By Jeff Robison
INDIANAPOLIS — Tournament level intensity isn’t supposed to arrive on the second full weekend of the basketball season. Yet, last Friday night, the fans’ fever pitch and the players’ determination levels were piqued as the Pike Red Devils boys’ basketball team rallied in the final four minutes from a 10-point deficit to defeat host Ben Davis, 64-63.
Pike, which had fallen behind 60-50 with just less than four minutes in the final quarter, claimed the lead when Zavier Turner drove the lane and dished to Kendall Rollins for the winning score with 12.8 seconds left.
The Giants, who were playing just their second game of the year, were unable to close the deal, despite a game-high 26 points from senior Tony Wills.
“We played not to lose instead of to win,” Ben Davis coach Mark James said. “For the second game of the year, we’re happy with what happened, but we’re not pleased with the fact that we got beat. But we got better, and that’s what we asked the kids to do before the game.”
Though the final score had been determined, the Giants lived plenty of drama before losing. Wills lost the ball to Rutherford on a drive, but his attempt for a timeout was overruled for being on the end line.
Ben Davis got three attempts in the final 4.9 second, but nothing fell in.
Credit much of the Giants’ demise to Pike’s intense pressure on defense. The Giants turned the ball over nine times in the final quarter, and gave the ball away 15 times after the break, much to the chagrin of James.
“We hadn’t seen that kind of pressure,” James said. “We made too many turnovers in the fourth quarter, but that’s on the coaching. I didn’t have my team prepared enough to handle the pressure. Against Pike, if you turn it over, you’re in trouble. They’re just too athletic and too good of team (to do that against).”
The tempo was brisk off the opening tip, but Ben Davis turned in a 10-1 run in the second period as the Giants extended to their first 10-point lead at, 32-22.
Wills (4 points and a steal), Michael Beaty (2 points, 2 assists, and a steal), and Jordan King (4 points) paced that surge.
Pike fought back with a 7-0 run as Jordan Pickett’s baseline layup closed the gap back to a trey, 32-29.
But while the tempo favored Ben Davis most of the first half, it doubled in pace down the stretch, and that favored the visiting Red Devils.
In the fourth quarter, Ben Davis got off to a good start and stretched back to equal its biggest lead of 10 points after Wills hit a floater and King tallied off another Beaty assist.
However, Pike tightened up its full court pressure the rest of the way, and the Giants’ lead melted away.
Pickett needed just five seconds to cut that lead in half when he scored a rebound basket and bonus free throw, and followed that by picking the Ben Davis inbound for a score.
The Red Devils sensed the game turning their way, and they were aided when Ben Davis missed its final three free throws, while Turner stepped up to narrow the Giants’ lead to a single point, before his game-winning pass.
Pickett paced the 3-0 Red Devils with 17 points, while Pike got plenty of balance as Turner and Rutherford complemented with 15 points each. Wills’ scoring support came from King (13 points off the bench) and Broome (10 points).
Pike 18 15 12 19 - 64
Ben Davis 19 17 14 13 - 63
Pike (64) — Jordan Pickett 17, Zavier Turner 15, Jamie Rutherford 15, Taishaun Johnson 9, Anthony Patterson 4, Kendall Rollins 4, Jaylen Norwood 0, Cameron Walker 0 Totals: 25-55, ft 11-25, 3-pt 3-16
Ben Davis (63) — Tony Wills 26, Jordan King 13, Kendall Broome 10, Deaire Tate 8, Brennan Gillis 4, Michael Beaty 2, Jeff Wilson 0 Totals: 28-53, ft 5-12, 3-pt 2-4
Turnovers: P 14, BD 21; Fouled Out: None;
Three-point goals: P 3-14(Rutherford 2, Johnson), BD 2-4 (Wills, Broome); Rebounds: P 31 (Rutherford 11, Rollins 6); BD 34(King 8)
Junior Varsity: Ben Davis 42(Stephon Matthews 11, Chris Evans 7 Juwan Carpenter 7), Pike 33(Jeff White 11)