Yorktown uses late surge to defeat Muncie Central

Muncie Central High school senior DeMarkis Cole dribbles the ball against Yorktown Feb. 13 at Yorktown high school. David Moore, DN
Muncie Central High school senior DeMarkis Cole dribbles the ball against Yorktown Feb. 13 at Yorktown high school. David Moore, DN

On Tuesday evening, the Yorktown Tigers (11-8) took the court against the Muncie Central Bearcats (7-13). The series between these two storied programs of Delaware County has been dominated by the purple and white with the Bearcats winning 15 of the last 18 meetings dating back to the 2004-05 season. However, Yorktown would put that trend at a halt as the Tigers took the 43-30 win.

From the opening tip, it was a slow-paced game, with both sides trying to get a read on how the opposition would play them. Neither side gained their footing as half of the opening quarter had already passed. A total of only five points had been scored between the two squads.

“Our defense was pretty good early,” Muncie Central head coach Justin Ullom said. “But that’s because we had energy and it was early in the game.”

The Tigers came out in a 2-3 zone defense which forced the Bearcats to swing the ball around the perimeter without much dribble penetration.

As a result, the Bearcats relied on the free throw line and defense throughout the first quarter to keep within striking distance, holding the deficit to just five as they trailed 10-5. 

“Our defense was key tonight,” Yorktown head coach Matt Moulton said. “We broke out of that zone that we rarely play. I was really happy with how we executed that.”

The second was fast-paced and back-and-forth offensively. With both teams looking to push the pace, turnovers reared their ugly head for each side.

“It was a clunky game,” Moulton said. “We always want to run because we’ve got the horses to be able to, but when you play a zone, it slows the game down.”

With the turnover woes, the purple and black were able to capitalize off of the Yorktown miscues and find some more consistent offense throughout the second quarter. Yorktown however, couldn't find the offense they’ve gotten accustomed to this season. The green and white struggled from beyond the arc for most of the opening half.

“Coach always has trust in us,” Yorktown senior Jacob Grim said. “He tells us shooters shoot, and you can’t look back and regret any shot you take. You have to move on and keep shooting.”

With the Yorktown offensive struggles, even after the slow start, Muncie Central went into the half only trailing by three, 18-15. 

To open the second half, the Bearcats came out of the locker room with clear intensity in their eyes. The defensive pressure from the purple and black forced the Tigers into two early turnovers. Those led to easy transition baskets, which allowed the Bearcats to take their first lead of the game two minutes into the third. 

“It was to know the scout,” Ullom said. “Do what we came in here to do, and we were aggressive early which caused them to run the ball over a few times.”

The turnovers by the green and white forced a timeout, which was used to attempt to get the Tigers back on track offensively. 

“Coach told us that we have a two-hour delay tomorrow, so you better play your butts off, or else you’re going to get this L,”  Grim said. 

Immediately following the timeout, both teams settled into the second half and found consistent offense. For the Bearcats, it came in transition, while Yorktown found success with their half-court sets.

“We just concentrated more on our spacing,” Moulton said. “Against a defense like that, you’re just hoping to drive and kick or maybe throw it inside a little bit to open some stuff up.”

With offense coming more frequently for the final six minutes of the third, the Tigers were able to eke out a small lead heading into the closing quarter up 30-26. 

The fourth quarter hit, and all the momentum swung immediately to the Yorktown sideline. All of a sudden, the prevalent 3-point shooting of the Tigers was on display from sophomore Connor Rowray, and Grim, who finished with a game-high 17 points.

“You can’t always pass up your shot,” Grim said. “If it’s your shot, you’ve got to take it and believe you’re going to hit it.”

Muncie Central was unable to force turnovers, which was the primary source of their offense throughout. In addition, the Bearcats half-court sets almost entirely were run outside the perimeter. Ullom was visibly frustrated on the sideline with the lack of offense.

“Their defense is really good,” Ullom said. “I thought our guys were just going through the motions. I was frustrated with our lack of aggressiveness and attacking their zone from our guards.”

Even after calling a timeout to regroup after falling 10,  the purple and black seemingly were in their heads already and couldn’t muster any last-minute offense. Yorktown took full advantage and continued their lockdown defense in the half-court to help carry them to the victory.

In a grind-it-out type of game when shots aren't falling, Moulton knew being able to succeed in these types of games would bode them well in the postseason.

“We’ve got to be able to win any type of game,” Moulton said. “Slow it down, speed it up, we’ll play in the seventies if we have to. I just told the guys to find a way to win, and it wasn’t anything exotic.”

Yorktown will travel to Wapahani (17-2) to take on the Raiders on Feb. 17. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. Muncie Central will be on the road for their second straight, to face McCutcheon (4-14) on Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Contact David Moore with comments at david.moore@bsu.edu or on X @gingninj63


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