By Justin Whitaker
BROWNSBURG — BROWNSBURG — Brownsburg coach Ronald Nored and his Bulldogs sure know how to make a good first impression.
After starting the season with three road games, Brownsburg hosted Zionsville and beat its Hoosier Crossroads Conference opponent 50-46 in overtime.
“They just really wanted to come out here and show our fans and show everybody in Brownsburg what we want to be about and that’s being together defensively,” Nored said. “(Zionsville) has some awesome offensive guys and they made shot after shot but we were able to get stops when it counted.”
The Bulldogs (2-2) were led by junior Trevor Lucas who scored 22 points. The Eagles’ (3-1) leading scorer was senior Dalton Judd with 17.
Zionsville had 16 turnovers, including 11 in the first half. They also shot 33 percent from the field and struggled to get into an offensive rhythm.
“We had our worst performance in my seven years as head coach,” Zionsville coach Shaun Busick said. “And I don’t want to discredit Brownsburg because I thought they played a very spirited game and their backs were against the wall with some starters out. I think we took them for granted to be honest. When we saw some of their key players were out, I think our guys thought it was going to be easy street and obviously it wasn’t. Those kids were more prepared to play than us, credit their coach. We got outcoached tonight, we got outplayed tonight and we got out executed tonight. The better team won tonight.”
Brownsburg’s defense limited inside shots for Zionsville as the Eagles fired 22 3-pointers and only connected on six. The double teams and pressure also prevented Zionsville from getting going offensively.
“There was nothing special that we did,” Nored said. “We told the guys that we are going to prepare and worry about us and we are going to play our defense and that’s what we did tonight and it showed well.”
Zionsville led 9-8 after the first quarter but the two teams were tied at the end of the next three periods: halftime (20-20), third quarter (34-34) and the fourth quarter (43-43).
The Eagles led 37-36 with 4:13 remaining in the fourth after a Judd layup but the Bulldogs responded with seven unanswered points. Gerald Harney made a runner, Lucas rebounded his own miss for a layup and Kyle Thompson hit a 3-pointer from the left arc to lead 43-37 with 2:21 left.
Zionsville junior Michael Sollman hit back-to-back treys to tie the score at just over a minute remaining.
The Eagles then had an opportunity to win the game when they inbounded the ball with 4.2 seconds remaining. Judd missed a corner 3-pointer and Scott Penola was unable to convert the putback.
“I don’t know if we ever had a chance to win,” Busick said. “I never felt comfortable to be honest. I just didn’t feel right for some reason.”
Harney scored two of his 12 points nearly halfway through overtime to provide Brownsburg with a 45-43 lead. Thompson then found a cutting Lucas for a layup to put the Bulldogs up four with 42 seconds remaining.
Judd was then fouled on an offensive rebound putback and converted the three-point play to cut the lead to 47-46.
Lucas was fouled with 13.4 seconds remaining and sent to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. The 5-11 guard made both clutch free throws to extend the lead to three.
Zionsville’s Andrew Dakich came down the court and missed a 3-pointer from the top of the arc where he thought he was fouled.
Brownsburg junior Tyler Houston converted an additional pair of clutch free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining to clinch the game.
Lucas and Houston came up with important free throws in the waning seconds of overtime.
“Those guys played a whole lot of minutes, they didn’t come out very much and they were tough enough to sustain that and step up when they needed to,” Nored said.
Lucas served as a catalyst for the Bulldogs. The junior scored 10 points in the first half, eight in the second half and four in overtime. Lucas hit two 3-pointers and attacked the basket as well.
“He does that every single day in practice so it was nice for him to come out and do that in a game,” Nored said.
The Bulldogs now sit 2-2 after giving the Eagles their first loss of the season. Nored said his Brownsburg team played the most together they have all season and it showed in the home opening victory.
“They have a really good chance to come together and do some really good things,” he said. “I’m not saying that we are going to win every game, but we are going to have a lot of fun together playing basketball the right way and I’m looking forward to seeing that continue on.”