Local Sports

Golden Bears' season ends with sectional loss to Whiteland

ST. LEON – Wyatt McLaughlin was not going down without a fight.

Already without starting guard and leading scorer Jazz Banwait, who was out due to illness, McLaughlin took over Whiteland’s Sectional 14 opener in the second half against Shelbyville and carried his team to a 63-54 victory in the Class 4A, Sectional 14 opener for both teams.

The senior guard scored all 18 of his points in the second half Tuesday and never let the Golden Bears regain a lead they built to 23-19 midway through the second quarter.

“We did an excellent job in the first half of shutting down McLaughlin. He didn’t score,” said Shelbyville head coach John Hartnett, “but he is a really good player and he was really tough to stop (in the second half).”



The Warriors led 17-11 after one quarter but Shelbyville went on a spirited 12-2 run to get the lead. However, the Golden Bears did not score again in the quarter after a Mar Nicholson basket with 3:23 left on the clock.

Whiteland scored the final seven points to take a 26-23 lead at halftime then added 6-0 and 7-0 runs in the third quarter to get the lead to double digits.

“We made some key mistakes and key turnovers that cost us late,” admitted Hartnett.

While McLaughlin struggled to hit free throws in the fourth quarter, he made all four of his field goal attempts and the Warriors shot 89% (8 of 9) from the field to keep the Golden Bears at bay.

Ethan Edwards finished with 15 points for Whiteland (15-10). Gavin Stubbe had 14 points and five rebounds. And Akol Akol added nine points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.

The Warriors advanced to Friday’s semifinal round where they will face Franklin (16-4). The two teams split a pair of games this season. In the semifinal opener Friday, the host, East Central (11-13), will take on Columbus East (7-16), a 41-33 winner Tuesday over Columbus North.



Nicholson (photo) finished with a game-high 20 points for Shelbyville (11-12). Caden Claxton had 13 and Luke Brinkman came off the bench to collect eight points, seven rebounds and two assists.

The strongest part of Shelbyville’s schedule came in the final month and it showed. The Golden Bears were 11-6 after a 67-50 win at Speedway on Jan. 26.

The program finished the season with six straight losses but with an improved win total for the second straight season after winning five games two years ago and 10 games last season.

“It was a good year and a good start for us. This just shows our guys where the program can go,” said Hartnett. “We were 11-6 at one point then played some of top teams around at the end of our schedule but that made us better going into tournament time.”



The program graduates five seniors – Brinkman, Kohen Myers, Ethan Lambert, Kyle Clouse and Brock Kuhn. Damon Badgley (photo) and Kenny Owens, who was on the junior varsity roster this season but dressed with the varsity Tuesday, will be the only seniors next season.

“Badgley has to accept a new role next year and that is a being a leader,” said Hartnett. “He will be the senior captain next year and followed along with (current sophomores) Caden Claxton, Mar Nicholson, Cole Schene, Brody Runnebohm and Gavin Reed that will help contribute. We will be talented. I am really excited to see what we can do the next two years.”

Shelbyville’s three leading scorers this season were Claxton (14.3 ppg), Nicholson (13.4 ppg) and Badgley (8 ppg).

Steve Bush photos

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