With Park Tudor’s Trevon Bluiett struggling from the field Friday night, the spotlight was up for grabs.
Enter in Brebeuf Jesuit senior point guard P.J. Thompson.
Thompson scored a game-high 28 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, as the Braves pulled away for a 73-67 win against Class 2A No. 1-ranked Park Tudor (13-3).
Bluiett, an IndyStar Mr. Basketball candidate, meanwhile, was held to 18 points on 6-24 shooting.
“He’s been so effective shooting the ball this year,” Brebeuf coach Noah Haynes said of Thompson. “He’s our go-to guy, and he made some great decisions off ball screens. His jump shot is indefensible. He made some good shots for us.”
The Class 3A No. 8-ranked Braves trailed by 3 points entering the fourth quarter but used a 26-17 edge to capture the nonconference win at Park Tudor.
Trailing 57-53 with 4 minutes remaining, Thompson cut the Panthers’ lead to one on a 3-pointer. Park Tudor junior forward Dwayne Gibson followed with a 3-point play to push the lead to 4, but Thompson scored back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 60 with 2:20 to play. On Brebeuf’s next possession, junior forward Aaron Banks gave the Braves the lead for good on a layup and free throw.
Park Tudor had a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer inside 30 seconds to play but committed a back-court violation. Brebeuf sealed the game by shooting 7-7 from the foul line in the fourth.
“I tried to be a leader all game,” Thompson said. “We needed a couple big buckets at the end of the game and a lot of guys stepped up. Playing against the best player in the state (Bluiett) and a team as good as they are, we definitely needed a whole team effort.”
Bluiett, a 6-foot-6 Xavier recruit who came into the game averaging about 38 points. During a stretch in the second quarter, he missed seven straight shots.
“We wanted him to go where he didn’t want to,” Haynes said. “I don’t think he’ll shoot that poorly in his gym the rest of the season.”
Three others Panthers scored in double figures to pick up some of the slack, but Park Tudor coach Kyle Cox said his team let down late after leading by 10 midway through the third quarter. The Panthers shot just 9-30 from the field in the second half.
“Our ‘D’ was terrible again,” he said. “We were up 10 and we kind of relaxed and stopped guarding.”
“I felt if he (Bluiett) was off, we needed someone to step up. We had guys step up at times, but when we went up 10, we needed to grind it out.”
Banks added 19 for the Braves, including nine in the fourth quarter, while senior forward Adam Kroot scored 13 points and shot 4-4 from the line in the final 12 seconds
Park Tudor led 19-15 after the first quarter and 37-32 at halftime. The Panthers took their biggest lead of the game, 46-36, with 4:35 to play, but Brebeuf used a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 46-45 late in the third. The game was close the rest of the way.
“This is a huge momentum builder for us,” Thompson said. “We had a good week in practice. We thought if (Bluiett) gets 40, ‘Oh well,’ let him play his game. We needed to stop the rest of the players.”
Bluiett (2,161 points) moved up two spots to No. 17 in career scoring in Indiana, passing Charlie McKenzie of Claypool/Warsaw (2,145) and former Mr. Basketball Chris Thomas of Pike (2,156).