The road through the playoffs for the Pike High School boys basketball team has required them to pass by Ben Davis for eight of the past 11 seasons.
When Red Devil’s senior Taishun Johnson hit a 3-point bucket with 8 seconds left on the clock during the overtime period Saturday night, they had a 72-70 victory and safe passage in seven of the treks.
“I knew I had to make a big play for my team,” Johnson said. “They believed in me and I had confidence in that shot, and I hit it.”
The 6-foot guard is one of a trio speedy backcourt players that led the way for the Red Devils, who move on to face Martinsville in the Southport High School Regional on March 9 at noon.
“It was just going to come down to who is going to make some plays,” Pike coach Bill Zych said. “We got playmakers out there that can make some plays. Taishun Johnson’s number was called and hit a big shot for us.”
Johnson finished with 25 points. Fellow senior Jordan Pickett led the Pike scorers with 27 and Zavier Turner dropped in 12.
“I went back to the basics and what I work on everyday,” said Pickett, who averages 18.2 points. “I was just staying calm. That is what it comes down to in a big game.”
Ben Davis (16-7) looked to have taken control of the game in the second quarter. The Giants were down 16-10 when they reeled off 12 consecutive points. Pike (22-3) scored just six in the quarter and went into halftime down 27-23
“They did a nice job in their (matchup) zone, ” Zych said. “We didn’t attack it like we should have. When we did, we got too out of sorts and made some turnovers.”
Tony Wills led Ben Davis during its second-quarter dominance with six of his game-high 29 points. Wills got in foul trouble late and collected his fifth with 2:14 left in overtime.
The adjustments Zych made during halftime sparked the Red Devils to gain some momentum but were not able to string together runs and stops to pull away.
“We had spread them out a little bit in the second half,” Zych said. “We made some adjustments by overloading some things … that way our guards could penetrate.