Saturday, February 17, 2018 7:40 pm
Central Noble 52, Frankton 44
Central Noble headed to state finals
AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette
LOGANSPORT – Another year, another step forward for Central Noble.
The Cougars beat Frankton 52-44 in the Class 2A semistate championship at the Berry Bowl on Saturday to earn the school's first-ever trip to a state finals.
"This is the greatest feeling ever. The only thing that could stop is if, no, when we win state," junior Meleah Leatherman said. "(We had) nerves in the beginning, we kind of were shaky and freaked out so we had to calm down a little bit."
Central Noble lost to Oak Hill last year in the semistate, also in Logansport.
"It's great as a player to do it, but to do it as a coach is completely different," said Cougars coach Josh Treesh, who played in a 1996 semistate with East Noble. "I think it's more nerve-wracking on the sideline than it is to actually be out playing. It hasn't sunk in at all. I'm going to enjoy this time with my team and start thinking about (state) Monday."
The Cougars (22-5) will face Winchester (26-2) in the 2A title game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 12:45 p.m. next Saturday. Winchester defeated Paoli 49-47 in overtime in the southern semistate in Jeffersonville.
Meleah Leatherman led Central Noble with 21 points and 15 rebounds and Sydney Freeman had 15 points.
The Cougars trailed 27-24 early in the third quarter but responded with a 16-0 run to take a 40-27 lead at the end of the quarter, making up for a shaky start by both teams early in the game.
"(At halftime) we talked about how we needed to keep going on defense and rebounding," junior Sydney Freeman said. "We also said we needed to stay poised and not let it get to our heads. ... (Experience) helped us a lot because we weren't as nervous as Frankton so we could use that to our advantage."
The Eagles (23-6) outscored Central Noble 17-12 in the last quarter, but the Cougars did enough to preserve the lead and win.
"(In the third quarter,) it was about time that we settled down because that first quarter was a little rough," Treesh said. "Once we got that first basket, I thought we relaxed a little bit. We knew it was going to go back and forth with Frankton. They're a very good ballclub. We knew Sydney and Meleah had to make some big shots."
A major part of the Cougars' gameplan was to get Frankton's post player Destyne Knight into foul trouble. Knight picked up her third foul early in the third quarter, forcing the Eagles to reorganize their defense.
With that, Central Noble shot 63.7 percent (7 of 11) in the third quarter while limiting Frankton to just 2 of 11, 0 of 6 from 3.
"(Knight's foul trouble) completely changed their whole defense, I think," Treesh said. "We were able to go at (Sydney Tucker), their next-best defender, and (Tucker) can't guard Meleah inside and I thought our girls did a good job of recognizing that."
Sydney Tucker led the Eagles with 15 points.