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Defense sends Knights to regional final

CELEBRATE: Southwood's Dallas Holmes (10) and Matt Nose (34) celebrate after three blocks from Holmes in one possession during the first quarter of the Knights' regional game against North Vermillion.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

As the old adage goes, defense wins champions. On Saturday, it got Southwood to the regional championship.

In the opening regional contest at Frankfort against North Vermillion, the Knights held the Falcons scoreless for the opening six minutes while opening up a 20-point lead that they carried to a convincing win.

“You know us. We preach defense,” Southwood head coach John Burrus said. “No matter how good you are on offense, you have to play good defense. That carried us today in that game. North Vermillion, they’re a pretty good defensive team. That’s one of their big strengths. Their defense is much better than their offense. They’ve locked up a lot of teams this year. When they lose, it’s because they can’t score. They usually can play good defense and have a chance.

“At the end of the day, our defense, I think, affected their offense.”

Dallas Holmes and Carson Blair ensured the Knights got off to a good start offensively as the two each hit a three-pointer to start.

Holmes would reject a trio of Falcon shots in the same possession before knocking down his second three on the other end, forcing a timeout from the Falcons.

An and-one from Blair, layups from Peyton Trexler and a three from Blair prompted another North Vermillion timeout with the Falcons trailing 19-0 with 1:18 left in the first.

A turnover out of the timeout turned into a layup for Trexler and prompted a third North Vermillion timeout of the first quarter. The Falcons would finally get on the board with a layup from Trevor Eppert, but the Knights led 22-2 after one.

The margin only grew in the second period as Holmes connected on a pair of threes to open the quarter as part of an 8-2 run. Nose would knock in a pair of long-range buckets in the quarter, his first one leading to North Vermillion’s fourth timeout of the first half with the Knights up 33-7.

Trexler closed the half in style, driving the length of the court for a layup in less than five seconds to send Southwood into the locker room up 44-15.

The Falcons never trimmed the lead lower than 29 points the rest of the way, with Southwood offering a continued barrage of long-range baskets. The Knights hit 14 three-pointers in total on the day, with Holmes hitting five of them.

The junior forward poured in a game-high 23 points while Blair finished with 18. Nose added 15 and Trexler 14.

The Falcons were led by Eppert’s 19 points while Jonathon Kilgore added seven and Christopher Ellis six.

“We had a great practice over here this week,” Burrus said. “Playing in the regional this year was different than last year. Number one, the competition level is not what we dealt with. We got beat by the state champs last year in 2A. So we’re coming into a single-A scenario where we haven’t won the regional yet, but we feel like we have a lot better chance of advancing. Last year, we were done right now. We’re a step ahead of last year. Class 1A is a different level.”

Southwood advanced to the regional final where they played the winner of the second match-up of the regional between Seton Catholic and Southern Wells.

Results of the regional championship game, however, were not available as of Saturday deadline. A full recap of Saturday night’s game will be available on wabashplaindealer.com.