Lafayette Jeff was determined there would be no fourth-quarter comeback for Benton Central on Saturday after two disappointing losses to Central Catholic and Harrison in the J&C Hoops Classic.
So when the Bison closed within 41-35 with 2:05 to play, the Bronchos ramped up their aggressiveness against a 2-3 zone defense and pulled away for a 50-37 victory in the seventh-place game at Dennis Blind Gymnasium.
“I just wanted to work to get the victory today, coming off those two depressing losses,” said Lafayette Jeff senior forward Devin Haney, who scored eight of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter. “We knew they were going to be in the zone, and I’m our big right now. I dominated in the high post area and got to the free throw line and made my free throws.”
The Bronchos (2-2) were 10 of 12 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, including 7 of 8 in the final 72 seconds to put the game away.
“We came up big today in the fourth,” Haney said. “We didn’t let them go on streaks like we did in the previous games. We built our own streak this time. That’s what we’ve got to keep doing. If we play like we did tonight, we can get some wins.”
Lafayette Jeff’s speed and aggressiveness on offense and defense set the tone in the first quarter. The Bronchos forced 10 turnovers and jumped out to a 15-6 lead behind six points apiece from Haney and freshman guard David Hanyard.
The Bronchos were unable to extend the lead by halftime (25-16) because of numerous missed layups.
“We came out and got after it defensively,” Lafayette Jeff coach Scott Radeker said. “We still missed a lot of easy little putbacks inside, which we’ve got to keep working on. The last two games we’ve missed tons of putbacks. We’re getting to the rim, but we’re not finishing. Our energy was good early and that’s what set the tone for the game.”
Benton Central forward Jack Marquie consistently attacked the basket with his minimum 3-inch height advantage against Broncho defenders and finished with a team-high 14 points. Senior center Tyler Souligne was held scoreless for more than 26 minutes before finishing with seven points to go with a game-high nine rebounds.
Lafayette Jeff outrebounded the Bison 43-36, with Haney pulling down eight and senior guard Trevor Mays grabbing seven.
“We did a great job blocking out tonight,” Radeker said. “The whole season we’ve done a pretty good job on the boards. Our guys are taking some pride in that.”
Hanyard added 11 points for Lafayette Jeff.