By Justin Whitaker
INDIANAPOLIS — INDIANAPOLIS — In an early season battle between two of the top girls’ basketball teams in central Indiana, it was the Ben Davis Giants who came out on top.
The Giants (1-0) beat the Class 4A No. 4-ranked Brownsburg Bulldogs (1-1), 47-43 last saturday night.
“This is a very good win for us,” Ben Davis coach Joe Lentz said.
Freshman Ae’Rianna Harris hit 1 of 2 free throws with 20.4 seconds left to extend Ben Davis’ lead to 46-43. Brownsburg inbounded the ball but was unable to take a shot as the Bulldogs had one of their eight fourth quarter turnovers on a miscommunication at the top of the arc.
“We were able to force some turnovers,” Lentz said. “We just hung in there and hung in there.”
Senior Amber Jones and Harris led the Giants with nine points each. They were two of five players to score at least six points or more.
The two teams were never more than four points apart throughout the fourth quarter.
In the end, bad ball management and poor free throw shooting (16 of 33) caught up with Brownsburg.
“You’re not going to win ball games turning the ball over 25 times and not hitting your free throws,” Bulldogs coach Amy Brauman said. “I felt like we could have been a little more determined at the end. We have a lot of inexperienced players and it showed. We just panicked. We had a couple opportunities, one to go ahead and one to tie it up and we turned it over.”
Brownsburg senior Stephanie Mavunga scored two of her game-high 23 points to tie the score at 38-38 with four minutes remaining. The Giants responded with a Jones layup and then a steal and layup from Danielle Cuttino.
Mavunga then answered with an offensive rebound and put back for a two-point deficit but Jones responded right back with a jumper.
Brownsburg cut Ben Davis’ lead to 44-43 after a Mavunga layup and free throw from freshman Aliyah Walker with 1:53 remaining.
Ben Davis made 3 of 7 free throws in the final two minutes to hold on to the win.
With starting two freshman, Lentz liked what he saw out of his team in the first game.
“I learned that they have a lot of heart and that the young kids will play hard,” he said. “Those things are hard to teach. I like what we can become toward the end of the year.”
Mavunga, a North Carolina commit, had 13 of her 23 points in the second half to get the Bulldogs back in the contest. The rest of her team shot 3 for 15 in the final two periods.
“In the second half, she (Mavunga) got on the block and made some great moves,” Brauman said. “We had other girls who got their shots, they just didn’t hit their shots.”
Besides practicing free throws, Brauman said she wants her team to work on responding better to adversity.
“We’ve got to have some resilience,” she said. “I thought when times got tough we started feeling sorry for ourselves and we’ve got a tough schedule so we’ve got a long ways to go.”