Zionsville was enjoying its time at the premier icon of Hoosier Hysteria so much that it decided to work a little overtime in its boys’ basketball season opener.
The Eagles faced off against Brebeuf at Hinkle Fieldhouse to open the season Wednesday, Nov. 24, and Jackson Tharp’s three-pointer with 11 seconds left in regulation kept the Eagles alive for another four minutes.
Unfortunately for Zionsville, Brebeuf’s Michael Onvorah was too much in the extra session. Both he and R.J. Thompson scored four points for the Braves as Brebeuf pulled away for a 46-42 win in the second annual Battle in the Barn.
“We showed great heart and energy,” Zionsville coach Shawn Busick said. “I thought our guys just battled back. I got very furious with them and laid into them a little bit (in the third quarter). What I liked is that they responded positively to that. It was an excellent comeback, but two things killed us: Turnovers and missed free throws. You can’t go three-of-nine from the foul line in an overtime game and you can’t have 22 turnovers.”
The normally mild-mannered Busick was quite upset with his team after Brebeuf completed a 14-0 run that started with 4:12 left in the second quarter and ended when Brebeuf took a 28-16 with 6:10 left in the third. After allowing a pair of offensive rebounds on missed free throws that led to four points for the Braves he got on his young squad.
The change of pace worked for Zionsville as the Eagles, who return only two players with varsity experience, answered with a 9-0 run of their own. Andrew Dakich scored the first four points of the run, followed by a Parker Dunshee triple and a Demetrius Lawson drive that forced a Brebeuf timeout.
“We basically are playing two returning varsity players and our starting point guard (Chad Roberts, who was injured during football season) is essentially out with a broken leg,” Busick said. “We have what we have and we trust what we have. We’re going to learn from this and get better.
After trailing 31-26, the Eagles were forced to play catch up for most of the third quarter. They finally caught the Braves when Luke Kennedy connected on a three-pointer with 3:06 left in regulation. Zionsville then took a brief lead at 35-33 when Lawson scored inside, but it lasted only 10 seconds before Mike Lenz answered with a fast-break basket.
Just 39 seconds after tying the game, Lenz hit on a three-pointer in the corner to make it a 38-35 Brebeuf lead with 1:03 left, but Tharp was able to send things to an extra frame by hitting a contested three-pointer from the elbow.
In overtime, Kennedy gave Zionsville a 40-38 lead 41 seconds in, but then Onvorah took over. He started a 7-0 run that put the Braves in front 45-40 with 31 seconds left.
Zionsville wasn’t done, though. Lawson scored on a drive and after a timeout, the Eagles forced a five-second call with 18 seconds left. Kennedy missed a three-pointer to tie things up, and Tharp was unable to convert a layup after stealing Brebeuf’s ensuing outlet pass. Onvorah then hit one of two free throws with five seconds left to seal it.
“At that point it was kind of scramble mode and I feel like we were in scramble mode for most of the game,” Busick said. “Overall I felt it (Kennedy’s three-point attempt) was a pretty good shot. We just missed it. Again, turnovers were my biggest concern, but that is an area we can control.”
Kennedy led the Eagles with nine points, while Scotty Penola fouled out with eight points. Penola was instrumental in keeping the Eagles going with six first-quarter points. Zionsville will regroup before opening Hoosier Crossroads Conference play Friday, Dec. 3, at Westfield.