The Terre Haute North Patriots traveled to Bloomington to take on the Bloomington High School South Panthers on Friday night the 17th of December. The Patriots haven’t won in Bloomington in 25 years and looked to break that streak. The Panthers came into the game with a great 4-1 record and a number nine ranking in the AP poll but they were stymied by the number 14 Patriots in a low scoring knock down slug fest highlighted by some great defense and timely shooting. This game was close all the way to the end but the Patriots were able to pull it off with free throws stemming from a, some Panthers fans may say controversial, foul call with 2.4 seconds left.
Game Recap and Analysis
Being a BHSS grad I was excited to walk into the gym where I spent a lot of time to see a great high scoring offensive powered Indiana high school basketball game. Well that couldn’t have been farther from the case as this game was characterized by terrific defense by both teams and a slowed down grind it out kind of pace. Off the tip the Panthers started out in a tough to penetrate matchup 1-2-2 zone that helped keep the Patriots in check. BHSS looked to use their size against a slightly undersized Patriots squad, but were unable to do so as the Patriots defense was up to the challenge and kept the game tight all the way through the first quarter. At the end of the first the game was all tied up at 11 all.
The second quarter saw Bloomington South come to life as Indiana’s all time winningest coach J.R. Holmes throw in a few new wrinkles into their motion offense and a tough match-up zone defense to go on a brief run. The Patriots looked out of sorts at times trying to figure out this zone and their shooting went a bit cold as the Panthers took a 20-17 halftime lead.
Coming out of halftime the Panthers looked very stagnant as if they believed that they could just coast for the rest of the game and pick up the W. The Patriots had other plans as they made some great adjustments and slowed down the tempo even more. They knocked down some great open shots to go along with a renewed effort at the defensive end to pop off a 7-2 run and took the lead with 3:44 left to go in the 3rd. The Patriots ended the quarter holding the Panthers to only 4 points in the entire 3rd quarter. The Panthers were all out of sorts on the offensive end coming out of halftime and the Patriots capitalized by outscoring them 9-4 to take a 2 point lead going into the decisive 4th quarter.
J.R. must’ve lit a spark under his Panther team in that huddle because they came out with a fire in their bellies and employed a strong trapping pressure defense that forced the Patriots into a couple turnovers that turned into easy baskets and took the lead on an amazing steal and then capitalized off that turnover with an and 1 on the other end to take the lead with 39.9 seconds left. Not to be outdone though the Patriots got the ball back and ran the clock down hoping to take the final shot. #20 for the Patriots saw an opening down the right side of the lane and drove all the way into the teeth of the defense drawing a foul and hitting both free throws to put the Patriots up for good with 2.4 seconds left. Check out this slideshow of that final foul call and see for yourself.
Terre Haute North Patriots:
The Patriots were a bit salty about that 25 game losing streak at BHSS and it showed in their tenacity on the defensive end. They are a very well coached and patient offensive team and will not take a shot until it is the right one. To put it bluntly they simply out coached, out executed and out hustled the Panthers in this one. They definitely seemed to want it more on this given night. I was very impressed with the grit and fight that they showed throughout the game. Who knows, maybe this is the Patriots year to make some noise in 4a. They certainly impressed me tonight.
Bloomington High School South:
The Panthers start a 6’8 center with an impressive array of skills, but they did not use him properly at all in this one. They employed a motion type offense that often times had the big man at the top of the 3 point line. Their pick and roll game was atrocious, partly to blame on the great THN defense, but mostly to blame on the lack of actually hitting the roller who at most times had at least 4 inches on anyone guarding him. The Panthers also lack that go to scorer to get them buckets when they need them the most as they seem to have almost every year. I think the Panthers will bounce back and do some damage in 4a but they will definitely need to execute better.