CHURUBUSCO — A busy and wild week of Indiana high school boys’ basketball finished with a upset within the Whitley County lines Saturday night.
Coming off a loss at Fort Wayne Wayne Friday, the class 3A No. 2 Wildcats suffered their first consecutive losses of the season at the hands of the Eagles 65-59.
“What a great basketball game for the fans to watch tonight,” Churubusco head coach Mike McBride said. “Two good teams played really hard. It’s a shame anyone has to lose but we’re glad we came out on top tonight.”
Whitko (14-4) looked like the state- ranked team opening up with a 7-0 run. Ten points by junior point guard Logan Irwin set the tone for an early Whitko lead 13-10 after one quarter.
Despite the loss, Irwin stood on top of the record books in boys’ basketball at Whitko Saturday.
Needing 25 points coming into the night to overtake Steve Nicodemus for all-time points leader at Whitko, Irwin dropped 26 points on ’Busco.
Irwin clinched the all-time spot with a three-pointer in the fourth quarter to total 1,475 points.
“Logan’s going to be happy if we score two points or 30 if we get the win,” Whitko interim head coach Mike Kline said. “So, I think that record is kind of a backseat to whatever the team does.”
Even with a combined 51 points between Irwin and senior Zac VanDeWater, Whitko couldn’t hold off Churubusco.
The momentum shifted in the Eagles’ favor in the second quarter with a change on defense. ’Busco went to a 2-3 zone defense stopping the Wildcat penetration.
The result led to Churubusco’s biggest run of the night.
“We were having a little trouble in our man-to-man defense,” McBride noted. “So, we switched to the 2-3 zone and gave them a little change. I thought it was effective for us. I think it changed the tide in the first half and got things going in our favor.”
With under five minutes left in the second quarter, ’Busco went from a 18-12 deficit to a 25-18 lead in four minutes of play.
After gaining its first lead, senior Tavin Herendeen widened the gap hitting back-to-back three-pointers. Herendeen went 3-for-3 from behind the arc for Churubusco.
“We had a huge lift from Tavin Herendeen who came in and knocked down some threes,” McBride said. “Tavin stepped up big for us tonight.”
The Eagles (12-5) lead grew to as much as seven points to start the third quarter before VanDeWater led Whitko back.
Picking up for the absence of forward Derek Snep, who was out, VanDeWater scored 12 of his 25 points in the third quarter.
His second three-pointer of the quarter helped Whitko regain the lead momentarily 37-36.
Again, Tavin Herendeen sparked the Churubusco offense hitting a three-pointer with six seconds left to take the game into the final quarter tied 44-44.
“When we’re going good we’ve got other guys making shots and tonight it didn’t happen,” Kline said.
Whitko struggled going 21-of-61 (34 percent) from the field. Despite the slump, the Wildcats held the lead as late as the 4:20 mark in the fourth quarter.
“We were happy with the effort in the second half,” Kline said. “We’ll take that and get ourselves ready for sectional.”
Six lead changes in the final eight minutes had Churubusco take it last, however.
An offensive rebound by Eagle center Tyler Arrowsmith tied the game 54-54.
Free throws helped ’Busco pull away. The Eagles went 22-for-26 at the line.
A technical foul by Irwin along with a personal foul gave Churubusco four consecutive free throws. Senior Hunter Nicodemus knocked down two of those leading ’Busco with 17 points.
“It was big,” McBride said of the fouls in the fourth. “We went to the line and made four free throws. You have to make those free throws to win this type of game.”
Four different Eagles scored in double figures during the win. Kyle Monk joined Arrowsmith, Nicodemus and Herendeen with 11 points or more for each.
“This is a great team effort,” McBride commented. “I thought they battled. That’s the No. 2 team in the state and there aren’t a lot of teams that have beaten them this year.”