Southsider Voice correspondent
No. 2-ranked Southport finally snapped a string of 16 losses to Marion County foe Ben Davis on Saturday.
The Cardinals lived up to their lofty ranking by edging the Giants 55-52 in a duel reminiscent of the 1960s and ‘70s at Southport Fieldhouse, winning on a senior Malik Bennett’s last-second 3-point shot.
It was Southport’s first home victory over Ben Davis since winning 65-64 Jan. 16, 1981, in the semifinals of the county tournament. The Cardinals have not beaten Ben Davis on its home court since prevailing 63-57 on Feb. 14, 1987, according to sports historian Jim Pich of Beech Grove.
Bennett led Southport with 23 points. Sophomore guard Paul Scruggs added a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Junior center Joey Brunk scored 10.
Southport clawed its way from a 20-8 deficit in the first quarter with a 7-1 run to close the period. Coached by former Franklin Central mentor Mark James, Ben Davis tied the game at 52 with 24 seconds left to put the game in Southport’s hands.
The No. 11 Giants opened their season Friday at home by dumping No. 12 Pike 72-64.
Southport, which lost a heartbreaking overtime game in a sectional final last year, is the only team from the Southside that is ranked among the top 44 squads in the state by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.
Held to only seven points by Roncalli in a season opener, Perry Meridian’s 6-7 sharpshooter Dylan Windler warmed up against Greenwood and Greenfield with 17 and 33 points, respectively, over the weekend.
Coached by Brent Keck, the Falcons are steadily finding their offense after being held to only 24 points by Roncalli. Perry Meridian defeated Greenwood 41-34 and Greenfield 63-49 last week.
The Falcons used a zone defense against visiting Greenwood. Perry Meridian led only 36-34 with 58 seconds left but closed with a 5-0 run at the free-throw line. Led by Windler, the Falcons won the board battle 29-20.
Roncalli lost 54-36 at No. 13 Park Tudor. Hitting only 1-of-6 from 3-point range, Roncalli’s Jimmy King still led the Rebels with 17 points. The Rebels hit only 2-of-21 3-point shots. Colin Sonderman had eight rebounds for Roncalli. The Panthers committed only four turnovers.
In a historic first-time meeting Dec. 1, Greenwood defeated Greenwood Christian Academy 63-55. The Woodmen jumped to a 20-6 first-quarter lead, but the Cougars cut the lead to 31-28 at the half.
Key games Friday find Beech Grove at Park Tudor in an Indiana Crossroads Conference matchup; Center Grove goes to Pike; Greenwood seeks its first league win at home against Franklin, and Whiteland visits Roncalli. Greenwood Christian visits Lutheran in a Southside duel Saturday. All games start at 7:30 p.m.
Girls county tournament
The Marion County girls basketball tourney opened at eight sites Tuesday (results too late for deadline).
Perry Meridian was the only Southside team in the upper bracket. A win by the Falcons on Tuesday would find them playing at the home of the North Central-Lawrence North winner in the quarterfinals Thursday at 7 p.m.
In the lower bracket, Thursday’s quarterfinals would include the Franklin Central-Lutheran winner at the Southport-Decatur Central victor and the Ben Davis-Roncalli winner at the Beech Grove-Park Tudor victor.
Ben Davis is host Saturday to the semifinals at 10 a.m. and the championship game at 7:30 p.m.