By Matt Anderson
— After 31 minutes and 55 seconds of play, all Ben Davis could do was watch as No. 16-ranked Warren Central knocked off the No. 8-rated Giants in the second round of the Marion County Tournament, 43-42.
With just more than five seconds remaining, Kendall Broome connected on a layup that put the Giants within one. Yet with the Giants out of timeouts, Warren Central used the running clock to its advantage and didn’t even have to inbound the ball as time expired.
“I told our guys in the timeout, ‘19 seconds — make them use some clock, don’t give up a three — if they hit a two, just let the ball roll and don’t even take it out,’” Warren Central coach Greg Graham said.
While the Giants found a way to score in the final seconds, they were without leading scorer Tony Wills on the floor. He recorded his fourth foul with 4:26 to play, so Ben Davis coach Mark James sat him for a bit and used the common strategy of subbing him in for offensive plays and subbing him out on defensive plays.
However, the plan backfired when the Giants needed to foul after a 3-pointer from Jordan King that cut the lead to two with 20 seconds left. As the Warriors tried to inbound the ball, the Giants fouled, and since no time expired, Wills was left kneeling in front of the scorer’s table for the remainder of the game.
“The clock just ran out on us,” James said. “Had it gone to overtime, I think we would’ve won. I thought our kids showed a lot of character. We could have folded — I think we were down nine or 10 points — and I like the fact that we came back and made a game out of it.”
After one quarter, it was a 5-4 contest. The teams shot a combined 3 of 21 from the field and Broome had all five points for the Giants, which he scored in the first two minutes of the game.
Through three quarters, the Giants totaled 16 points. Luckily for Ben Davis, Warren Central wasn’t much better but pulled away a bit in the third, heading into the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead.
Ben Davis scored 26 points in the final quarter. Broome added two additional three-pointers for a team high 14; Brennan Gillis tallied 13 points and nine rebounds.
“Both teams were getting good shots the first couple of quarters, the ball just wouldn’t go in,” James said. “I think we started playing better defensively, started playing more aggressive, boxed out a little bit better.”
On Dec. 14, Warren Central (7-4) lost to Ben Davis 51-50, which started a four-game losing streak. It was clearly a different Warren Central team that showed up this time as its defense pressured Ben Davis tightly the entire game.
“That started our downward spiral a little bit,” Graham said. “We had some kinks in the armor, we had to adjust our lineup and we had to get a new attitude, so to speak. We had to find our identity.”
Ben Davis (8-3), who was ranked as high as second in state earlier in the month, suffered their second straight road loss. The Giants beat North Central 55-50 in the first round of the Marion County Tournament.
They next play Center Grove at home on Jan. 18.