Boys hoops: No. 1 North Central handles Ben Davis in Marion County tournament

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FILE -- North Central's #14 Emmanuel Little from earlier this season. He starred for the Class 4A No. 1 Panthers on Wednesday night.

FILE — North Central’s #14 Emmanuel Little from earlier this season. He starred for the Class 4A No. 1 Panthers on Wednesday night.

As the clock ticked down in the third quarter, Emmanuel Little swatted a Ben Davis shot attempt in the corner. He grabbed the deflection, got the ball to a teammate and sprinted down the floor. He got the ball on the left wing and calmly drained a 3-pointer.

Later, the Panthers used nearly 90 seconds before finding a wide-open Little in the middle of the paint for a dunk.

Then, on one of North Central’s final possessions, one of Little’s teammates found him wide-open again. Again, a flush.

It was that kind of night for Little and the Class 4A No. 1 Panthers, who knocked off Ben Davis 70-59 on Wednesday in the Marion County tournament quarterfinals. They advanced to Friday night’s semifinal against unbeaten Warren Central at 6 p.m. at Southport.

UCLA commit Kris Wilkes finished with just five points, but the Panthers (12-0) showed they are more than just a one-man show.

“Kris being who he is, I expect him to do what he does every game,” Little said. “But if he’s not doing it, I’m always there to back him up. That’s what we do. I’m his brother and we’re a family.”

Mateo Rivera (14 points) and Ty’Riek Johnson (12 points) also stepped up. And Little is more than happy to share the ball.

“I want my teammates to get theirs,” he said. “I don’t want to be selfish or anything. But if I have the hot hand, feed me. If they’re open, shoot.”

“We had a great team effort,” Panthers coach Doug Mitchell said. “Donald Lee is giving us great minutes. D.J. Johnson is giving us great minutes. All these guys are playing their roles.”

While North Central got some breathing room late, Ben Davis threatened the top team in 4A in the first half. After the Panthers got out to a 14-7 lead, the Giants responded with an 8-0 run to take a one-point lead. They led by as many as five late in the second quarter and trailed by just one at half.

But ultimately, the Panthers’ outside shooting took care of the Giants (9-4). North Central finished with 11 3-pointers, including four from Little. The Giants finished with just seven makes from behind the arc. They did have a balanced scoring attack, with three players in double figures. Josh Brewer finished with 17, including 11 in the second half. Datrion Harper and Aaron Henry had 14 each.

It’s not easy to beat any team twice in a week, especially a MIC opponent. But it’s been that kind of year for North Central. In fact, Little probably wishes the Giants were on the Panthers’ schedule more often. In the team’s games against Ben Davis in the past week, he’s scored a combined 52 points.

“It’s pretty tough with them matching our athleticism and length and everything,” Little said. They’re a good team. But we wanted it more than them tonight. That’s why we got the (win).”

Follow IndyStar reporter Matthew VanTryon on Twitter: @MVanTryon.


BEN DAVIS 15 18 9 17 — 59

NORTH CENTRAL 16 18 20 16 — 70

BEN DAVIS (9-4): Datrion Harper 6-14 14 Josh Brewer 6-10 2-2 17 Jalen Windham 1-4 3 TreVaughn Bush 4-5 1-1 9 RJ Turner 1-1 2 Aaron Henry 6-10 1-2 14 Kyle Finch 0-2 Jalen Newsom 0-5 Team totals: 24-42 4-5 59

NORTH CENTRAL (12-0): Mateo Rivera 4-10 3-4 14 Ty’Riek Johnson 4-5 2-2 12 Emmanuel Little 10-13 5-6 29 Donald Lee 3-3 7 Kris Wilkes 2-10 0-2 5 Davon Bradley 0-1 Team totals: 24-46 10-15 70

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