WILDWOOD, N.J. — The Indiana boys’ basketball team knows what to do in late-game pressure situations. The Indians have a first-place plaque that says so.
For the second straight day, Indiana buckled down on defense in the second half and overcame a deficit to come away from the highly regarded Boardwalk Classic with a pair of impressive victories over out-of-state foes.
Indiana nipped Greenbrier Christian Academy (Va.), 40-38, in the championship game of the Big Al Memorial Bracket on Sunday. The tournament field is split into 10 four-team brackets, all named after local community figures, and a champion is crowned in each bracket.
For the second straight game, the Indians relied on their experience in late-game pressure situations and responded like champions.
“We didn’t shoot real well again, but man, we played so hard,” Indiana second-year coach Greg Lezanic said. “Again, like last night, we made the plays we had to make at the end of the game. That’s what it came down to. We made a couple big defensive stops, a couple big defensive rebounds.”
Riley Stapleton scored 15 points and pulled down a team-high six rebounds to lead Indiana, and Kevin Jack added 10 points.
Indiana endured a long dry spell spanning the first and second quarters, during which Greenbrier pulled ahead with an 11-0 run.
Indiana didn’t reclaim the lead until the fourth quarter.
Indiana took a 10-4 lead five minutes into the game, but the Indians went scoreless over the next 5:16, until Jack scored with 5:52 to play in the second quarter to halt Greenbrier’s 11-0 run.
But that only momentarily stopped the Gators’ momentum. They put together another 8-2 run to take their biggest lead of the game, 23-14, with 4:18 left in the first half. Indiana closed within 25-19 by halftime.
Greenbrier shot 9-for-20 (45 percent) in the opening half. Klayton Inmon shot 9-for-15 for the game and scored 26 points for the Gators.
The Indians shot just 7-for-18 (39 percent) in the first half, but they were 3-for-6 from 3-point range.
The second half didn’t start out much better for Indiana.
The offense struggled to find a spark, and the Indians trailed 31-23 with 4:37 left in the third quarter after a pair of Greenbrier free throws. That’s when something changed. The Gators didn’t score again in the third quarter and totaled seven points over the final 12:37 as Indiana ended the game on a 17-7 run.
The Indians’ offense came alive in the 16-point fourth quarter, when they nearly scored half their points.
Two key fourth-quarter plays stood out to Lezanic. Jack also nailed a key 3-pointer in the final quarter.
“Riley Stapleton made a nice drive to the hoop on the baseline, and he was fouled for the natural three-point play,” Lezanic said. “And then Dylan made a nice drive down the middle, a nice little reverse layup through traffic that helped us out quite a bit.”