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Lafayette Jeff's upset bid comes up just short against HSE
March 8, 2013Lafayette Jefferson High School
Lucas Wallace isn’t someone who makes predictions, but Lafayette Jeff’s senior guard said the Bronchos are ready to open some eyes in next week’s Class 4A Lafayette Sectional.
Wallace’s confidence is based on Friday night’s regular-season finale against sixth-ranked and Hoosier Crossroads Conference champion Hamilton Southeastern. The Royals had to rally during the final 5:37 to escape with an entertaining 60-53 victory at Crawley Center, where Sectional 7 will be staged.
HSE (17-3, 9-0 HCC) needed a 20-point second half from senior forward and Michigan recruit Zak Irvin to finally shed the challenge from Jeff (7-14, 3-6).
“In practice this week, we said we have to cut down on our turnovers,” said Wallace, who scored a team-leading 16 points. “In the past five or six games, we averaged about 20 turnovers and lost some games we should have won. Tonight, we competed well against a Top 5 team in the state that has a Division I athlete that is going to Michigan, which is one of the top five college teams in the nation.
“This is a good feeling going into the sectional. We competed all the way with that team and lost by seven. A lot of eyes are going to be opened. When people see this score on Saturday, they’ll think it might be a misprint, but it’s not. I felt like we really got an emotional boost. We lost, but we busted our butts. They came in having no respect for us, thinking we wouldn’t be within 20 points of them. We showed everyone that we are ready to play in this tournament. We are here to play.”
Jeff outrebounded the Royals 29-20 and led 42-40 with 5:37 remaining on a driving layup by freshman guard Darian Collins. But Irvin, a strong Mr. Basketball candidate, scored 13 fourth-quarter points to save the day. Junior guard Eric Davidson added 18 for HSE, which was 22 of 38 from the field (57.9 percent).
“We are getting better,” Jeff coach Scott Radeker said. “We responded. I told the kids that even when they hit a few shots to get the lead, we came back and took the lead. We didn’t fold. We got down seven a couple of times in the first half but executed on offense and handled the ball well against the press. We’re doing a much better job.”
Jeff’s 2-3 zone defense kept Irvin without a point during the first 16 minutes.
“We had planned to play it coming in,” Radeker said. “We did a decent job in man-to-man, but our 2-3 zone was working, and they got a little stagnant ... standing around a little bit, which was good for us. Davidson hit some big shots for them, but we didn’t want to get impatient in the zone as long as we were hanging around and staying in the game.
“We wanted to try to control the pace with that zone. For the most part, we did. But Zak Irvin stepped up like a Division I athlete should. Those are the kind of shots we saw him hit on tape. I told our players that we were going to make him shoot contested jumpers. He doesn’t post up a lot. Everything is pullup jumpers. He stepped up and hit some huge shots. There’s nothing we could do about most of those.”