Insider: Ben Davis celebrates, but not done yet

Insider: Ben Davis celebrates, but not done yet

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Insider: Ben Davis celebrates, but not done yet

Ben Davis' senior Joshua Brewer (22) slam dunks the ball during the first half of an IHSAA Boys Basketball Regional championship game against Connersville High School, Saturday, at Southport High School.

Ben Davis’ senior Joshua Brewer (22) slam dunks the ball during the first half of an IHSAA Boys Basketball Regional championship game against Connersville High School, Saturday, at Southport High School.

INDIANAPOLIS –p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 17.0px Times; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}span.s2 {text-decoration: underline ; font-kerning: none}After Ben Davis knocked out rival North Central in Saturday afternoon’s regional semifinal, the team celebrated on the middle of the court at Southport Fieldhouse.

Too much celebrating, in the opinion of coach Mark James.

“We got to jumping and screaming and everything,” Ben Davis junior Aaron Henry said. “Once we got on the bus, we talked about finishing it off. We didn’t want to leave here with a loss.”

Ben Davis watched film at James’ house, regrouped and finished off a memorable Saturday with a 44-21 victory in the Class 4A regional championship over Connersville. The Giants (21-5) will play in a semistate for the first time since 1998, facing Castle (24-3) at either Seymour or Richmond on Saturday.

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The Giants pulled the feat with two dramatically different wins. The first came against a Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rival that had defeated Ben Davis twice during the season. The Giants rallied from an 11-point deficit late in the first half, putting away North Central 47-44 behind 16 points from senior Datrion Harper and 15 from junior Aaron Henry.

In the night game, played in front of a huge Connersville crowd in the filled 7,000-plus capacity fieldhouse, the Giants put the clamps on the Spartans. Connersville (27-2), which defeated Brownsburg 55-49 in overtime in the morning game, was just 5-for-29 from the field.

“I thought we played pretty well defensively in the first game and I thought we did tonight, too,” said James, in his sixth season at Ben Davis. “We were trying to deny (Grant Smith) as much as possible and he still touched the ball way too much. He’s a great player. We knew it’d be a dogfight, but we thought if we could get some separation we’d be alright.”

Connersville senior Grant Smith (40), right, and senior Beau Isaacs (52) show their gratitude for their fans as they walk off the court following their loss to Ben Davis.

Connersville senior Grant Smith (40), right, and senior Beau Isaacs (52) show their gratitude for their fans as they walk off the court following their loss to Ben Davis.

Ben Davis took a 27-12 lead into halftime when Henry drained a last-second 30-footer. The outcome was never in doubt from there. Smith, Connersville’s 6-6 senior star, finished with 11 points and was pulled from the game with a little more than a minute left to a standing ovation.

Smith, who scored 21 points in the win over Brownsburg, emerged from the locker room to more cheers from the Connersville students and fans.

“Our town really supported us all the way,” Smith said. “Getting the win this morning was big and even more people came out tonight. I’ll remember my teammates, the crowds, the practice moments we had and of course the wins we had together.”

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Senior Jalen Newsom provided a spark in the night game, hitting four 3-pointers in the first half as the Giants built a 15-point lead. Henry, a 6-5 junior, added 11 points and nine rebounds.

The Giants gained a fan in Smith who said, “I hope they go all the way and win state.” Ben Davis appears to have the pieces in place and just two wins to go.

“It’s been a lot of hard work,” James said. “The coaches have worked hard and the players have worked hard. It’s been an up and down year for us. We’ve had some bumps, but hopefully the kids are happy with what they’ve done. I hope they aren’t satisfied but I want them to enjoy it, too. That’s what I’m going to do.”

Connersville was aiming for its first regional title since 1989. The Spartans rallied from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime, improving to 7-0 in overtime games.

Sophomore point guard Cameron Alford led Brownsburg with 17 points. Senior Landon Hall added 12 points and sophomore Reis Thomas had 10.

“It went the way you thought it would,” said Brownsburg coach Steve Lynch. “We’re a little faster and a little more athletic and they execute a little better. It’d be easy to be a little disappointed but you’ve seen them do it seven different times this year. They find a way to finish games. You have to give coach (Kerry) Brown and their team a ton of credit. They never feel like they are beat. Watching tape, you can see that.”

It was a sobering end of North Central (23-5), which was 13-0 to start the season and ranked No. 1 in the state. UCLA recruit Kris Wilkes (10 points) and senior teammates Mateo Rivera (11 points) and Little (11 points) formed the core of what looked like a state champion contender.

“It’s about as tough as it gets,” North Central coach Doug Mitchell said. “We had the pieces. I’m not complaining about our effort, I thought it was tremendous today. But it’s tough.”

At the end of Saturday night, Ben Davis celebrated again. James didn’t mind this time.

“Final Four?” Henry said. “I can’t believe it.”

Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.

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BEN DAVIS 44, CONNERSVILLE 21

Connersville  10    2  4   5  — 21

Ben Davis      11  16  8  9  — 44

Connersville (27-2) — Silcott 2 0-0 5, Lee 0 0-0 0, Smith 2 6-6 11, Huffman 0 0-0 0, Belt 0 2-2 2, Isaacs 1 0-0 3, Revalee 0 0-0 0. Totals: 5 8-8 21

Ben Davis (21-5) — Harper 2 1-2 5, Brewer 3 0-0 7, Newsom 5 0-0 15, Henry 5 0-0 11, Finch 0 0-0 0, Turner 0 0-0 0, Windham 2 1-1 6. Totals: 17 2-3 44

3-point goals: Connersville 3 (Isaacs, Smith Silcott), Ben Davis 8 (Newsom 5, Brewer, Henry, Windham).




CONNERSVILLE 55, BROWNSBURG 49, OT

Brownsburg         8          10        13        13        5   —  49

Connersville         12        4          13        15       11   — 55

Brownsburg (18-7) – Alford 6 5-6 17, Rozzi 0 0-0 0, Baker 1 0-0 2, Thomas 4 2-3 10, Hall 4 3-4 12, Wolf 0 0-0 0, Jackson 2 0-0 6, Reffeitt 0 0-0 0, Edmonds 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 10-13 49.

Connersville (27-1) – Silcott 3 5-8 12, Sullenbarger 1 0-0 2, Belt 3 0-0 6, Smith 6 9-11 22, Huffman 3 7-10 13, Isaacs 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 21-29 55.

3-point goals: Brownsburg 3 (Jackson 2, Hall), Connersville 2 (Silcott, Smith).

BEN DAVIS 47, NORTH CENTRAL 44

North Central                   16        9          11         8  —  44

Ben Davis                        12        5          17        13  — 47

North Central (23-5) – Rivera 4 1-2 11, D.Johnson 2 0-0 5, Little 3 4-5 11, Bradley 1 0-0 3, Wilkes 4 1-4 10, Pack 0 0-0 0, T.Johnson 0 2-2 2, Lee 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 8-13 44.

Ben Davis (20-5) – Harper 7 0-0 16, Brewer 3 2-2 9, Newsom 1 0-0 3, Henry 7 0-1 15, Finch 0 0-0 0, Turner 2 0-0 4, Windham 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 2-3 47.

3-point goals: North Central 6 (Rivera 2, D.Johnson, Little, Bradley, Wilkes), Ben Davis 5 (Harper 2, Brewer, Newsom, 

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