JENKINS
JENKINS
Carmel is one step closer to a sectional championship after Friday night’s 62-56 win over Hamilton Southeastern in a Class 4A Sectional 8 semifinal contest at The Mill at Noblesville.

Senior point guard Cole Jenkins scored a team-high 19 for the Greyhounds, with seven of those points coming in a first quarter that saw both teams start slowly out of the gate.

Southeastern held Carmel to just three points in the game’s first six minutes, as the Royals grabbed an early 7-3 lead. Behind Jenkins, the Greyhounds fought back to lock the score at 10-all by the end of the quarter.

Carmel stretched its lead to 15-10 a couple minutes into the second on an old-fashioned 3-point play by junior forward John Michael Mulloy. The Butler-bound prospect finished with 14 points on 5-of-10 from the floor.

Senior Chaz Birchfield carried Southeastern in the first half, scoring 11 of his game-high 23 in the game’s first 16 minutes. At the half, Carmel held a 24-21 advantage.

The Greyhounds extended their lead to seven, 28-21, early in the third, after Birchfield received a technical foul for his role in an ongoing conversation with some opposing fans. Carmel extended the lead to 34-25, before junior guard Luke Heady earned his own technical foul and Southeastern cut the margin to seven. Mulloy picked up his fourth foul late in the third and was forced to sit. The Greyhounds outscored the Royals 15-11 in the quarter and used a last-second basket from Jenkins to take a 39-32 lead into the fourth.

A bucket from junior point guard Noah Smith brought Southeastern to within five, 46-41, with about 4:30 left to play, but another 3-point play by Mulloy put Carmel back up seven with less than three minutes remaining.

The Greyhounds converted their free throws down the stretch and avenged their regular season loss to the Royals. Carmel made 25-of-30 at the foul line, while Southeastern went 17-of-23.

Both sides pulled down 19 rebounds and seven offensive boards each. Mulloy and Jenkins led Carmel on the glass with seven and six, respectively. Birchfield and Aaron Etherington pulled down four each for Southeastern.

Heady, who finished with 16 points, made 11-of-13 at the foul line. Smith, who scored 13, made five of his seven free throw attempts. Etherington chipped in with 11 points.

Carmel (17-6) plays Fishers (12-11) in tonight’s Sectional 8 championship game. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at The Mill.

Southeastern’s season comes to a close with the loss. The Royals finished with a 17-8 record.