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IndyStar | The Indianapolis Star

Ben Davis hadn't beat Carmel since 2017. Giants get it done — barely — to stay undefeated.

By Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star,


There is no extra credit for going undefeated. The state championship trophy is not any larger or the celebration any more extravagant.

Ben Davis coach Don Carlisle has said several times this season that an unbeaten record is not the goal. But here are the Giants, a perfect 21-0 after a thrilling 46-45 road victory over Carmel on Friday night.

At this point, why not go for perfection?

“It’s not the biggest goal,” Ben Davis senior Zane Doughty said. “But if we end up doing it, it’s another one of those bonuses.”

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If nothing else, Friday’s win helped prepare the Class 4A top-ranked Giants for the style of game and atmosphere they will see at some point in the tournament. Carmel (11-6) rallied from a six-point deficit early in the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers by senior Sam Orme to take a 35-33 lead with 4:37 left.

Ben Davis, for the first time since the third game of the season — a 55-52 overtime win over Southport — had a true game on its hands in the final minutes.

“On the road in a tough environment,” Carlisle said. “And that guy (Carmel coach Ryan Osborn) can coach his butt off. I told him he’s a magician with that board.”

K.J. Windham scored his first points of the game to put Ben Davis ahead 39-36 with 3 minutes remaining. The 6-9 Orme, who scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, scored with 1:24 remaining to pull the Greyhounds within 39-38.

On the next play, Orme came up with a steal and drove the length of the floor. But he missed the layup, on which Osborn argued unsuccessfully that Orme was fouled and Sheridan Sharp fired the ball ahead to Zane Doughty for a dunk.

That turned out to be Carmel’s best opportunity to pull ahead. Ben Davis senior Clay Butler drilled both ends of a 1-and-1 with 24.2 seconds left and again with 15.7 seconds left after Carmel had pulled within a point. Butler then came up with a steal and again made the front-end of a 1-and-1 for a 46-42 lead with 12 seconds remaining.

“I always like him with the ball in his hands at the end of those games,” Carlisle said. “He’s going to make those free throws. I have extreme confidence in him making those free throws in those situations. He’s grown. He’s a great player, especially in the clutch.”

Orme made a 3-pointer to bring Carmel within a point, but the Greyhounds were out of timeouts and Shaun Arnold held the ball as the clock ran out.

The 6-9 Doughty led Ben Davis with 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots. Butler added 10 points — all in the second half — and Mark Zackery had nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first half.

Sophomore Alex Couto had 10 points for Carmel and Spencer White added seven points and six rebounds. The Greyhounds committed just eight turnovers against Ben Davis’ pressure defense.

“I can’t be more proud of them,” Osborn said of his team. “I can’t. I don’t think I’d be any more proud of them if we had won. They are a great team and they are awesome kids. I think walking out of the locker room, there is some hunger in there and I do believe we’re going to keep getting better.”

Ben Davis trailed 16-13 at halftime in a low-possession, half-court game. The Giants produced just one point in the first half from a player other than Doughty and Zackery on a second-quarter free throw by Sheridan Sharp. The Giants pounded the ball inside to the 6-9 Doughty in the first half, but Jared Bonds made it difficult for Doughty to get a clean look.

“I just started powering through it and not caring and it ended up working,” Doughty said.

Ben Davis had not had much success against Carmel in recent years. Carlisle, in his fifth season, had never defeated the Greyhounds, including a loss in the 2019 Class 4A state championship game.

“We hadn’t beat these guys in a while,” Carlisle said.

Ben Davis has just five regular-season games remaining, starting Saturday at home against City tournament champion Crispus Attucks. After those five games, every game from there is a one-and-done situation. Friday was not, but it felt like it was.

Doughty said the win over Carmel, and the way it happened, made it “more meaningful than other wins.”

“We needed that experience,” Doughty said. “So we know what to do in those situations to see if we can push through it.”

Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.

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