Boys basketball: Merrillville knocks off SB Adams to advance to semistate
By LaMond Pope 648-3090 or email@example.com March 9, 2013 11:16PM
Merillville's Isaiah Williams holds up the Regional Plaque as the team poses for photos at center court at Michigan City High School on Saturday, March 9, 2013. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 11, 2013 7:12AM
MICHIGAN CITY — It started with a floater. And it ended with a layup.
In between, Merrillville took control of the Class 4A Michigan City Regional championship game.
Merrillville scored 12 consecutive points in the second quarter en route to a 76-55 victory against South Bend Adams.
“We came out with intensity,” forward Zoran Talley said. “It’s 11 seniors on our team. We came out and played like this is our last game. We don’t want to go home.”
Instead, the Pirates will be going to semistate to face Carmel.
“We believed in ourselves and what we could accomplish from the beginning of the year,” Merrillville coach T.J. Lux said. “Our guys, we believe where we can go and what we can achieve. That’s where it starts. That confidence and belief in one another.”
Talley and Jelani Pruitt both had 20 points.
“It’s a little bit different than what we’re used to playing. A lot of teams in our conference like to slow it up. We feel very comfortable in an open court, open floor type of game. We don’t get to play in many of them,” Lux said. “Jelani is a tough matchup in those situations. He’s big, he’s quick, he can handle the ball. He got off to a great start attacking the rim.
“Zoran is so long. He’s a monster when he’s going to the basket. Those guys really did a great job attacking the rim.”
B.J. Jenkins had 14 points and Darion Williams added 13 points as the Pirates (22-3) displayed a balanced attack.
“We know each other,” Pruitt said. “We know each other like the back of our hands. We know what everybody is going to do and where they are going to be at. We have good communication as a team.”
Both teams came out scoring in a fast-paced first quarter. South Bend Adams (22-3) scored the final four points of the quarter to cut Merrillville’s lead to 23-20.
The Pirates were still leading by three, 28-25, when they started their game-changing run. Talley stared it with the floater. He then made a 3-pointer. Pruitt followed with a layup to make it 35-25. South Bend Adams called a timeout, but it didn’t slow down the Pirates’ momentum.
Jenkins made a 3-pointer and Pruitt capped the spurt with a layup to make it 40-25.
“The key was we started getting in the right spots and we did a good job on the boards,” Lux said. “We forced them to take shots that were a little bit further away than they wanted to. And they were all contested threes.”
South Bend Adams scored six straight to get within 50-37 with 2:23 to go in the third quarter. Merrillville responded with a knockout punch, scoring eight straight points.
“The experience that the guys have, they shift gears to the mode of whatever it takes to make sure we win,” Lux said. “This desperation of almost, we’re not losing this game. It’s a mental toughness mindset.”