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Top-ranked Pike is loaded with talent and chemistry
January 3, 2013VYPE MAGAZINE - Central Indiana
By DAMANI DICKERSON
For VYPE Magazine (Central Indiana)
After a perfect 8-0 start Pike High School has jumped back into the Class 4A No. 1 spot and is ranked in the top 20 nationally in several polls. Loaded with talent and fueled by a disappointing loss in last year’s state championship game, the Red Devils have retooled, are hungry, focused and taking this season one game at a time.
“We are No. 1 now, so we know we have a big target on our back,” senior guard Zavier Turner said. “We have a chip on our shoulder. … We are playing every game like it is our last.”
Here at the midway point the Red Devils are already playing at a very high level and look to be the team to beat going into next week’s Marion County Tournament. So far, they have knocked off three 4A top 10 schools including No. 2 Ben Davis by one, No. 8 Columbus North by two and No. 9 Warren Central in a thrilling triple-overtime game.
A combination of drive and experience is the recipe to success thus far for the Red Devils according to head coach Bill Zych. He’s pleased with his teams start and even more excited about the team’s future.
“We have got off to a great start, but we expected to be pretty good because we start five seniors,” Zych said. “We have won some close, tough games. The best thing about it is I think we are still not as smooth as we are going to be as we get later into the season.”
The Red Devils are led by their dynamic guard trio. Third-year returning starter Zavier Turner is the floor general; the versatile Taishaun Johnson is having a breakout season; and scoring machine Jordan Pickett has returned to the Red Devils this season with a bang.
Turner runs the show. The Ball State University recruit is averaging 15.4 points and 2.1 steals a game. Uncommitted Taishaun Johnson leads the team in scoring, assist and steals. He is averaging 19.8 points, 4.6 assist, 5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. While Jordan Pickett, who transferred back to Pike for his final year after playing at University last season, is averaging 20.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals a game.
All three have the ability to bring the ball up court, facilitate the offense, make plays on defense, plus all have scoring capabilities. The Red Devil’s up-tempo style combined with its three guard lineup has given opposing backcourts and teams fits.
Zych isn’t complaining.
“Sometimes you don’t have one good Div. I point guard, but we have the opportunity to have three of them. It is quite a luxury you don’t usually have,” he said. “They have been very good together and the more they play together the better off they will be.”
With the return of Pickett, continuity is vital. Although playing a different role in a different system last season where he averaged just over 26 points per game, his maturity and team-first attitude have made the transformation easy.
“Jordan is fitting in well,” Turner said. “We lost a big scorer last year in RJ (Hunter) and Jordan has come in this year and filled that void.”
The Loyola (Chicago) recruit feels right at home.
“The chemistry has always been there because everyone on the team and I have played together at some point in our careers,” Pickett said. “We all wondered how it was going to fit, but so far it has been good.”
So far, so good is right. The Red Devils are explosive offensively ranking fifth in the state in scoring, averaging just over 78 points per game. They’re just as fierce defensively averaging 11.9 steals and 6.5 blocks a game.
The veteran squad understands you play like you practice and don’t intend on taking any days off.
“We have a lot of work to do to get us over the edge that will take us from a good team to a great team,” Pickett said. “We’re trying to make each other better in practice every day, then trying to prove we’re getting better in practice every day on the court when its game time.”