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Argylls square off with 2A's Tipton

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

Playing the Class 2A fourth-ranked Tipton boys’ basketball at any time in Sectional 39 at Eastern High School figures to be a daunting task. Madison-Grant gets the first shot.

Madison-Grant (11-11) meets the Blue Devils (17-3) at around 7:30 p.m. today in the opening round, and Argylls coach Brian Trout says his young team is ready for the challenge.

“On paper they’re the favorite,” Trout said of Tipton. “The way I look at it, you got to play the favorite at some point if you want to win a sectional, and it really doesn’t matter if first game, second game or third game. At some point you got to go through them.

“If we play the way we’ve been playing and with the energy I think it will be really good game, and we have chance to beat them,” he added. “I don’t say that just to say that. I think we match up with them pretty good and some of the things we do can cause them problems.”

The Argylls have started three sophomores and played two more extensively this season, and the result was a six-game improvement over 2017-18. During the season, they had a three-point loss (69-66) to a Northwestern team which later obtained the No. 1 ranking in 3A and signature wins over Three Rivers Conference champion Wabash (73-70, overtime) and Blackford (69-67) with the state’s leading scorer Luke Brown.

While the Argylls lost five of their last eight regular season games, Trout said they have continued to make strides – most notably on defense. The sophomores, led by point guard Grant Brown and guard Kaden Howell, also have shown growth throughout the season.

“Defensively, the first half of the season, we were giving up 65 points and the second half it’s 56,” Trout said. “We’ve cut off about eight points, and that’s been a focus all year to get better defensively.

“We’ve only had three games the second half of year where we’ve given up 60 points or more, and I felt like we’ve grown there and done a much better job,” he added.

Howell is the leading scorer at 13 points and he’s been a prolific 3-point shooter (57-of-131) and also connects on 80 percent from the free throw line. Brown averages 11.5 points and passes out 6.4 assists a game.

Wyatt Rudy provides the senior leadership and the 6-1 forward averages 11.9 points, while 6-3 senior Isaac Cooper has provided an inside presence with 11.4 points and a team-best 5.9 rebounds in his first varsity season.

“The inside game with addition of Cooper has really helped set up our outside shooters,” Trout said. “We’re still pretty young, and even though our point guard (Brown) played last year, he’s a young point guard. We made huge strides this year like I thought we would.”

Tipton is a tournament-tested team, winning Sectional 39 last year before being eliminated by eventual state champion Oak Hill in the regional final at Lapel. Carson Dolezal, a 6-2 senior point guard, will get Indiana All-Star team consideration, and 6-7 junior Ben Humrichous is the Blue Devils’ top 3-point shooter.

Dolezal leads the Blue Devils with a 15.7-point scoring average and chips in 4.4 assists, and Humrichous follows at 12.9 points and shoots 44 percent from 3-point range (42-of-95).

“If we allow (Dolezal) to penetrate and create that’s going to cause a lot of problems for us, and we have to contain him,” Trout said. “Humrichous is 6-7 but he plays on the perimeter and we got to know where he is at all times because he’s a pretty good shooter, too.

“(Humrichous) has grown a lot in the last year and has a lot of guard skills, and that creates a little bit of matchup issues,” Trout added. “We have to make sure we some length because he can shoot over guys because of his length.”

Trout said the Argylls must handle the physicality of the Blue Devils defense and play aggressively. Tipton is a team that likes to control tempo and has scored 54.8 points while allowing 43.3.

Madison-Grant has played spoiler against Tipton before. In the 2015 sectional final, the Argylls upset the favored Blue Devils 40-39 in overtime and went on to a regional runner-up finish.

“I think it will be a good game,” Trout said.