Mr. Basketball front-runner and Michigan State commit Gary Harris had a lot of help Dec. 16 against Zionsville.
While Harris poured in 21 points, Michigan commit and junior Zak Irvin drained three after three on his way to 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The No. 1 ranked Royals won the game handily over the Eagles (5-0) 74-59.
Eagles coach Shaun Busick said the Royals spoiled their plan by hitting nine three- pointers.
“They’re really good offensively,” Busick said. “They hit 9-19 from threes. That was sort of our game plan. We wanted to make them beat us from the outside.”
The first quarter started furiously with junior Will Dixon matching the two Royals’ stars three-point shot for three-point shot. The Eagles were even ahead 14-13 with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter when Dixon was fouled shooting a three-pointer.
Dixonled the Eagles with 18 points.
But the Royals turned up the pressure in the second quarter, allowing the Eagles only four points and ending the half with the Royals up 32-20.
“They’re as good of a defensive team as I’ve come across,” Busick said. “Gary Harris, Zach Irvin, and (Jacobby) Bledsoe up front and the other two kids are really good defenders as well.”
Dixonsaid that despite the preparation for the battle, the Eagles did not come through.
“We knew they were one of the best defensive teams in the state, if not the best,” he said. “We knew they were going to press us hard. That’s what we worked on in practice. But we still didn’t handle it as well as we should have.”
Dixonsaid the team did not execute well coming out of half-time.
“What we tried to do was come out strong,” he said. “But we didn’t handle their pressure and turned the ball over and they scored seven or eight straight points to start the second half.”
The Royals came out shooting well again in the second half, pushing the lead to 55-29 by the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter and with 7:17 remaining, the Eagles made one last push and went on an 11-0 run to close the gap to 57-40.
The Eagles wouldn’t get much closer.
Regardless, Busick said he was proud of his team.
“The one thing I’m happiest about is that we played hard the whole way through,” Busick said. “We never stopped playing. The game would’ve been 40 points if we’d have quit. Our guys continued to battle and wanted to win the fourth quarter and we did. It’ s not a victory, but it’s something to build on. Our guys are not hanging their heads. We’re going to get better from this.”
Busick said the game came just a bit too early for the Eagles.
“They’re just physically very intimidating,” he said. “We’re going to have to clean it up and be a lot better and cleaner with the ball. It’s just a bad time to play them for us because its only our sixth game. We just weren’t ready yet for that level. Hopefully, by March, we’ll be ready for that level.”