Coming in on a three-game losing skid, the Ben Davis boys’ basketball team had been anything but consistent. But, the Giants overcame an early slew of turnovers and pulled out an 81-71 victory over Gary Bowman Academy Eagles (ranked sixth among all schools in the latest IBCA coaches poll) Friday night at BD.
Ben Davis fought back from an opening 14-2 deficit and rode junior Brennan Gillis’ career-high 35 points to gain the Giants’ most impressive victory of the year.
Plagued by seven early turnovers, the Giants did not look like they were on the way to victory. Bowman caused most of the problems with an active full-court defense, but Ben Davis guards DeShon Tate, Chris Evans and Michael Beaty finally solved that pressure problem and cut back the turnovers to just 11 spread across three quarters.
Ben Davis coach Mark James was upbeat about his team’s performance and victory.
“This was probably the best the kids have executed the game plan all year,” James said. “We have had a real issue with turnovers all year, and this was most pressure-oriented team we have faced all year. We did not stay and wait on traps, but tried to take the ball at them, and that became a positive for us.”
As Ben Davis got better at attacking Bowman’s defense, Gillis was the go-to man. Not only did Gillis convert 9 of 14 field goals, but he also sparkled at the free throw line with 17 of the Giants’ 30 points there.
“Our guards had to calm down and look at what we had,” Gillis said. “Once we got the ball across the court, it was all over.”
Ben Davis was more cohesive as the game progressed, and Bowman coach Marvin Rea felt his team became more divided.
“We had guys that came in with intensity and hustling when we started,” Rea said. “But when we subbed, we had guys that took things for granted. We need each and every guy to win games. Tonight, that just did not happen.”
Still, it was Bowman that controlled the lead until Ben Davis used an 8-0 run to finally take it in the third quarter.
Momentum stayed with the Giants as the third period ended with Tate knocking down a 3-pointer at the buzzer, starting the 13-0 run that secured the victory for the hosts.
Both runs were spurred by Ben Davis steals, three from Beaty and two by Evans.
“We were doubling hard down in the post, and guys rotated pretty good,” James said. “We were lucky on a couple of those plays, but the fact that we that we hit so many free throws was a key, too. This was the best that our guards have played together this year.”
Gillis led four Giants in double figures, as he was joined by Beaty (17), Stephon Matthews (13) and Tate (12). Justin King paced Bowman with 18 points, followed by 17 points from Davon Dillard. Beaty was the game’s top rebounder with seven.
The win improved Ben Davis to 4-4 and the Giants return to action on Friday night as they host MIC rival North Central in their final game before the Marion County Tournament opens Jan. 14.