Local Sports

Golden Bears find way to win sectional opener against East Central

COLUMBUS – Too many wins have slipped away from Shelbyville playing the way it was playing Tuesday in its Class 4A, Sectional 14 opener against East Central.

The Golden Bears could get an open 3-point shot on nearly every possession. By the end of three quarters Tuesday, Shelbyville was shooting 28% (7 of 25) from the arc. And the team had not attempted a free throw.

The result was a 31-27 deficit going into the fourth quarter against a team it defeated earlier in the season. Something had to change or the season was about to be over.

The Golden Bears scored 14 points in the fourth quarter with none coming from behind the 3-point line. That was good enough to get them into overtime where they made 10-of-12 free-throw attempts to seal a 54-47 victory.

“I thought early we tried to shoot too many 3s and our guys have to realize we are a 3-point shooting team but if we’re not hitting them and giving up things on defense, we have to find other ways to score. We have to find other ways to attack,” said Shelbyville head coach John Hartnett Jr. “We have to get to the basket and get to the free-throw line. We have good free throw shooters and we need to realize that and get in the paint a little bit more.”



Jackson Parker (photo) slashed to the rim twice with success to open the fourth quarter. Caden Claxton followed with strong drives to the rim that resulted in three free throws. And a Damon Badgley foray into the lane resulted in one of two made free throws that tied the game at 35-all.

Shelbyville got the lead on a baseline drive and reverse layin from Luke Brinkman. Ollie Sandman followed with a baseline jumper to make it 39-36 but East Central was not done.

Dylan Maxwell hit a 3 from the wing to tie the game and Carson Pieczonka scored on an alley-oop to give the Trojans a 41-39 lead with 1:33 left.

Sandman quickly hit another baseline jumper to tie the game at 41-41 and the Golden Bears had a chance to win at the end of regulation but Claxton left a contested shot short at the buzzer.

Ethan Lambert hit a pair of free throws to open the overtime scoring. East Central’s Cole Wheat matched that effort at the other end.

Badgley followed with Shelbyville’s only made 3 in the fourth quarter and overtime and jumpstarted a 10-0 run that sealed the win.

“With these guys, it’s all about confidence … being confident in yourself and being confident in your teammates,” said Hartnett. “Everybody here feels very confident in every single one of their teammates.

“Ethan Lambert stepping up to the (free throw) line, and he’s been struggling, and knocks down two big ones. Luke Brinkman hit some big 3s tonight and hits that reverse layup. And Jackson Parker playing his butt off defensively and using his athleticism … then making some athletic moves to the basket. The guys did what they had to do tonight to win the game. They found a way to win.”

Brinkman hit 5 of 6 free throws inside the final two minutes and finished with 13 points.

Claxton added a pair of free throws in the run and had a team-high 14 points.



Badgley (photo) finished with nine points, five rebounds and four blocked shots.

Sandman and Parker each had eight points. Sandman pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.

Maxwell led East Central (7-16) with 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Rhys Hofer had 11 points and Wheat finished with 10.

With the win, Shelbyville advanced to face Whiteland (9-14) Friday in the first semifinal game at Columbus North. The Warriors defeated the Golden Bears 72-65 on Dec. 10 at Garrett Gymnasium. The 65 points was Shelbyville’s highest offensive output of the season.



“We are excited for this matchup,” said Hartnett (photo). “We know we can hang around. We know we can defeat them. We will come out and play as hard as we can and survive and advance.”

Columbus North (15-8) defeated Franklin (10-14), 40-38, in the second quarterfinal game Tuesday and will take on Columbus East (2-19) in the second game Friday.

Notes: The sectional game win was the 250th postseason victory for the program. … With eight points, Sandman pushed her career total to 1,014 points. The senior is 10 points from tying Brian Asher for ninth on the Shelbyville career scoring list. … With the win, Shelbyville secured its first double-digit wins season since 2018-2019 (14-11). … The sectional game victory was the first for Hartnett in his fourth season with the Golden Bears.

Steve Bush photos


Shelbyville 54, East Central 47, OT

SH – Sandman 3-10 1-2 8, Brinkman 3-9 5-6 13, Parker 4-5 0-1 8, Claxton 3-10 5-6 14, Asher 0-2 0-0 0, Badgley 3-13 1-2 9, Lambert 0-2 2-2 2. Totals: 16-51 14-19 54.

EC – Pieczonka 2-14 2-4 7, Maxwell 5-8 4-6 16, R. Hofer 3-9 2-4 11, Wheat 3-6 3-4 10, Kuhn 0-5 0-1 0, Richter 1-1 0-0 3, P. Hofer 0-0 0-0 0, Sehlhorst 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-43 11-19 47.


SH (10-13)  11    8    8  14  13  --  54

EC (7-16)       7  13  11  10    6  --  47

Three-point field goals: SH 8-31 (Sandman 1-8, Brinkman 2-7, Claxton 3-6, Asher 0-2, Badgley 2-8), EC 8-21 (Pieczonka 1-5, Maxwell 2-3, R. Hofer 3-7, Wheat 1-1, Kuhn 0-4, Richter 1-1). Rebounds: SH 27 (Sandman 7, Brinkman 4, Parker 2, Claxton 3, Asher 1, Badgley 5, Lambert 5), EC 29 (Pieczonka 4, Maxwell 8, R. Hofer 3, Wheat 6, Kuhn 5, Richter 3). Assists: SH 5 (Brinkman 1, Parker 1, Claxton 2, Badgley 1), EC 12 (Pieczonka 2, Maxwell 6, R. Hofer 3, Kuhn 1). Steals: SH 4 (Sandman 2, Brinkman 1, Asher 1). Blocks: SH 6 (Sandman 1, Asher 1, Badgley 4), EC 2 (Wheat 2). Total fouls: SH 14, EC 20. Fouled out: Parker (SH), Pieczonka, Wheat (EC). Turnovers: SH 5, EC 10.

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