By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
The Anderson boys basketball team finally made its home debut Friday night. It found one of the best Class 3A teams in the state patiently waiting.
Guerin Catholic (4-0) used big runs in the second and fourth quarters to hold off the young Tribe (1-2) and pull away to a 64-54 victory.
“They don’t have a choice but to play hard,” Anderson coach Joe Nadaline said of his inexperienced team. “But I thought they were better tonight.”
Coming off an 87-66 loss last Saturday at Fort Wayne Snider, the Indians never allowed the third-ranked Golden Eagles to get too far away in the home opener.
Whit Rapp, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, went coast-to-coast for a layup at the buzzer that put Guerin Catholic ahead 12-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Aaron Brennan — who scored a game-high 25 points and added 10 boards — then keyed a 10-4 second-quarter run, and the Golden Eagles pushed their lead into double digits (31-21) at halftime.
It looked as though the visitors would pull away to a rout late in the third quarter when Anderson’s deficit grew to 14 at 44-30. But senior Grant Bennett got hot and went on a personal six-point run.
Junior Fresan Reese added a jumper just before the buzzer, and the Indians entered the final quarter trailing just 46-38. Even that advantage didn’t last long for Guerin Catholic.
Senior Kenya Wilkerson — who led the Tribe with 18 points — made a pair of free throws to open the fourth quarter, and then things got a little crazy.
Bennett drained a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc, and a foul was whistled against the Golden Eagles underneath the basket. When the Indians were awarded another possession and got set to pass the ball inbounds, the Guerin Catholic bench protested.
A technical foul was called against the visitors, and Wilkerson made one of two free throws to cut the deficit to 46-44. Sophomore Kobe Clay added two more free throws on the ensuing possession, and the game was tied with 6:54 to play.
Then Anderson’s youth reared its head.
The Tribe turned the ball over on the next three possessions, sparking a 12-0 run by Guerin Catholic to put the game away. Between Bennett’s 3-pointer prior to the technical foul and Reese’s jumper with 1:55 remaining, Anderson went 5:25 of clock time without scoring a field goal.
“Getting there (tied) was really great for them,” Nadaline said. “But once they got there, they just didn’t know how to follow through and get that stop or two that would have made the difference in the game. That’s just the difference between an inexperienced team and an experienced one.”
Anderson shot just 5-of-12 in the fourth quarter overall, and the Golden Eagles iced the game away by sinking 12 of 16 free-throw attempts in the period.
Bennett finished with nine points, and Reese had eight for the Indians. Matt Holba had 14 for Guerin Catholic, with 11 coming in the first half.
Anderson hosts Class 3A No. 7 Batesville tonight, weather permitting. And Nadaline said he likes what his team showed him Friday night.
“I thought we took a step forward,” he said. “We didn’t take a step back.”