ZIONSVILLE - The Eagles were 2.3 seconds away from a gut-retching loss in their season opener Tuesday night.
Zionsville had controlled nearly the entire game against Carmel, leading by nine in the final minute of the third quarter, only to see the Greyhounds storm back and hit a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left to take a 35-32 lead.
But Ben Weidner and his Eagle teammates had a different idea.
Weidner drained a fadeaway 3 at the fourth-quarter buzzer, then scored the first four points of overtime as Zionsville topped Carmel 46-41 in the season opener.
"This was huge win for us," Weidner said. "We lost a lot of guys from last year, so there were some question marks about who was going to step up. We have guys playing huge roles and stepping up, and it was really special to get this and gain some confidence after this first game."
It was the Eagles third win over Carmel since 2006 when Eagle head coach Shaun Busick took over.
"The turkey tastes a little better on Thanksgiving after one like this," Busick said. "We have had our fair share of not-so-good tasting turkey the last few years against these guys."
Jackson Hughes' lay-up gave Zionsville a 32-30 lead with 1:27 left, but Carmel tied the game with two free throws 30 seconds later.
After a travel on Zionsville, Carmel got the ball back and appeared to be holding for the last shot and the win, with Wil Leary hitting from deep to give the Greyhounds a three-point lead.
Weidner said the Eagles had faith that they would find a way to force overtime.
"We called the timeout as quick as we could and coach (Shaun) Busick just told us that we were alright," Weidner said. "We kept the confidence up, we have faith that he is going to give us a great play and it ended up working out for us."
The play worked to perfection.
The in-bounds pass went to freshman Logan Imes, who took one dribble and fired a pass to Weidner, who hit the 3 right in front of the Eagles' bench.
"I was a little nervous and was second-guessing myself because I knew it was coming to me," Weidner said. "Logan made a great pass, and that was a big play for a freshman, and then muscle memory took over and it's a shot I have taken many times."
Busick said the pass by Imes was almost as big as the shot by Weidner, and a was proud of the way the freshman play with composure all game.
"You had a kid in ninth grade on the big stage, and I'm not sure he realizes that if that pass isn't perfect, Ben has no chance. Then Ben with his athleticism was able to jump a little higher, lean back and hit it."
The Eagles never gave the Greyhounds a chance in overtime.
Weidner scored the first four points of the extra session, and six total in an 8-1 run that gave the Eagles a 43-36 lead with less than a minute to go.
"When we got that momentum, we wanted to keep it," Weidner said. "We had an amazing crowd here tonight, and we used that momentum to jump start us a little more, and we knew if we kept going they would deflate a little more."
The Eagles defense dominated the game early.
Zionsville led 13-5 at the quarter and 16-11 at the half.
With less than a minute left in the third quarter, Carmel had 15 points.
"We made things really difficult on them," Busick said. "We had some lapses there in the final minutes and didn't get hands up on Leary and some of their shooters, but they are a great time. I suspect by the end of the year they will be really good."
Carmel used a 9-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to tie the game at 24.
The teams then traded 3-pointers over the next four minutes, with the Eagles twice taking the lead on 3s by Imes and Hughes, but not getting the stop they needed on the other end.
"We had some mental lapses there late, and I think that was just a little mental fatigue," Busick said.
Anthony Scales led Zionsville with 15 points, with Weidner adding 12.
Hughes had seven, with Gunnar Vannatta and Imes adding four each.
"Anthony has been through the most battles, and his play was really big tonight," Busick said. "But it goes all the way down. Gunnar had some key baskets, Jackson Hughes made some big baskets and Logan hit a huge 3, and that's a freshman in his first varsity game against Carmel. I just liked the balance we had."
The Eagles are off until next Friday, when they travel to Westfield.
Busick said the Eagles have to use the momentum from Tuesday's win heading into a tough stretch.
"We have a lot of tough games coming up," Busick said. "We go to Westfield and they are going to be really good. We have Culver Academy coming and then to New Albany. Hopefully we are in a lot of these games and we continue to grow as a team."