AVON – Zionsville’s Anthony Scales was a picture of calm on Thursday night as the clock was winding closer and closer to zero.
Scales and the Eagles trailed host Avon 54-53 when Scales got the ball in his hands on the right wing with 10 seconds left.
Scales took his time, dribbled to the lane, shot faked two defenders into the air and scored with his off-hand with one second left as the Eagles won the game 55-54.
“I knew I had to run the clock down so they wouldn’t get an extra shot,” Scales said. “I saw the two guys double team I pumped faked because they had been jumping all game. I started to go up with my right, but saw Jayden Brewer right there and he would have blocked it so I switched it up and it went in.”
It was a gutsy win for the Eagles, who were without two of their top scorers at the end of the game.
Third-leading scorer Jackson Hughes missed the game with an ankle injury, and second-leading scorer Ben Weidner went down midway through the third quarter with a hamstring injury, tried to come back and couldn’t continue.
But other Eagles were there to pick them up and get a key road victory.
“I am very proud of our team,” Scales said. “Jackson was out, and Ben and Kyle (Reasoner) went down during the game. Nick (Richart) plays mostly JV but gave us huge minutes and hit a big jump shot. Isaiah (Davis) gave us 14 and 7 and Gunnar (Vannatta) got some huge rebounds and tips. I am proud of everybody and the way we dug deep.”
After dropping two tough games to HSE and Pike, the Eagles have bounced back with two gritty wins against Brownsburg and Avon to start building momentum as the year winds down.”
“We just found a way to win,” Zionsville head coach Shaun Busick said. “We had a lot of guys step up and I am proud of how we played tonight. We made our share of mistakes, but I was really proud of the boys and their resilience.”
Zionsville took its first lead of the game with 4:24 to go on a jumper by Nick Richart, just the fourth and fifth points of his varsity career.
The Eagles pushed the lead to 51-47 on two Logan Imes’ free throws, but after a basket by Avon and a Zionsville turnover, Avon’s Chrishon McCray hit two free throws with 1:10 left to tie the game.
Scales delivered on the other end to give the Eagles a two-points lead with 47 seconds left, but 20 seconds later Mason Miller hit a 3 to put Avon up 54-53.
The Orioles had only committed three team fouls up until that point, so they could foul three times without the Eagles shooting free throws.
They chose to do it just twice, with the second time almost resulting in a steal.
“We knew they would try and foul us to get us out of rhythm,” Scales said. “But we are pretty calm when it comes to that, because we have been through so many tough, close games this season. It was nothing new to us.”
After the second foul, Imes brought the ball up the court, and then passed the ball into Scales at the wing.
The Eagles cleared out and let Scales go to work, and it paid off. He finished the game 11 of 16 from the field and had a game-high 24 points.
“Anthony is such a great player, and so underrated around the state,” Busick said. “A lot of people don’t know about him, but we do. The last few games, he has played with such great poise and control. It’s made a big difference and calmed the rest of us down. Everybody knows he is the guy, and he wanted the ball.”
Avon jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the first quarter, but the Eagles used a 7-2 spurt to get within one and trailed by three at the quarter break.
Avon led by as many as seven in the second quarter, but baskets by Scales and Logan Imes in the final 45 seconds brought the Eagles to within three at the half.
The Eagles and Orioles traded baskets in the third quarter, with Scales and Isaiah Davis scoring six points each for the visitors.
Down four late in the quarter, both players hit shots in the final minute to tie the score heading into the fourth quarter.
Davis finished with 14 points, a career high.
“We don’t win the game without Isaiah Davis tonight,” Busick said. “He was an all-star tonight, he was fantastic. He has worked really hard in practice, he is becoming more patient on the court and that is going to make him a great, great player.”
Zionsville is now 13-7 and have won six of their last eight.
They face Lebanon Friday and Western Boone Saturday next week.
“This win was big for us,” Scales said. “Sectionals is coming up in a couple of weeks, coming off a win against Brownsburg and we came into this tough road game wanting to go 6-0 to close the season to get some momentum to make a run.”