By Corey Elliott
AVON — Ben Davis (11-5) outlasted Avon (8-10) Saturday night in a boys’ basketball matchup with a solid 49-39 win on the road as both teams were playing their second game of a back-to-back weekend. The Orioles found themselves in a hole early as Giants’ sophomore Brennan Gillis and senior Tony Wills led a Ben Davis scoring attack that was predicated on points in the paint as the pair combined for 32. Gillis scored six in the first quarter that put Ben Davis up 12-5, forcing the Orioles to spend an early time out.
“I thought they both played hard,” Ben David coach Mark James said. “They’re our leading scorers. They have been struggling a little bit and I didn’t know how they were going to play after getting beat last night and that’s always hard because you don’t know for sure how they’re going to react but it was a good win for us.”
It was no easy task for the Giants as they ended the first half with a jump shot from Gillis at the buzzer after holding for the last shot from 55 seconds left, giving Ben Davis a 25-13 lead at the half. It was hard enough for the Orioles to get good looks on offense, let alone stop the Giants from having their way when Avon was on defense.
“Our margin of error is not very big,” Avon coach Jason Young said. “We didn’t play well in the first half. We talked all day about making Wills go with his right hand and to try and make him a pull-up shooter and I thought we defended him well, but he is a Division one player. He’s going to get his. He’s a tough matchup.”
Despite the deficit to start the third quarter, Avon fought back and pulled the game to within six with less than a minute to go in the third. Wills hit a three with 51 seconds to play in the third but Avon responded with a three-point-play that looked like it was going to shift the momentum heading into the fourth. But with five seconds to go, Wills drove to his left and laid it in and then stole the inbound pass with one second and hit a layup as time expired in the third quarter, giving Ben Davis a 10-point lead.
“We had it down to six at the end of the third quarter but we let him (Wills) go left and he laid it in and then we turned it over underneath our own basket and the lead goes to 10,” Young said. “That was big. We had only given up seven points in seven minutes and 50 seconds and then gave up four points in 10 seconds.”
From that point, Ben Davis didn’t look back, although Avon had opportunities. At one point in the second half, the foul ratio was in favor of the Orioles as they were in the bonus before the third quarter even ended. Seven Ben Davis fouls were called in comparison to zero fouls against Avon, but the Orioles couldn’t take advantage of the Giants’ foul trouble.
“That’s part of it,” James laughed. “The official told me if you’ll stop fouling, I’ll stop calling them, so I told my kids to stop fouling.”