Sullivan ekes out win in season opener

South Knox's boys basketball team had its chance against Sullivan on Wednesday, but didn't do much with it.

Down two with possession in the final 10 seconds, Dylan Maeder's pass to Cody Dawson in the high post was tipped away. A loose ball ensued and by the time the Spartans corralled it, the buzzer sounded and the Golden Arrows escaped with a 61-59 season-opening victory.

Dakota Candler scored 14 in his career-high 22 points in the fourth quarter for South Knox, which did a lot right on the offensive end of the floor. Cody Dawson came off the bench to tack on 11 points and Brennon Robinson chipped in 10.

The Spartans shot 56 percent (23-41) and made just eight turnovers. But the defensive end let them down. Sullivan's Randy Kelley was a game-long problem on his way to 22 points, scoring eight in the final quarter and was 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. His ability to drive past South Knox opened it up for guard-mate Rocco Roshel, who was 5-of-9 from 3-point range and collected 18 points.

The Arrows hit 17-of-19 from the free-throw line and committed just four miscues. It was the fifth consecutive year Sullivan has claimed the annual season opener.

"I don't know why we couldn't contain Kelley. We bailed him out, and we can't let him shoot eight free throws. It's frustrating," Spartans coach David Burkett said. "Our team has the potential to not just be good but really good. But we have to beat the good teams to be known as a good team.

"I'm encouraged by some things. Candler gave us good production. Dawson and (Tristian) Wirth gave us good play off the bench. Thomas and Robinson played well too," Burkett said. "But I want to win. You have to win close games. That's what it's going to take to win a sectional."

It was tight throughout. South Knox's biggest lead was at 20-12, when Candler, Robinson and Dawson converted consecutive baskets. Sullivan pulled ahead as far as 37-30 on one of Roshel's 3-pointers.

Wirth and Dawson netted back-to-back threes, and Dawson drained two free throws with :01 on the clock to pull the Spartans within 43-42 going into the final stanza.

It was like two horses running side-by-side down the stretch. The game was tied at 46 and 48. Candler's 3-pointer pushed South Knox ahead 51-50 with 4:25 remaining.

But Sullivan didn't have any empty trips toward the end. Kelley drilled six consecutive free throws, all coming on one-and-bonus tries. Candler, who was 8-of-10 shooting, kept the Spartans in it. The junior hit two free throws at :58 on the clock, converted a drive at :45 and drove to a three-point play with 18 seconds showing.

The Arrows made their first 15 free throws before South Knox found the right player to foul. Jack Ridgway was sent to the line with :37 and :14 on the clock. He made 1-of-2 both times, the last giving Sullivan a two-point lead.

The Spartans opted not to call a time out, but their last play never materialized.

"We thought we might be down three, so the play was set up more for a three," Burkett said. "That's why we had Logan Fisher in there and Dawson. We had three options for it. But we fumbled it around and gave it away."

Although it wasn't close to the end of the game, Sullivan made a big play to finish the first half.

South Knox, which hadn't trailed up to that point, was up 25-23 when it tried to hold the ball in the final minute for a last shot. But Kelley produced a steal and fed Roshel, who turned a layup into a three-point play, giving the Arrows their first lead at halftime, 26-25.

The junior varsity Spartans pulled out a 40-33 victory. Jackson Hoops scored 10 points, Evan Thompson nine, Isaac True seven and Justin Siewers six.

South Knox plays at White River Valley at 6 p.m. next Friday.

SULLIVAN 61, SOUTH KNOX 59

BOYS-WEDNESDAY

SULLIVAN

Ridgway (f) 2-3 3-5 7, Hills (f) 3-6 3-3 9, Kelley (g) 7-15 8-8 22, R.Roshel (g) 6-10 1-1 18, Adams (g) 0-4 2-2 2, Gettinger 1-1 0-0 3, M.Roshel 0-0 0-0 0, Woodard 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-39 17-19 61.

SOUTH KNOX

Singleton (f) 2-3 0-0 4, Candler (f) 8-10 5-5 22, Maeder (g) 1-5 0-1 2, Robinson (g) 4-8 1-4 10, Thomas (g) 2-4 0-0 4, Dawson 4-7 2-2 11, Fisher 0-0 0-0 0, Wirth 2-4 0-0 6, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-41 8-12 59.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Sullivan |9-17-17-18 — 61

South Knox|12-13-17-17 — 59

3-pointers: Sullivan 6-17 (R.Roshel 5-9, Gettinger 1-1, Adams 0-1, Ridgway 0-1, Kelley 0-5), South Knox 5-7 (Wirth 2-2, Candler 1-1, Robinson 1-1, Dawson 1-1, Maeder 0-2). Rebounds: Sullivan 10 (Ridgway, Hills 4), South Knox 20 (Maeder 7). Turnovers: Sullivan 4, South Knox 8. Fouls: Sullivan 15, South Knox 19. Fouled out: Thomas. JV: South Knox 40-33.

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