Eagles are ORVC champions!
PHOTO COURTESY OF JCD ATHLETICS
All Class A No. 12 Jac-Cen-Del had to do on Friday night was pick up a victory to claim the Ohio River Valley Conference boys basketball title outright. At rival South Ripley that night would be a tremendous challenge but the Eagles were game and used a second half surge to claim the championship, besting the Raiders 59-50 in Versailles.
The ORVC crown is Jac-Cen-Del’s first in 11 years. The Eagles shared the 2011 championship that season with Shawe Memorial and have not won the outright crown since 2009 when the Osgood crew went on to win the Class A State Championship.
An Eagle loss would have meant the title would be forced to be split three ways with the Raiders and Southwestern (Hanover) and early on it appeared as if that scenario was a legitimate possibility. Jac-Cen-Del got 10 first frame points from Wyatt Day en route to an 18-13 lead but South Ripley stormed back in the second quarter as Nick Schwarte’s 11 points in the stanza helped tie the game at 26-all going into halftime.
The Raider offense though would sputter in the third quarter and allow the Eagles to get out front for good. Schwarte and Blaine Ward combined for the green and white’s nine points in the period while Jac-Cen-Del would get 15 points from a combined four players and push ahead 41-35. Three 3-pointers and seven made free throws by Jac-Cen-Del’s trio of Day, Caleb Simon and Justin Swinney doomed Ripley in the final eight minutes, giving way to spoiling the Raiders’ Senior Night festivities.
It was no surprise to see the tandem of Day and Simon again in double figures. While Day would score a team-high 20 points and Simon put in 12 points -10 points in the second half- it would be Swinney who proved to be perhaps most pivotal as he finished with 15 points. Swinney’s efforts included seven points in the first half before scoring eight points in the fourth quarter to keep Jac-Cen-Del in control. 9 of his 15 points came from the three-point line.
Devin Grieshop came off the bench to score seven points, Matt Dickman added three points and Ryan Wilson chipped in two points for the Eagles.
South Ripley got 22 points from Schwarte, a senior, while the freshman Ward joined him in double figures with 12 points. Seven of Ward’s 12 came inside the second half while 16 of Schwarte’s 22 came inside the first half. Blake Volz added six points while Zach Gentile and Cole Henry each contributed four points. Raider scoring was rounded out by Logan Bradley’s two points.
South Ripley ends the regular season with a 12-10 overall record and 4-2 mark in the ORVC. The Raiders do not open Class 2A Sectional 44 play at home until the semifinal round on Friday night when they face South Decatur (13-10).
It was the second impressive win for Jac-Cen-Del of the week after the Eagles concluded the home portion of the regular season with a 57-55 overtime win against Covenant Christian out of Indianapolis.
Covenant (11-12) used its physicality and an array of athleticism to burst out in front 19-12 early on before Jac-Cen-Del was able to recover and close the gap to 28-25 by intermission. The Eagles eventually grabbed a third quarter advantage with a 15-9 run before the two teams traded shots in the fourth quarter and settled on a 51-51 tie that put the game in overtime.
Jac-Cen-Del hit a go-ahead shot with just seconds remaining and led by the eventual 57-55 final score with only 3.1 seconds to go. Covenant was unable to connect on a shot to either tie or win the game.
Day led the Eagles with 22 points and Grieshop stepped up for 15 points in the win. Simon added nine points with Wilson and Swinney scoring six points apiece. Dickman connected on a deuce for two points to round out the scoring.
Jac-Cen-Del’s regular season comes to a close with a 17-5 overall record and an unblemished 6-0 ORVC mark. The 17 wins are the most since the 2015-2016 season when the Eagles finished with 19 wins and were sectional runner-up. Jac-Cen-Del faces Rising Sun (9-13) tonight in the opening round of Class A Sectional 60 at Southwestern (Shelby).