By Corey Elliott
— The Ben Davis girls’ basketball team held off a relentless second half surge from Decatur Central (7-8) last Thursday night with a 62-52 road victory over the Hawks. Behind an aggressive defensive effort combined with senior Amber Jones and freshman Ae Rianna Harris’ combined 28 points, Ben Davis (8-7) was able to outlast the Hawks and move above the .500 mark on the season.
From the tip off it was evident that Ben Davis was on a business trip and the Giants were not trying to waste any time getting the job done. A quick 8-2 lead in the first quarter was a product of a Giants’ game plan that emphasized an aggressive offensive attack.
“That’s the kind of tempo we want to bring every single game,” Ben Davis Coach Joe Lentz said. “It’s becoming more of our thing lately and that’s what we want and the better we become the more of that there’ll be.”
Much of Ben Davis’ success on offense came from Harris’ ability to drive the basket at will, collecting many of her points down in the lane.
“If you’re in the paint, you might as well keep driving,” Harris said. “I’m going to get the foul or I’m going to get the shot.”
Harris’ ability to attack the basket and utilize her height advantage on opponents is a skill set not seen too often in freshmen at the varsity level. But with senior Amber Jones there to lend advice and lead by example, it can make adjusting an easy process.
“At first it was tough, but now I’m getting used to the level of play,” Harris said. “For me to be a freshman on varsity I need somebody to look up to so I can see what I’m doing when I mess up and she (Jones) is there to help me and guide me when I’m doing something wrong.”
But with a 33-20 lead at half time, there didn’t appear to be too much messing up as the Giants seemed well on their way to victory.
However, solid half time adjustments by Decatur Central led to a 7-0 Hawks run to start the second half and that built some momentum, pulling Decatur Central within six at the end of the third quarter, 47-41.
Decatur Central would start the fourth quarter hot, getting within four of the Giants but that is the closest they would come as Ben Davis answered with a 15-5 run of its own. Urgency set in for Decatur Central as time started running short on the Hawks, resulting in more ill-advised 3-point attempts to try and close the gap.
Hitting only 4 of 16 from beyond the arc didn’t help Decatur Central’s night look any better as the Hawks shot 32 percent form the field, making just 12 of 38 attempts. Much of the poor shooting was a result of the height mismatch in Ben Davis’ favor. The Giants were able to get a hand up disrupting the Hawks’ shooters and at times even blocking shots, both of which led to 29 defensive rebounds for Ben Davis.
“We’re built of defense,” Lentz said. “We made their shots a lot more difficult. Our goal was to guard against the three because they have two or three kids that can really hit it, and stop their penetration which I think we were effectively able to do because we had a lot of blocked shots.”