DOVER — A second road game in as many nights didn’t slow down the Class 4A No. 8 Zionsville Eagles on Saturday night.
The Eagles pulled away from the host Western Boone Stars in the second half, topping their Boone County foes 77-50 at Stephen A. Wall Gymnasium. It was the Eagles 12th-straight win in the series.
“Our focus and work ethic in practice has been outstanding,” Zionsville head coach Shaun Busick said. “We have been really pleased with our kids. Every drill we are doing in practice we are taking seriously and going hard and that is translating into the games. The way Isaiah (Thompson) started, it was typical Isaiah stuff. He never ceases to amaze me.”
Thompson scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the first half as the Eagles built a 14-point halftime lead.
He hit five 3-pointers in the first half, four of them coming in the first quarter.
“We need him to score, but we have other scorers too,” Busick said. “Our big kids looked good inside tonight and have done good things, so if people start really focusing on him, we are going to have some really big games from other kids. Isaiah is our leading assist man too, so he knows what to with the ball. But quite honestly, he is a lot better basketball player than he was when he started as a freshman.”
Thompson is averaging 25.3 points a game through the Eagles first three games.
He is now just two points away from becoming just the eighth player in school history to join the 1,000-point club. It is just the third time in his career that he scored 20 or more points in three-straight games.
“I think he has improved the quickness of his shot,” Busick said. “I think he has quicker feet and a quicker release on his shot. He is working extremely hard in the weight room, and for a guy his size, he is extremely strong. He is really, really working hard on the court, in the weight room and in the classroom too. He is doing a great job of being an overall student athlete.”
It was the second-straight game that a talented guard hurt the Stars.
On Friday night, Tri-West’s Tyler Watson scored 35 in the WeBo loss. Saturday, it was Thompson that hurt the Stars.
Western Boone head coach Bronson Lickliter said the Stars can grow from the lessons they learned this weekend.
“We were faced against a really good offensive player and we are trying to figure out how to go against those guys a little better,” Lickliter said. “Maybe we start off in our regular man-to-man with good ball pressure, but we might have to go into denying them the ball. These are growing experiences. We also had to go against a really good 2-3 zone that they been playing for a while with a lot of length. It is tough, but I thought our guys did a pretty good job of finding the gaps in there.”
Western Boone trailed by 15 with 6:36 left in the third quarter when Zionsville put the game away for good.
A Thompson three-point play ignited an 11-3 run that pushed the lead to 23. It eventually grew to 27 by the end of the quarter.
“They extended their zone a little more and didn’t give up the 3s as readily in the first half,” Lickliter said. “We got some uncontested looks in the first half, and in the second half, they were contested. We shot a lower percentage, and they got runouts and we lost some guys in transition.”
Along with Thompson’s 27, Nathan Childress had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Eagles.
Riley Bertram and Anthony Scales each added eight in the win. Will Alcock added eight rebounds, while Hogan Orbaugh had seven.
Busick said he was happy to see the production from his front line.
“It has been crucial and is going to make a difference when we get into the meat of the conference schedule,” Busick said. “It will be really helpful because they have gotten a lot of experience. I like our front-court depth. We have some good size and some good skills in there.”
One day earlier, the Eagles topped Westfield 63-38 to start conference play off 1-0.
Zionsville led by 10 after a quarter, then out-scored the host Shamrocks 16-2 in the second quarter to grab a firm hold on the game.
Thompson had 23 points, with Childress adding 13. Alcock had seven and Bertram had six.
Childress added seven rebounds and Scales had six.
"I was really pleased with the win, especially the way we did it," Busick said. "We showed a lot of toughness and grit. Those are things that we are really looking for. We want to continuous improvement, and have really stressed that in practice. This weekend, I thought we got better in both games. The kids did a good job on focusing on the little things."
The Eagles are off until Saturday when they travel north to face Fort Wayne South.
Busick said that it will be good to have a lot of prep time.
“It helps that we have a week to prepare,” Busick said. “We are going to give them Monday off because the kids deserve it, and we are just going to use it to refocus. We will come back Tuesday ready to go for four good days of practice to get ready for a really good Fort Wayne South team. They are just as big as we are, but probably more athletic. We are looking forward to getting on the road and seeing what we can do up there.”
Busick said he likes facing teams from different regions of the state.
“Not only do you get a different style of play, but you get a different style of officiating,” Busick said. “The officiating is a little different all over the state. So if we do advance in the tournament, and get an official from Fort Wayne, we will understand what to expect. Fort Wayne South is a great venue and it will be great for our kids to play in.”
Follow Zionsville Times Sentinel Sports Editor Will Willems on Twitter @Will_Willems.