For the second-straight year, the Zionsville boys basketball team advanced to the championship game of the Bob Wettig Tournament in Richmond.
But, for the second-straight year they rank into a highly ranked team in the final and had to settle for runner-up. This year, the Eagles lost to No. 2 Bloomington South 59-38 in the final.
“I was really pleased with how we played,” Zionsville head coach Shaun Busick said. “We played four games in two days, against four teams with different styles. It was really challenging not only physically, but mentally too. Our guys effort, focus and overall play was really good.”
In the opening game, the Eagles cruised past Irvington Prep Academy 84-32.
Kyle Reasoner led the team with a a career-high 19, with Ben Weidner adding 16, Gunnar Vannatta 11 and Jackson Hughes 10.
Later in the night, the Eagles faced No. 15 Cathedral and won 75-72.
Anthony Scales had a career-high 28, with Hughes adding 21 and Weidner having 15.
“That was a very good Cathedral team,” Busick said. “We are normally a more controlled offensive team and they like to run a lot, and we used that to our advantage. We got into the paint a lot and were able to capitalize.”
In the semifinals, the Eagles topped host Richmond 40-38, winning on an Logan Imes tip-in at the buzzer.
Scales had 13 points, with Weidner having nine.
“We had to protect the lead late in a low-scoring game,” Busick said. “We really had to fight and claw all the way. It was another game where we had a lead in the fourth quarter and had to battle. We have held on in some, and not in others. We ran a really good clear out play for Jackson Hughes and he couldn’t finish, but Logan Imes followed the play and got the big basket.”
That set-up a match-up with the second-ranked Panthers and IU-recruit Anthony Leal in the final.
Bloomington South jumped out to a seven-point lead after the end of a quarter and continued to pull away throughout the game.
“If they aren’t the best team in the state, they are right there,” Busick said. “They are very talented, gifted and have a ton of skill. They remind me a lot of the Carmel title team, with even more talent. They shoot well, are good defensively and have three Division I players. They were the better team, but I was proud of the way our guys never quit fighting. It gives us a good gauge of where we are. Right now, are we a state caliber team? No, but our goal is to be a sectional-title caliber team and once you win a sectional, anything can happen. We have a lot of work to do, but we are making progress.”
Hughes scored 13 points in the final, and Scales had 10.
Both players were named to the all-tournament team.
“It’s amazing how well Jackson has fit in with our team, it’s been really seamless,” Busick said. “As good of a player as he is, he is a better kid from a great family. He’s been a really excellent addition for us. It can be tough to be the star and leading scorer at one place, then blend in with a new team and have a different role, but he has done it well and been outstanding.”
“We always knew that Anthony was a great player, but he sacrificed some things to blend in with what we needed him too the last few years. He is learning how to be the ‘go-to’ guy that other teams focus on and has done an outstanding job.”
Zionsville is now 6-4 and will be off until Friday when they host Kokomo. They will then face Fort Wayne Snider the next day at Marion.
As they approach the midway point of the season, Busick said there are a few things the Eagles have to work on.
“We have some work to do defensively,” Busick said. “We have to be more active, get out on shooters more and be better at stop penetration. We have to do a better job offensively at taking advantage of what other teams are giving us. We have seen a lot of growth though. Our rotation is starting to round out and the guys are establishing their roles.”