LAFAYETTE – It all started on defense for the Zionsville boys basketball team on Saturday night.
The Eagles shut out the host McCutcheon Mavericks in the first quarter, then controlled the fourth quarter on both ends of the court en route to a 52-30 win over the Mavericks.
“Our start was huge,” Zionsville head coach Shaun Busick said. “When you hold a good team scoreless in the first quarter and to nine in the first half, that’s where it all starts and ends for us.”
The Eagles led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and built the lead to 28-9 at the half.
The nine points was the fewest the Mavericks have scored in a half all season.
“You have to know who you need to stop,” Busick said. “They have a really talented freshmen, and we did a good job on him. And you have to find Phinisee and keep him out of the paint. He got by a few times and that is bound to happen, but we did a good job on him.”
The Mavericks got within 12 by the end of the third quarter, but the Eagles were extremely efficient in fourth quarter to make sure the Mavericks couldn’t cut into the gap.
The Eagles took 70 seconds off the clock on the opening possession of the quarter, and finished it off with a lay-up by Anthony Scales. Zionsville shot 6-of-8 in the quarter and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line.
“We moved the ball,” Busick said. “When we move the ball and stop playing 1-v-1 basketball, good things happen for us.”
Ben Weidner led the Eagles with 14 points, with Jackson Hughes adding 13 and Scales 11.
Zionsville will play four games in the next two weeks, with three coming against ranked opponents.
“This was our first double-weekend win, and we are pleased with that, but now we have the toughest stretch of the year,” Busick said. “We have four powerhouses in a row, starting with Warren Central on Tuesday and then at HSE, where we have never won in my tenure. We have a tough stretch here, and hopefully the momentum we can take is that we can play with these teams and we can defend, because we are going to be tested.”
Eagles get first conference win
ZIONSVILLE – It was a contrast of styles on display Friday night as Zionsville hosted Noblesville in Hoosier Crossroads Conference play.
On offense, the Eagles were not afraid to attack the basket and get it done either at the rim or at the foul line. The Millers chose to bomb away from three, attempting only five field goals inside the three-point arc.
The Eagles (9-5, 1-2) raced out to a 14-3 lead and never looked back as they earned their first conference win of the season 60-49.
“I thought for 28 minutes we played really, really good basketball,” said Zionsville coach Shaun Busick. “In the last four minutes we had some slips and lost a great shooter and you can’t do that. We had enough of a spread that it didn’t make a difference tonight, but in a close ball game, that can beat you.”
Zionsville got incredible balance all evening as four players finished in double figures.
Early on it was guard Ben Weidner who did most of the work. He scored eight of Zionsville 14 first quarter points as the Eagles gave up only a 3-pointer to Brendan Fisher and a late free throw.
Noblesville (6-8, 0-3) finally found its range in the second quarter, but they struggled to contain Gunnar Vannatta in the post.
The big man had eight second quarter points, including a big dunk on an assist from Anthony Scales that really got the crowd going.
“Gunnar has had that ‘I’m gonna go hard’ attitude for a while now,” said Busick. “He and Isaiah Davis were absolutely unbelievable tonight. It was their combined best game together from the five spot and they used their size well.”
Zionsville led 28-18 at halftime and kept the Millers at bay throughout. Every time the Millers started to make a run the Eagles were able to answer with a big basket.
David Lloyd gave them trouble with 15 points on five three-pointers off the bench, while EJ Smith finished with 20 points and connected from long range six times, four coming in the final three minutes of the game after Zionsville took at 54-35 lead.
“The troubling thing for us was that they were 13 of 26 from three,” said Busick. “We could play these guys again in the tournament and we can’t let them get hot like that at any point in the game. We have to be better on the catch.”
Weidner led Zionsville with 15 points while Vannatta had 14 points and 7 rebounds.
Scales added 12 and Jackson Hughes was also in double figures with 11.