GCA downs Trinity behind strong second half



Part of what has kept the Greenwood Christian boys basketball team unbeaten this season is the Cougars’ ability to have one or more players go on a tear at any given time.

On Tuesday night, it was Derek Petersen’s turn with the NBA Jam flames.

The senior guard scored 17 of his game-high 29 points in the third quarter, turning what had been a tight game against visiting Trinity Lutheran into a 94-49 laugher.

“I told them at halftime, ‘They are going to punch us with everything they’ve got here to start the third quarter — how are we doing to respond?’ And we really didn’t,” Trinity coach Michael McBride said.

“(Petersen) is unbelievable. We started losing him off screens, or we’d double away and leave him alone.”

With the Class A No. 1 Cougars (19-0) up by just six to start the second half, Petersen found his stroke, hitting back-to-back 3s in the first minute of the third quarter. He added two more shots from deep midway through the period to stretch the GCA lead to 15, then another at the 1:48 mark to make it a 56-36 game.

His three-point play at the start of the fourth put Greenwood Christian comfortably ahead, 63-38, and it continued to get worse from there for Trinity Lutheran (10-10). By the time GCA coach Jonny Marlin emptied his bench midway through the final quarter, his team had opened up an 82-40 gap.

The visitors — also nicknamed Cougars for confusion’s sake — put GCA on its heels early with some hot outside shooting, knocking down four 3-pointers in the first quarter to take a surprising 18-11 lead.

“Early on, I thought they competed,” McBride said. “They knew how good Greenwood Christian was, and for a half, we actually competed. We stayed within what we were trying to do.”

But that early burst seemed to awaken the sleeping giant, which responded with 10 consecutive points to reclaim the upper hand. Styles McCorkle ended the opening period with a 3 and GCA outscored Trinity Lutheran 7-0 over the first four minutes of the second.

Only the scrappy play of Tyler Goecker, who had six of his team’s seven points in the quarter, kept Trinity (10-10) within striking distance, 31-25, at the half.

Petersen made sure the game didn’t stay close for much longer.

Champ McCorkle finished with 22 points for Greenwood Christian, followed by Evan Stinnett and Andrew Anderson with nine apiece and Cam Paulin with eight. Anderson also contributed four blocked shots and three steals.

Mitchell Hackman had 19 points to lead Trinity, which also got 13 points and eight boards from Goecker and six points each from Hudson Norton and Jack Marksberry.

“The problem is when one wheel fell off,” McBride said, “we started watching that wheel and let other wheels fall off rather than trying to grab that wheel and try and figure out a way to keep going.”

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