CEDAR LAKE | Doug Nelson doesn't put Wheeler on the Hanover Central girls basketball schedule for a reason.
"I don't want to play against my brother," said Nelson, who beat his brother Dustin's Bearcats 49-38 by luck of the draw.
Hanover Central will play Knox in today's 7:30 p.m. championship game. The Redskins were 47-45 winners over Griffith in the other semifinal.
For the brothers to meet for the first time since Doug Nelson has been the coach at Hanover and Dustin has been at Wheeler, the Wildcats had to beat Morton in a morning game of the Hanover Central Tournament on Thursday and the Bearcats had to beat Bowman Academy.
The two played against each other when Doug was at Marquette Catholic and Dustin coached Washington Township.
Now that Hanover is a Class 3A team, the two teams no longer meet in sectional play, so there's no need to scout each other.
"We're really focused on our sectional opponents, like Bowman, Whiting and Bishop Noll," Dustin Nelson said. "This tournament will get us stronger and prepare us for the conference tournament and the sectional."
Hanover Central will play Knox at 7:30 p.m. in today’s championship game. The Redskins beat Griffith 47-45 in the other semifinal.
Hanover (8-3) had a 29-12 lead at halftime after holding the Bearcats to three points in the first quarter. Wheeler pulled closer with a second-half press that forced the Wildcats into 15 turnovers.
Hanover played without leading scorer Blayr Poston, who had a cast on her left (non-shooting) hand. Poston will be re-evaluated Monday after falling and breaking her hand in practice.
When Frankie Turturillo was called for her fourth foul and had to sit, the Wildcats were in search of a guard.
"We don't have another guard. We have guards, but we don't have someone else that can play point," Doug Nelson said. "We were looking to see who could step up."
The Wildcats were led by 12 points and 10 rebounds from Rylie Singleton, who missed the last portion of the fourth quarter after tweaking her knee. She was walking without help after the game.
Allie Stevenson led all scorers with 14 points, and Nickole Finch added 10, held below her average by Hanover post player Kristen Roper.
"Our goal was to keep (Finch) below her average of 16, and Kristen did a great job on her," Doug Nelson said. "She was physical when it was time to be physical and did a great job."
In the second game, Griffith lost the services of Sammi Adams, who had 24 points in the first-round game, when she was elbowed in the mouth in the third quarter. She didn’t return and finished with seven points.
The Panthers were led by 14 points from Taylor Austin, but a putback by Knox’s Miranda Shepherd with 5.9 seconds remaining broke a 45-45 tie. Griffith set up a play, but the shot didn’t fall.
“We got beat up the floor,” Griffith coach Tom Golumbeck said. “We didn’t do a good job executing.
“We dug ourselves a hole in the first five minutes of the game and the first five minutes of the third quarter. It took a lot of us to get back into it.”
The Panthers also picked up 12 points from Emma Blackard.