Redbirds, Cardinals cruise through HDC semifinals, set up Friday night championship rematch

Just 11 nights after the #1 ranked Winston Redbirds survived a road test at Mercer to remain unbeaten and take the outright lead in the HDC Conference’s regular season race, the two rivals are ready for a rematch.

This time, Winston will play Mercer on the Redbird home floor, in the championship game of the HDC Conference Basketball Tournament, Friday night at 8 o’clock.  Both teams handled semifinal challenges on Wednesday night, with Winston defeating East Harrison 78-46 while Mercer took down North Harrison 63-31.

In the Mercer victory, the Cardinals took control of the semifinal game at Winston High School early, leading the Shamrocks 43-13 at halftime and coasting to the win in the second half.  Cash Hartley paced the Mercer attack with 18 points, with Bryer Noe and Grey Porter both contributing 14.  Randy Rinehart had 16 points for North Harrison.

The Winston boys, much like Mercer, throttled East Harrison early, outscoring the Bobcats 25-9 in the first quarter, and leading 60-16 at the half in a 78-46 win that leaves the Redbirds still unbeaten heading into Friday night’s “Battle of the Birds”.

Sophomore shooting guard Jacob Lewis had 27 points, with his older brother Craig adding 14 for WHS.  Cy Uthe had 12.  For East Harrison, Ethan Claycomb had 17 points and Dakota Mihalek 13.

The boys 7th place game was played at Winston on Wednesday night, starting the 3-game session.  The Newtown-Harris Tigers took 7th place with a 62-51 win over the Tri-County Mustangs.  For the Tigers, Andrew Garcia had 21 points, Ben Henry 18, and Josh Allen 12.  Lance Cook had 19 points, Fernando Bechtel 15, and Jeran Critten 13 for the Mustangs.

Tonight’s (Thursday night’s) schedule from the HDC Tournament starts with the consolation championship games, including East Harrison’s Lady Bobcats battling the Winston Lady Redbirds at 5 o’clock.  A Gilman City Hawks / Grundy R-5 Panthers doubleheader follows, with the boys consolation final at 6:30 followed by the girl’s third place game at 8 o’clock.

Friday night’s slate of games from Winston start at 5 o’clock, as the North Harrison Shamrocks and East Harrison Bobcats meet for the boys 3rd place honors.  The #1 ranked Mercer Lady Cardinals will take on North Harrison at 6:30 for the girls championship, followed by the Mercer/Winston boys showdown at 8 o’clock.