A quick turnaround may have been the best thing possible for the Zionsville High School boys basketball team.
Less than 24 hours after taking it on the chin against Tech, the Eagles responded with a 58-56 win over Class 3A seventh-ranked Brebeuf Jesuit. Senior Alex Sibila provided the winning points on two free throws with 30.3 seconds remaining.
“We wanted to go out there and get it,” said the 6-4 Sibila, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half. “We didn’t want to relax after two losses in a row.”
Zionsville (13-5) had to withstand a final possession from Brebeuf that ended with good look on a 3-pointer from senior Adam Kroot, who was 3-for-4 from the arc to that point. But Kroot’s shot from the right wing just missed off the back of the rim.
Zionsville was playing a box-and-one on Brebeuf senior guard P.J. Thompson, who led all scorers with 29 points.
“We ended up still getting a really good shot from a really good shooter,” Thompson said. “We’re not mad about that at all.”
Brebeuf (13-4) saw its six-game winning streak snapped, but it played a much more cohesive game than it did in its most recent loss, 76-60 at Guerin Catholic on Jan. 24. When the sectional draw is unveiled today, the Braves will be interested to see where Guerin is aligned in Sectional 26.
“We’ve honestly been getting a lot better,” Thompson said. “We talked about (six) games ago about losing the right way, if we lose. We felt like tonight we lost the right way, if that makes sense.”
With 7-foot junior Derrik Smits in the middle, Zionsville had a distinct height advantage. Smits scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half, mostly on shots around the basket. He was 7-for-8 from the field and had a team-high six rebounds.
Sibila found his way into the interior of the Brebeuf 2-3 zone in the second half.
“Our goal was to get the ball to the middle of their zone,” Zionsville coach Shaun Busick said. “I thought we did a really good job at times. The only concerning things were the 14 turnovers — empty possessions kill a team like us — and giving up too good of a look to Kroot at the end of the game.”
The game was closely contested throughout. Zionsville led by as many as seven in the first half, but Brebeuf rallied to tie it 41-41 going into the fourth quarter. The Braves trailed 49-44 before scoring six in a row to lead with 4:15 left.
Sibila scored with 1:10 left to put Zionsville ahead 56-54. Andrew Schmid answered 30 seconds later to tie it, but Brebeuf fouled Sibila to send him to the line for a one-and-one.
“I practice free throws every day after practice,” Sibila said. “I just was thinking I was going to step up and hit them.”
After a 16-point loss to Tech on Friday — a game that was never in doubt — Busick said the Eagles needed a win.
“We talked about shooting with confidence,” Busick said. “We were so tentative against Tech in the first half. I told the guys today, ‘I’m not going to say anything about shot selection. I trust you.’ I’d give us an ‘A’ for shot selection tonight. We were in attack mode.”
Brebeuf Jesuit……15 12 14 15- 56
Zionsville…19 9 13 17- 58
Brebeuf Jesuit (13-4) – Adam Kroot 5 0-0 13, P.J. Thompson 11 6-6 29, Andrew Terrell 2 0-1 4, Aaron Banks 2 0-0 4, Tanner Webster 1 0-0 2, Andrew Schmid 1 2-4 4, Jake Heldt 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 8-11 56.
Zionsville (13-5) – Braden Hall 3 0-0 8, Michael Sollman 2 3-3 8, Jake Mann 3 0-0 9, Alex Sibila 4 6-6 14, Derrik Smits 7 0-0 14, Jack Pilcher 2 0-0 5, Guerin Wagner 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 9-9 58.
3-point goals: Brebeuf Jesuit 4 (Kroot 3, Thompson), Zionsville 7 (Mann 3, Hall 2, Pilcher, Sollman)