Boys basketball: Griffith makes itself at home, wins Highland title
By RYAN HASKELL Post-Tribune correspondent December 28, 2013 10:28PM
Updated: January 30, 2014 7:01AM
HIGHLAND — Rodney Lewis’ favorite Christmas present was a monetary gift from his mother and grandmother.
But his favorite holiday award was the inaugural Highland Holiday Hoopfest tournament championship trophy he and his Griffith teammates earned Saturday night when they topped Highland 62-43 in the title game.
Lewis recorded 10 of his 13 points in the first half as he, Anthony Murphy and Tremell Murphy were named to the all-tournament team following the trophy presentation. Anthony Murphy finished with 13 points, while Tremell tallied a team-high 16 points in the victory.
It was Griffith’s fourth straight win on Highland’s court. The Panthers knocked off the Trojans on Dec. 20 in Northwest Crossroads Conference play 52-37 before wedging in a pair of victories over South Bend Clay (76-43) and Hobart (68-32) en route to the title.
“This was our fourth game here in a week,” Griffith coach Gary Hayes said. “We were concerned about playing Highland on their home court but we seem to have become pretty comfortable here.
“We’ve been playing pretty controlled basketball and that was the difference tonight.”
The Panthers (6-1) came right out and attacked the offensive end, taking a 20-8 first-quarter lead. Griffith drilled four 3s to open the inside for four easy buckets.
“We were playing together,” Lewis said. “We played well in that first quarter passing the ball around and getting our post players a touch.”
Senior guard Flint Powell was responsible for most of the team’s scoring though it didn’t reflect on the stat sheet.
“He’s the leader of the team,” Lewis said. “He gets everything set up and he calms everybody down and he’s always there when we’re out of control.”
Hayes said his three-headed monster of Erick Johnson (six points), Chad Noldin (five points) and Murphy make his team tough to stop offensively.
But he stressed that Powell is the glue that keeps this team stuck together.
“Powell makes us go and he gets us into good space,” Hayes said of his senior point guard who scored seven points.
The Trojans cut the lead to nine points on an Addison Almeda field goal midway through the third quarter but the Panthers went on an 11-2 run to close out the quarter, capped by a buzzer-beater from Powell.
Highland’s Matt Benninghoff (10 points) was named to the all-tournament team, along with Morton’s Rayan Elabed. Tommy Brankin led the Trojans (4-5) with 13 points Saturday night.