By Justin Whitaker
DANVILLE — DANVILLE — In a seesaw battle between boys’ basketball rivals Avon and Danville, it was only natural the game was decided on the final possession.
Oriole senior Aaron Bode scored on an up-and-under move from just outside the lane as time expired to send Avon home with a 46-44 victory over Danville Friday night in the semifinals of the Hendricks Regional Health County Basketball Tournament.
“I guess I got double or triple teamed, I didn’t really see, but I knew I wanted to get some space to get a shot off,” Bode said. “I got knocked down on the play so I didn’t see it until the very end but definitely relief and excitement when it went in.”
Danville tied the score at 44 with under 20 seconds to go as Tyler Ross snatched an offensive rebound, scored the putback and was fouled to complete the three-point play.
“Tyler’s been playing really confident for us,” Danville coach Brian Barber said. “The last several weeks there have been times where he is our best player on the floor. He’s just done a super job of staying poised and battling.”
Avon coach Jason Young elected not to take a timeout and let his Orioles play.
“We executed a set play without having to use a timeout there in the final seconds and you had senior Jordan Rhoades delivering it to senior Aaron Bode and he made a nice up-and-under move,” Young said.
There were 15 lead changes and both teams were rarely separated by more than two possessions throughout the contest. Avon led 13-12 after the first, Danville had a 24-23 lead at halftime and the Warriors led 35-32 at the end of the third.
“It was a great game,” Barber said. “It was one of those games where kids played their hearts out. I thought it was a well-played game by both teams. It’s what you would expect in the semifinals of the county tournament with two rivals.
“We are proud of our guys, we wanted to win but we are pleased with our effort.”
On Nov. 30, the two rivals met at Danville where the Warriors pulled off the 51-48 victory. Last season the two teams met in the county championship game where Avon was victorious.
The Danville-Avon matchups have been instant classics lately and the mutual respect is between the squads is evident.
“We’ve just had a great rivalry over the years, several overtime games and Coach Young and I our friends too,” Barber said. “The schools are seven miles apart so it’s just always a great game and we wish Avon good luck in the championship.”
But Bode’s first-ever varsity buzzer-beater was an important one.
“This is a vindicating win for us,” Bode said. “It was a tough game for us a couple of weeks ago and to get the win is huge. We know the guys on Danville pretty well so it’s always good to beat a rival. And on a similar play when it’s a one possession game like last game when it didn’t go our way, to get it our way was huge.”
Oriole senior Connor Funkhouser contributed a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds as he was able to benefit from Avon countering Danville’s 1-3-1.
“Connor can create so well off the dribble we decided to get the ball in his hands and play him up in the guard spot against that and he attacked that very well,” Young said.
The Warriors’ 1-2 punch of seniors Avery Motes and Ian Asher both scored team-highs of 14 points.
Avon advances to the county championship game against rival Brownsburg where they will look to become the first-ever boys’ team in Hendricks County history to win three straight years.
“It’s exciting, we are really happy for the kids,” Young said. “They’ve worked very hard and we’ve played a lot of good opponents in the first 11 games. We are going to play a good one tonight.”