By Jeff Robison
INDIANAPOLIS — Big game performances can look even bigger on a big stage.
On Saturday night, Danville’s Ian Asher and Cascade’s Hayden Suter both put up career-high scoring totals as the Warriors and Cadets renewed their annual rivalry at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Game 3 of the Hoosier Invitational. Danville pulled away from the Cadets in the second half for a 67-58 victory.
Asher, who tallied 33 points, and Suter, who finished with 27, matched each other in the first half with 19 points apiece. But the Cadets went to the break with a 32-31 halftime lead.
After the break, the duel between the two took a decided advantage for Asher as he outscored Suter 14-8. The Warriors got an additional boost from 14 second-half points from Avery Motes. That scoring led to Danville maintaining its 5-0 record, while leaving the Cadets (0-5) and still searching for their first win of the year.
Both Danville coach Brian Barber and Cascade coach Chris DuBois agreed that playing on the Pacers’ home floor brought out some of the best in their teams.
“That was a typical backyard rivalry game,” Barber said. “Cascade did a good job being aggressive and physical, and we had to fight through some adversity with foul trouble.”
DuBois added, “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our guys. It was the best we have played versus a quality opponent. The kids left everything out there.”
The Warriors got off to a 7-0 start as things looked rough early for the Cadets. But Suter got Cascade going offensively by assisting Schuyler Hart on the first two Cadets’ scores.
Then Suter found his own range on a 3-pointer, lifting his team into a lead at the first break, and stretching that advantage to 10 points (25-15) early in the second quarter.
But a combination of Asher’s offense and changes on defense drew Danville back into contention.
Danville finally slowed Suter’s scoring by the third quarter, limiting him to three field goals and just five attempts after the break.
Meanwhile, Motes, who was one of six shooting in the first half, finally got some shots to fall. But it was Asher who finally gave Danville the lead for good with a trey to close out the third quarter, with Danville up 45-43.
“There are nights where someone has to pick it up for the team, and tonight it was me,” Asher said. “(My teammates) relied on me in some tough times, and the coaches wanted me to take the shot.”
Barber noted that it took some adjustments for the Warriors to finally get ahead.
“Suter was on fire, we had to get out of our press and go man-to-man,” Barber said. “We kept (Scott) Amor on Suter and tried to make him work.”
DuBois agreed that Danville’s defense finally made the difference.
“(Suter) was in the zone, and he got us going,” DuBois said. “The good start gave us confidence, but they pressured us more, and we didn’t get the ball in Suter’s hands in the second half.”
Asher’s 33 points were a game-high number, while Motes was the only other Warrior in double digits with 16. After Suter’s 27 points, Cascade’s best efforts came from Eric Bobadilla (9 points) and Hart (8 points). Danville’s Tyler Ross was the top rebounder with nine.
Capping off the evening, a member of each team was named to the AAA Insurance All-Academic Team, a salute to the top academic athlete for each of the participating teams in the Hoosier Invitational. Taking home the awards were C. J. Just for Danville and Daljot Bajwa for Cascade.