Southsider voice correspondent
Southport Fieldhouse and the Marion County boys basketball tournament have provided many memorable Hoosier Hysteria moments.
But most of those memories pale in comparison to what happened Friday night inside one of the state’s historic basketball palaces – a quadruple overtime game in the tourney’s semifinal round.
The unbeaten and No. 1 Southport Cardinals squared off against No. 9 Pike in the nightcap of the double-header.
The outcome, although it adds to the lore of Hoosier Hysteria, wound up with the Cardinals’ 11-game run coming to an end, 92-86, as Pike outscored Southport 11-5 in the fourth extra period. There were 25 lead changes and 17 ties throughout the marathon game.
Southport coach Kyle Simpson played 11 Cardinals as three players fouled out.
The Cards fought back from a 32-28 halftime deficit and regained the lead going into the fourth quarter. Southport led for the last time, 85-83, on a hook shot by 6-10 Joey Brunk.
Brunk scored a game-high 32 points, with Malik Bennett and Paul Scruggs tallying 24 and 18, respectively.
The Cardinals opened the tourney by going on the road Jan. 13 to defeat upset-minded Decatur Central 72-56 and returned to the fieldhouse Jan. 14 to upend 2A No. 1 Park Tudor 54-47.
Southport (12-1), ranked No. 2 in the latest coaches poll, returned to Conference Indiana action Tuesday at Lawrence North (result unavailable at press time) and faces league foe Terre Haute North on Saturday in the fieldhouse.
Pike (10-2), mentored by former Center Grove coach Bill Zych, defeated Ben Davis 54-51 Saturday for the county title.
Center Grove wins Johnson County
Elsewhere on Saturday, Center Grove achieved one of its first-year goals under new coach and former Butler standout Zach Hahn by winning the Johnson County tourney at Greenwood High School.
Led by Belmont University recruit Michael Benkert Jr., a 6-4 senior guard, the Trojans dropped Whiteland 55-45, icing the game by connecting on eight consecutive free throws in the final 87 seconds.
Center Grove led 20-11 at the end of the first quarter. Whiteland utilized a full-court press and closed to 47-41 with 1:29 to go in the game. The Trojans then put on a free-throw shooting exhibition.
Benkert led all scorers with 19 points, with 12 coming in the third quarter on three treys and three free throws. Junior guard Trevor Harrell was an impressive 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
The Trojans, who had a 29-20 rebounding edge, hit on 16-of-33 field goal tries while Whiteland was a cold 13-of-48. The Trojans (9-4) narrowly defeated Whiteland 50-47 on the Warriors’ floor Dec. 19.
“When we played them before we didn’t have that defensive intensity that we had this time,” Benkert said. “Our defense was the game-changer.”
Center Grove reached the title game by dominating Greenwood 57-29 in the semifinals Friday, after defeating Greenwood 62-43 Dec. 17. The Trojans are 5-0 against Johnson County foes.
“We had to pass through two really solid teams,” Hahn said. “Greenwood is solid defensively, and Whiteland is solid offensively and defensively. Our free throws sealed the deal.”
The Trojans return to action Friday against Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rival and Marion County runner-up Ben Davis. Roncalli visits Center Grove on Saturday in a matchup that features two of the state’s top scorers, Benkert and the Rebels’ single-game scoring record-holder Jimmy Kirby.
In boys games Friday, Decatur Central visits Greenwood in a girl-boy double-header (6 p.m.), and New Palestine is at Roncalli. On Saturday, Columbus North visits Perry Meridian, Lutheran is host to Triton Central, with Eminence at Greenwood Christian.
In girls games, Friday it’s Perry Meridian at Southport, New Palestine at Beech Grove; on Saturday, Ben Davis at Center Grove, Lutheran at Scecina, Roncalli at No. 1 Bedford North, Lawrence and Southport at Martinsville.
All games, unless indicated, are at 7:30 p.m.