by Bill Cross, The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON — The Indians established control early over the visiting Elwood Panthers, leading 16-4 after one quarter and 33-16 at halftime. Nine players scored in the first half for the Indians, who shot 15-of-26 from the field. Elwood struggled shooting in the first half, hitting just one field goal in the first quarter, and the Panthers did not score until nearly half of the quarter had expired. The Panthers finished 4-of-21 from the floor in the half and turned the ball over nine times.
The flow of the game changed in the second half, as Elwood scrapped its way back.
Neither team got untracked early in the second half as the teams played three scoreless minutes. Jack Bennett opened the scoring, hitting a bucket inside and drawing a foul.
Anderson led by as many as 17 in the third quarter although Elwood did get to within 12 with under three minutes to go.
Elwood clawed its way back to within 10 in the fourth quarter, but Anderson sank nine of 14 free throws to keep the Panthers at bay.
“When you play teams like Elwood, teams that you don’t see a lot, it’s difficult because a lot of the time kids listen to you but don’t listen to you,” said Anderson coach Jeff Howard. “They have their preconceived notion of who Elwood is and what they are going to do. Teams like that are going to come in and be scrappy and loose. They have nothing to lose.”
Orlando Graham led the Indians with 11 points off of the bench as Howard rotated several players in and out of the lineup.
The Indians were whistled for 21 fouls while the Panthers were hit for 19, and the teams combined to shoot 40 free throws.
Marquavius Beverly had eight for Anderson (2-6). Ty Jae Rayford and Zakarius Milhouse had seven apiece.
Bennett led Elwood (3-6) with 15 points. Caleb Jones had 10, and Seth Mireles finished with five points and nine rebounds.
The Indians will travel to Lapel on Thursday to take on Liberty Christian in the second semifinal.
“At the end of the day our goal was to win this tournament, and we are still on course to do that,” said Howard.