Ben Davis finishes 33-0 and becomes IHSAA immortal. “That team is making history.”
The majority of the 15,533 spectators at the Class 4A state basketball playoffs on Saturday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse had left. Just 30 minutes earlier, Ben Davis’ top-ranked team had defeated Kokomo 53-41 to complete its illustrious perfect season, and players and coaches were mingling on the court while joking around. all but one.
Senior point guard Sheridan Sharp stood at halfcourt with his hands on his head and gazed off into the horizon. Several children in the state of Indiana grow up dreaming about walking in Sharp’s shoes. Few succeed in it. Fewer yet could possibly fully savor the occasion, as Sharp did there at midcourt on Saturday night.
There are many emotions present at this time, Sharp added. “It’s a fantasy realized. I’m still astonished. We’ve always wanted this. We set a goal to go 33-0 and shatter the record at the start of the season. To act and adhere to something is difficult. We were guided by what we did. The Ben Davis squad’s epic odyssey came to an end as they became the 14th high school boys basketball team in state history to go undefeated. None had a 33-0 record. Ben Davis accomplished it with a group of teammates who were cooperative and selfless, cranking up the pressure when it was needed with an aggressive press and passing the ball around like they didn’t really care who got it.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Mike Woodson of Indiana, Juwan Howard of Michigan, John Calipari of Kentucky, Tom Izzo of Michigan State, and Bruce Pearl of Auburn were watching Ben Davis’ struggle against 6-10 junior Flory Bidunga of Kokomo. In the third quarter, big man Zane Doughty of Ben Davis received his second and third fouls in short succession and sat down.
Bidunga scored eight of the nine points during an early 9-0 run for Kokomo. In the waning seconds of the third quarter, with Ben Davis clinging to a 36-33 advantage, Doughty entered the game once more.
The 6-9 Doughty grinned and added, “First thing I’m thinking is the refs are trying to make this a game calling two ticky-tack fouls. “But, I had confidence in my team to keep them at bay long enough for me to return to the fray. They did, too.
They simply did. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Kokomo (24-5) had the support of the fans and the momentum. With 6:20 left, though, Doughty made two decisive plays against Bidunga to restore the Ben Davis advantage at 40-33. When Doughty scored once more and Mark Zackery tossed one down following a steal, Kokomo was unable to regain its offensive rhythm and fell behind by 11 points.
With an 11-point advantage, the Ben Davis supporters began chanting “We are BD!” Carlisle, a former player for Ben Davis who won two state titles, urged the crowd to shout louder. They gave in.
Carlisle stated, “At Ben Davis, it’s what we learn, to play unselfishly. It’s not simply a Don Carlisle thing; Ben Davis is involved as well. Yet, in my opinion, it is how you play basketball. That won’t alter no matter how much I develop as a coach. That is something I will always cherish. They’ll play as a team, passing the ball back and forth. You can’t criticize being 33-0 in any way. That team is making history.
A day after turning 18 years old, Doughty had a game-high 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting. The sophomore Zackery, known as “Big Game,” once again delivered with 16 points, including 3-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Adding 12 points were Shaun Arnold.
After the game, Kokomo’s Bidunga, who arrived in the United States from the Democratic Republic of the Congo only in August 2021, was in tears. After congratulating senior teammate Shayne Spear on winning the Class 4A Mental Attitude Award, he sobbed again when asked what the team meant to him.
It’s the final game with the seniors, according to Bidunga. “We will no longer play together. Season’s conclusion is approaching.
Bidunga had 19 points, 11 rebounds, and five shots blocked in the final tally. He shot 1-for-7 from the line while going 9-for-12 from the field, unable to capitalize there. The score of Zavion Bellamy was nine. The Wildkats committed 15 turnovers in total.
Coach John Peckinpaugh of Kokomo remarked, “Zane got back in the game and kind of went loose and we kind of ran out of energy.” We occasionally fumbled the ball and failed to take advantage of stops. Yet, you must be able to halt their runs because they have a strong team. We were unable to halt their advances long enough to complete the task.
There will undoubtedly be another team that goes unbeaten and even equals the Giants’ record at some point in the future.
CLICK HERE TO ACCESS MORE NEWS