Terre Haute South did the thing it usually does in high school basketball Friday night, even though its coach wasn’t sure it would be able to do that against a towering Rockville team in the second Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic semifinal game at Terre Haute North.

The Braves also did something their coach wasn’t really expecting at all, and the result was a 53-46 win over the previously unbeaten Rox.

South has hung its hat on its ferocious defense all season, and that was very much in evidence Friday. The Braves forced 18 turnovers, got easy baskets off several of them, and generally had the Rox flustered.

“Our pride and joy has been our defense,” said Jake Odum after a game in which he had four of the steals, twice using them to set up two-hand slams for his older brother. “[The defense] allows Zach to get two dunks, and it kept everybody on our team happy.”

“[The Rox] are so big [with three starters and one key reserve between 6-feet-4 and 6-8], I was worried they’d throw over our traps,” coach Mike Saylor said after the game, “and they did a few times. But we were able to take advantage of their shorter players at times.”

Jake Odum also had a game-high eight rebounds, however, and South ruled that statistic as well. That was something the Braves hadn’t counted on.

“I wouldn’t have guessed that [rebound advantage] either,” Saylor admitted. “But Adam Austin did a great job, Christian Barnett, Chris Rose came off the bench, and for a point guard Jake does a great job.”

“I don’t mind us missing shots and I don’t mind us being scared,” coach Dave Mahurin of the Rox said when discussing the rebound stats after the game, “but doggone it, compete. We were playing against athletes tonight, and we didn’t block out.”

Rockville actually jumped out to a 9-2 lead, and was still ahead 12-9 early in the second quarter after two free throws by Indiana State recruit R.J. Mahurin — giving the 6-8 junior nine points at that juncture of the game.

But Jake Odum threw an alley-oop pass to his brother for a dunk, and then John Michael Jarvis stole the ball and passed to Jake Odum for a twisting reverse layup that gave South its first lead.

The lead changed hands three more times in the second quarter, Rockville getting a late 6-0 run on a blocked shot by Matt King, King’s basket at the other end, a basket by Aaron Bridge and then a press-breaking layup by Bridge on a nice pass from Caleb McMullen. That gave the Rox a 22-19 lead.

But South closed out the first half with a possession that included four shots, three offensive rebounds and a game-tying 3-pointer by Jarvis. Jarvis scored on a steal to open the second half, and the Braves led the rest of the way.

Rockville was within 30-29 on a basket by Josh Reed, but the Braves finished the third quarter with a 7-0 run. A free throw by Zach Odum and a 3-pointer by Barnett made it 34-29, and then Jake Odum went down injured when Reed beat him to a pass for a steal.

“It hurt under my knee. I did something to it,” the junior point guard said after the game, “but I’ll be ready for [tonight’s championship game]. I thought at first I’d torn something, but after a few seconds the pain went away.

“I went out to the hallway and stretched it out, and the trainer gave me the OK [to re-enter the game].”

“That’s the head of the snake right there,” Saylor said. “It’s pretty evident that Jake is the engine that’s the head of our train.”

Jake Odum was able to get back on the floor early in the fourth quarter, however, after his replacement — freshman Anthony McGill — fielded an errant Rockville pass to set up the end of South’s 7-0 run. Jarvis closed out the third quarter with another 3-pointer — either just before or just after the buzzer — but he got that chance because Zach Odum had gone inside, missed two shots but corralled both rebounds.

Rockville wasn’t finished. A basket by King and a 3-pointer by R.J. Mahurin got the Rox within 37-34 at the start of the fourth period. But the Braves went on a killer 8-2 run — two offensive rebound baskets, another spinning reverse layup by Jake Odum and one of the steals and dunks by the Odum brothers — that pretty much clinched the decision. Rockville got within five one more time, only to have the Odums combine for their second steal and dunk.

Losing by seven points was no disgrace, coach Mahurin noted. “As poor as we played ... I guess we’re a little over our heads right now in the big city. But that game does a whole lot more good for us than beating somebody by 40.”

It may have done the Rox more good to lose Friday’s game than to find a way to win it, the coach hinted.

“We’ll have [the Rox’] attention a little more now,” he said. “Everybody worshipping the ground you walk on doesn’t do you much good ... we’ve got a lot of improving and a lot of growing up to do.”

R.J. Mahurin actually led all scorers with 21 points and Bridge added 16 for Rockville. Jake Odum had 18 points, a game-high eight rebounds, eight assists and his four steals for South, while Zach Odum scored 17.

“It was a great team effort. Our bench players contributed a lot,” Jake Odum pointed out.

South plays Marshall in another big school/small school matchup for the championship. Rockville plays Owen Valley for third place.

Rockville 46

Player fg 3pt ft r s pf tp

Mahurin 6-12 3-7 6-11 3 1 4 21

Bridge 7-16 0-0 2-2 7 2 4 16

King 2-2 0-0 2-2 3 1 2 6

McMullen 0-4 0-1 0-0 5 0 0 0

Reed 1-2 0-0 1-2 2 1 4 3

Parsons 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 2 0

Taylor 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0

Totals 16-36 3-8 11-17 26* 5 17 46

Terre Haute South 53

Player fg 3pt ft r s pf tp

Z.Odum 6-14 0-1 5-8 6 3 4 17

Barnett 4-8 1-2 0-0 3 2 4 9

Austin 0-0 0-0 0-0 4 1 2 0

J.Odum 7-16 1-2 4-6 8 4 2 18

Jarvis 3-11 2-10 0-0 1 4 2 8

Rose 0-1 0-0 0-1 6 0 1 0

McGill 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0

Totals 20-50 4-15 9-15 36* 15 15 53

Rockville 10 12 7 17 — 46

Terre Haute South 7 15 15 16 — 53

FG Pct. — Rockville .444, THS .400. 3-pt FG Pct. — Rockville .375, THS .267. FT Pct. — Rockville .647, THS .600. (*) Includes team rebounds — Rockville 4, THS 8. Turnovers — Rockville 18, THS 16. Assists — Rockville 10 (McMullen and King 3), THS 13 (J.Odum 8). Blocks — Rockville 4 (Mahurin 3), THS 1 (Austin).

Next — South (6-2) plays Marshall at 8 p.m. today for the championship. Rockville (7-1) meets Owen Valley for third place at 6:15.

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