The Zionsville boys basketball team played its regular season finale Friday, Feb. 26, at Hoosier Crossroads Conference foe McCutcheon and came away with a 66-53 victory.

It was Zionsville’s ninth straight win and it allowed the Eagles to finish second behind Hamilton Southeastern in conference play with a 7-2 league mark.

“We’ve won nine in a row now and the biggest difference this year is that we’re preparing well,” said Zionsville coach Shaun Busick. “Our preparation over the last month and a half has been outstanding and the team that prepares well … plays well. Now our focus is completely on the sectional. We’re right where we were last year with 18 wins and going into a really great sectional.”

Offensively, this team is firing on all cylinders going into the postseason. Four different Eagles scored in double figures on this night led by Jack Isenbarger with 18 points. The Eagles also got to the free throw line early and often, hitting 21-of-26 shots from the charity stripe.

“That is definitely one of our strengths,” Busick said. “We’re shooting the basketball very well, hitting 76 percent from the line, more than 40 percent from three, and 50 percent from two.

“One of our core values is to be unselfish and our kids do a great job of finding each other. Sometimes I think we even overpassed a bit tonight instead of taking it right up.”

McCutcheon made it a game for about a quarter and a half. The host Mavericks led 17-14 after one period thanks to some hot shooting of their own from three-point land. They carried that lead until midway through the second quarter at 21-18 before the bottom fell out.

The Mavericks had a scoreless stretch of over seven minutes that lasted through the end of the second quarter and the early part of the third. In that time, Zionsville used a 13-0 run to take the lead for good over the home team.

“That run was a big difference,” said Busick. “We got four or five stops and managed to get four scores and some free throws. We wanted to pressure (Alontae) Crawford and trap their ball screens. They didn’t handle that pressure well.”

Zionsville led 27-21 at the half and Chris Welker scored the first four points of the second half to make it 31-21 before McCutcheon managed to score again. Vince Hunsicker hit a three-pointer to break the drought, but Chris Roberts answered with a three of his own nine seconds later. The Mavericks never got within 10 the rest of the way.

Zionsville made a living off of McCutcheon’s mistakes all night long. The Eagles defense forced 16 turnovers and there were several plays where Zionsville caught the Mavericks napping on defense for easy baskets. Isenbarger was particularly deadly by consistently driving to the basket through the defense.

Roberts finished with 16 points for the Eagles and had three big three pointers on the night. Demetrius Lawson finished with 15 while Chris Welker had 11. Welker also added a team-high nine rebounds, just barely missing a double-double.

Zionsville kicked off its postseason with a sectional tournament Tuesday night, March 2, against Noblesville in the Carmel Sectional. See a full story in March 10’s issue.

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