. Plainfield led 11-5 at the first stop and 15-7 early in the second quarter.
But the Quakers didn't shoot well either in the first half, and the Patriots closed out the second quarter with a 9-2 run that brought them within 17-16. Bryson Carpenter hit two free throws, Matt Gauer hit a 3-pointer and Nas McNeal got a basket, then two free throws. When Gauer scored on a post-up move 30 seconds into the second half, the Patriots had an 18-17 lead.
The lead lasted just 11 seconds, long enough for 6-6 junior Cael Vanderbush to get to the other end, post up and score. Those were the first two of his 12 third-quarter points, and the first two of a 9-0 run that put Plainfield ahead to stay.
"When we have to rotate defensively, that leads to rebounding opportunities for [Plainfield, especially Vanderbush and 6-7 Ian Scott]," Woelfle pointed out.
Trailing 26-18, the Patriots had one other rally. Gauer scored twice, Colin Frank got a rebound basket and Carpenter hit a free throw, and it was a 29-25 game with two minutes left in the third quarter.
But that was it. Vanderbush got the last five points of that period for a nine-point cushion for Plainfield, and the lead grew to 48-30 by the middle of the fourth quarter.
Gauer scored 17 for the Patriots, but none of his teammates had more than four. Gauer and Carpenter had seven rebounds each.
Vanderbush had a game-high 20 for Plainfield, with Scott adding 11 points and 12 rebounds and Dayne Gardner also scoring 11. Plainfield shot 75% from the field in the second half and went to the free throw line 27 times after halftime, 19 of those as the Patriots tried to extend the game in the fourth quarter.
It was the final game for six North seniors — Gauer, Noah Crosley, Dylan Ingle, Mahki Johnson, Casey Kelly and Caden Mason.
"A good group," Woelfle said of those seniors. "The coaching staff enjoyed going to practice every day.
"We were very fortunate to have a season," the coach added. "Our record didn't end up where we wanted it to be [with six one-possession losses], but I was very proud of them."
In Tuesday's opener, Brownsburg dominated the third quarter to pull away from Mooresville for a 60-48 win. The Bulldogs face Terre Haute South in the 6 p.m. game Friday at Avon.