Harrison withstood a comeback by Benton Central to take a 57-41 boys basketball victory Saturday night.
The Raiders (4-3) led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter before Benton Central started to nibble away at the lead. A Garrett Gray putback with 5:51 left in the game cut the Raiders’ lead to 43-39.
After the Bison defense got a stop, Benton Central seemed poised to cut the lead even more but misfired on its next two shots. Harrison’s Bobby Rogers drove to the basket for a layup and was fouled. He completed the three-point play with 4:04 left to stretch the Raiders’ lead to seven.
The five-point swing was too much for Benton Central to overcome as Harrison made 10 free throws to seal the victory.
“I thought Bobby was huge tonight,” Harrison coach Mark Rinehart said. “He had a rough night on Friday, and he played completely under control for the whole game. When the game got tight, we had good quality possessions.”
Rogers said the Benton Central defense seemed to give him the open lane near the top of the key, but he had deferred up to that point.
“I saw it earlier in the game, but I kicked it out to my teammates. But in that situation, I felt like I needed to score,” Rogers said. “It felt pretty good when it went in. (Friday’s loss to McCutcheon) was on my mind all day long, and I just wanted to get off that tonight.”
Jacob Payne led Harrison with 10 points, while Benton Central freshman Austin Dixon came off the bench to top Bison scorers with nine. Benton Central coach Kyle Marlatt said despite the loss, the game was a huge improvement from the Bison’s 34-point loss to West Lafayette on Friday.
“If we just keep playing hard, good things are going to happen to us,” Marlatt said. “This is going to sound crazy, but after we finished talking to them after the game, they were asking can they do more defensive drills and pressure drills at practice. If they could have gotten back out there tonight, they would have to get better for Twin Lakes. That’s a good sign.”
Harrison turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter after falling behind 18-15 on a Dixon jumper with 5:40 left.
The Bison turned the ball over during five of their next seven possessions, which led to a 12-0 Harrison run. Cade Renicker’s 3-pointer at the 1:53 mark gave the Raiders its biggest lead of the half, 27-18.
The turnovers led to Harrison fast-break opportunities, allowing the Raiders to shoot 48 percent from the field in the first half (12 for 25). Ten of Harrison’s first-half points came off turnovers.
Until then, Benton Central led early. Two 3-point shots by Jacob Turner helped the Bison to a 14-11 lead after the first quarter. The first period saw five lead changes as both teams seemed to feel each other out.
Benton Central forward Tyler Souligne, though, picked up three fouls early and was forced to miss the bulk of the first half.
“Our goal is to get the other team in foul trouble as early as possible,” Harrison forward Jacob Bower said. “Souligne is a good inside player for them, and that allowed us to play inside-out and that’s our style. Getting on the offensive glass is the way we need to play to win.”