By Jeff Robison
INDIANAPOLIS — Tournament time in basketball is all about dramatic shots at the end of games.
On Saturday night, the Ben Davis Giants had their 2012-13 season end with some of that drama.
Pike senior Taishaun Johnson made an open 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining to lift his fifth-ranked team to a 72-70 win in overtime against Ben Davis in the Class 4A Sectional 11 championship game at Decatur Central.
Johnson’s shot came early enough that Ben Davis got a chance to answer, but Michael Beaty’s drive to the Ben Davis basket missed the rim and left just one second for Pike to whittle off the clock for its sectional title.
Johnson’s winning shot drew a joyful oncourt celebration for the red-clad Pike team and fans, while extending plenty of silence inside the Ben Davis locker room.
Ben Davis coach Mark James quietly accepted the loss amongst his assistant coaches.
“It was a hard fought ballgame, and it came down to one possession,” James said. “(Pike) made the shot when they needed to. It was not so much that we got beat, the clock just ran out on us.”
That the game came down to a single big shot was of little surprise. The biggest leads of the night came in the first and second quarters when Pike jumped out early 16-8 and the Giants used a 12-0 run on the way to taking a 27-20 edge.
And the second half was even tighter with neither side gaining more than a four-point lead the rest of the night.
“We knew what they were going to do,” James said. “We had plenty of chances to build leads, and so did they, but neither team could do it.”
Even in overtime, leads proved to be of little consequence.
Ben Davis went ahead 66-65 with 1:29 left as Jordan King put back a missed shot. Then Johnson answered by hitting a three and free throw for a four-point swing in Pike’s favor.
But King and Brennan Gillis hit shots on the Giants’ next two possessions to give Ben Davis the lead at 70-69.
Johnson then delivered one last time for the win.
Though disappointed in the end result, James said he appreciated the resilience his team showed, especially after losing top scorer Tony Wills to fouls during the overtime.
“Tony played well, but we had some other kids step up and play well,” James said. “We came back after (Tony) fouled out.”
Jordan King stepped up strongly in Wills’ absence with six of his 13 points coming in the extra play.
Wills carried a lot of the load in regulation, especially in the fourth quarter when he registered 12 of his game-high 29 points. His numbers were offset by Pike’s Pickett, who generated 16 of his 27 points after half-time.
But the Giants couldn’t match the difference made by Johnson, who racked up 14 of his 25 points in the final quarter and overtime.
“They just got too many lay-ups against us tonight,” James said. “That was probably the biggest difference in the game.”
The game ended the high school careers for BD starters Wills, Beaty, Deaire Tate, and Kendal Broome, along with reserves King and Marquise Howard.
“These are really good kids who really worked hard for us,” James said. “Graduation will not be an ending for them — it will only be a beginning.”
Ben Davis closed out the year at 16-7. Meanwhile, Pike will move forward to regional competition next Saturday at Southport. The Red Devils will play Martinsville, winner of Sectional 12.
Ben Davis (70)-Tony Wills 29, Jordan King 13, DeShon Tate 10, Brennan Gillis 8, Michael Beaty 6, Deaire Tate 4, Kendall Broome 0, Chris Evans 0
Pike (72)-Jordan Pickett 27, Taishaun Johnson 25, Zavier Turner 12, Kendall Rollins 7, Anthony Patterson 1, Zach Long 0, Cameron Walker 0, Jaylen Norwood 0, Justin Thomas 0