BY AARON PATTERSON
Chrisman boys basketball coach Greg Gisinger has a way of getting his team to step up its game at just the right time.
Last season, the Cardinals turned heads when, after managing only one win the entire regular season, they defeated Martinsville and Tri-County to advance to a Class 1A regional championship game.
Just when many might have started to count them out this season, the Cardinals have once again responded with huge wins over Class 1A eighth-ranked Salt Fork and Class 2A No. 10 Westville during the final stretch. Now, they find themselves in tonight’s 6 p.m. regional semifinal game after defeating the Milford Bearcats 46-39 for their seventh win in a row.
“We have a lot of confidence,” Chrisman junior guard Ty Bolen said. “We’ve been talking about how we just need to be playing with that level of intensity that we have. It’s coming together at the right time.
“I think (intensity) is probably (the difference from the beginning of the season). We’re just coming out more fired up. We’ve changed our pregame, and it’s just been working for us.”
Bolen came out of the halftime locker room fired up and gave the Cardinals a much-needed spark to avoid a season-ending loss. The Bearcats led 21-16 at the break, but Bolen hit three consecutive threes to give his team a 25-23 lead. He finished with 22 points making all of his field goals from behind the three-point arc.
Wyatt Avenatti also hit a pair of threes in the third quarter as part of his eight points.
Milford was led by Jeff Cann’s 13 points and six rebounds, and Alex Portwood also reached double figures with 12 points. Jacob Rogers had a game-high 16 rebounds for the Bearcats.
The Cardinals will now get a rematch with the Salt Fork Storm in tonight’s semifinal, but they realize it might be a different game than their previous meeting on the same court.
“We’re playing hard, and when you play hard, you shoot better, you get extra possessions because of the loose balls,” Gisinger said. “I’m really proud of the seniors. It’s a big turnaround from last year when we had one regular season win, and we’ve won 16 this year. It’s been a great turnaround for us. We just want to keep playing. We want to keep the season going as long as we can.”