The first 13 minutes of Terre Haute South’s 71-48 loss to Ben Davis in boys high school basketball Saturday couldn’t have gone much better if South coach Maynard Lewis had scripted it himself.
The Braves had gotten off to a hot start, sinking four of their first five shots from the floor. They had established T.J. Baker as a scoring threat, getting 10 first-half points from the senior guard. Best of all, they had shown that they could take a punch from the Giants, withstanding a 12-2 run and battling back to a two-point deficit.
But then Ben Davis’ Josh Shannon got fouled on a 3-point attempt and drilled all three foul shots, a seemingly innocuous play that ignited the Giants and stunted the Braves. The next eight minutes of clock time were sheer dominance as Ben Davis sped off to a 22-2 run and turned a close game into a rout, burying the Braves on Saturday afternoon at Ben Davis High School.
“As I told my team, we’ve got to put that type of effort and intensity [of the first 13 minutes] into all four quarters,” Lewis said. “We’ve seen a lot of bright spots in that first quarter and a half, but once they got us going fast, we’ve got to pull the ball out and get into our offense versus taking the bait, because they’re going to keep going fast.”
The Giants (1-1) realized that they could control the tempo at the end of the first half, when they forced the Braves (1-1) into a pair of mistakes that led to easy baskets from Jaden Brown and Robert Fry and a nine-point halftime lead.
When the second half began, Ben Davis came out determined to push the tempo and keep South from ever getting itself properly set up, which led the Braves to panic and rush their shots.
South shot just 1 for 12 in the third quarter and didn’t sink a basket in the frame until Brylan Apholone scored inside with 2:11 left in the quarter. By then, the lead was up to 48-27, and any thoughts of picking up a win over a team as talented as Ben Davis were left by the wayside.
“Thankfully, it’s a short week,” Lewis said. “We’ve got another game on Wednesday, and we can take what we learned [Saturday] and go from there.”
One of the main lessons the Braves learned was the difficulty of facing an opponent with the ability to create second and third chances at the basket. Jamari London led the Giants with 19 points and Brown added 10, with the majority of his points coming after one of his Ben Davis teammates missed a shot, leaving the 6-foot-6 Brown to clean up the mess and score the easy layup.
Baker had 15 points and Cordell Hanes added seven to pace the Braves, who did outscore the Giants in the final quarter. That, plus what his team showed during the game’s first 13 minutes, left Lewis feeling hopeful about South’s future.
“We want to compete day in and out, and I think the most important thing for us to learn is to handle adversity and counter speed,” Lewis said. “We’ve got to be physically stronger and work that much harder.”