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Zionsville 3s foil Lafayette Jeff's strategy
January 22, 2014Lafayette Jefferson High School
Despite Zionsville’s tremendous height advantage — led by 7-foot junior Derrik Smits — it was the Eagles’ guards who provided just enough punch for a 44-38 victory over Lafayette Jeff on Friday night at Crawley Center.
Lafayette Jeff (2-7), with only two players 6 feet or taller, showed patience with its zone offense in an attempt to pull off the upset. The Bronchos even outrebounded Zionsville, 26-24.
The Eagles made three 3-point shots in the first 2½ minutes of the third quarter to go from a 17-16 lead at halftime to a 26-17 advantage. Michael Sollman made two of the three long-range bombs.
Jake Mann’s 3-pointer with 29 seconds left, Zionsville fourth trey in the quarter, gave the Eagles a 33-25 lead.
Until then, the Bronchos were satisfied putting a body or two on Smits — son of former Indiana Pacers center Rik Smits — and other Zionsville post players, making sure they worked hard for anything the Eagles got down low. The 3-point barrage proved too much.
“I thought we did good job on their 3-point shooters in the first half,” Jeff coach Scott Radeker said, pointing out that Zionsville did not even attempt a shot beyond the arc in the first half. “That might have been part of their game plan, because they wanted to go into the post, but I thought we did a good bodying Smits and I thought we could be physical with him.”
Zionsville coach Shaun Busick said he was impressed with Jeff’s game plan — and it caused the Eagles problems from the outset, as the teams battled to a 6-6 tie after the first quarter.
“I thought Lafayette Jeff played with more spirit and passion than us,” Busick said. “I thought they played really hard, especially against our big men, which was a little bit surprising. I thought we would be able to get into the middle more easily. Give Jeff all the credit for that.”
While Zionsville never pushed its lead to double digits, the Eagles never lost it in the second half, due to the efforts of Sollman, who topped Zionsville scorers with 12, and Mann, who added nine points.
Jeff’s Trevor Mays, who came off the bench to lead the Bronchos with 12 points, knocked down a 3-pointer with 6:33 left the game to slice Zionsville lead to 33-30. But the Bronchos could not convert on their next two possessions after getting defensive stops, missing out on their best opportunity to overtake their Hoosier Crossroads Conference foe.
Alex Sibila converted a three-point play off a putback and Mann drilled another 3-pointer on two straight Eagle possessions to give Zionsville a nine-point lead.
“I told them after the game that effort is not our issue,” Radeker said. “We play hard and we practice hard. We don’t have the confidence to beat a team like that in the end. They really battled and I’m proud of them.
“I saw a lot of positive things out there tonight, but we have to take the bull by the horn in end-of-game situations. ... I thought at times we were too tentative tonight.”
The Bronchos were able to get the lead down to four points twice down the stretch, but each time the Eagles scored on their possession to keep Jeff at arm’s length. A Devin Haney drive with 1:30 left cut the Eagles’ lead to 42-38, but Jeff missed its next three shots to close out the contest.