CARMEL – Fishers sophomore forward Armaan Franklin may have come of age on the basketball court Tuesday night against rival Hamilton Southeastern, scoring a career-high 33 points.
But it was a senior from HSE that helped prevent Franklin and the Tigers from springing the upset.
Royals’ 6-7 forward Zach Gunn scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead HSE to a hard-fought 72-66 win over Fishers in the opening round of the Class 4A sectional at Carmel High School.
The Royals (20-5) advance to play Anderson (4-19) in the sectional semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday at Carmel.
“It’s a rivalry game,” HSE coach Brian Satterfield said. “You can throw the records out the window when we play. Their record is better than it shows. I give them a lot of credit. They came out ready to play.”
The Royals owned a 12-point lead in the opening minute of the second half and appeared poised to pull away. But the Tigers answered with an 11-2 run to cut the lead to 44-42 with 3:44 to play in the third quarter. It was a close game the remainder of the way.
Fishers (10-14) took its first lead of the game, 55-53, with 6:52 to play. But later in the quarter, a jumper from Gunn, followed by a layup from the senior on the next possession put the Royals up 61-57 with 4:20 left.
After the Tigers cut the lead to 61-59 on a Franklin layup, HSE scored the next five points and led 66-59 with 1:06 left to put the game away.
“I’m very proud with how they fought back tonight,” said Fishers coach Joe Leonard, whose team trailed by 12 against HSE earlier in the season before falling in double overtime. “It’s a team you can never give up on. But it’s hard to always climb up the hill without slipping. That’s what happened to us. If we’re going to take the next step, we have to make plays when it counts.”
Gunn made plenty of them for HSE. He scored his team’s first seven points and finished the first quarter with nine points. Franklin, meanwhile, kept his team in it early. He scored the Tigers’ first 14 points. A Fishers player besides Franklin didn’t score a point until 5:48 remaining in the first half.
Trailing by 11, Franklin nailed a half-court shot at the buzzer to pull his team to within 39-31 at halftime.
Franklin finished 12-of-17 shooting.
“He was absolutely spectacular,” Leonard said of Franklin. “He’s going to be a big-time player. He kept us hanging around.”
But aside from Franklin, the Tigers struggled from the field, finishing 24-of-53 overall and just 6-of-23 from behind the arc.
Sophomore guard Noah Smith added 20 points for HSE, which shot 54 percent from the field and made just enough free throws (21-of-31) to pull this one out.
“We started well, and they made their run,” Satterfield said. “I thought we had great composure at the end. (Gunn’s) start of the game was crucial. … With the depth of the team, other guys stepped up.”
Jack Davidson added 12 points for HSE.
HAMILTON SOUTHEASTERN 72, FISHERS 66
HSE 16 23 11 22 — 72
Fishers 12 19 19 16 — 66
Hamilton SE (20-5) — Bowman 2 0-0 5, Davidson 3 4-7 12, Birchfield 1 0-0 2, Etherington 0 2-2 2, Rotterman 2 4-4 8, Smith 7 6-11 20, Gunn 8 5-7 23. Totals 23 21-31 72.
Fishers (10-14) — Turner-Hall 4 0-0 8, Jackson 1 0-0 2, Counts 1 1-1 3, Stephens 1 2-3 4, Franklin 12 4-6 33, Szilagyi 1 2-2 5, Washburn 3 3-5 9, Slain 1 0-0 2. Totals 24 12-17 66.
3-Point Goals – HSE 5 (Davidson 2, Gunn 2, Bowman 1). Fishers 6 (Franklin 5, Szilagyi 1).