INDIANAPOLIS — Not many high schoolers have the opportunity to walk out of the same tunnel as NBA greats, let alone play on the same hardwood as the likes of All-Stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers.
But the 14 Bulldogs from Lapel High School (12-8, ICC 3-3) did just that Monday against Class 2A No. 1 Park Tudor (18-4, ICC 7-0).
“It was a great experience,” Lapel’s Mitchell Richardson said. “Coach (Jimmie) Howell really provides for us, and he does a great job scheduling great games for us — tough schedule. I really enjoyed playing here ... I will remember it forever.”
While the memories of the experience may be fond for Richardson and his teammates, the outcome was not so sweet as they fell 73-47 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Bulldogs fell behind early and were not able to recover from the Panthers' 13-4 run in the first six minutes of the game.
“(We) missed a lot of easy stuff — got a lot of good shots,” Howell said. “We did not get back in transition like we need to, and they jumped out to a lead.”
Lapel looked jittery early, missing its first seven shots from the field. The Bulldogs' first bucket bucket came from Noah Hendershot at the five-minute mark.
“Playing here it is a big arena,” Richardson said. “It has a different background that offsets your shooting a little bit.”
Richardson led Lapel with 10 points, on 4-of-10 shooting, and corralled four rebounds. Kameron Herrington came off the bench to connect on three of his five attempts from 3-point range, scoring nine points.
As Lapel continued to struggle with its shooting, finishing 20-of-52 (38 percent) from the field, Park Tudor didn’t seem to have much trouble finding the bucket.
“I did not think we were that bad defensively, they just hit a lot of great shots,” Howell said. “We kept them out of the paint for the most part. The only chance we have to be competitive with them is if they are not shooting the ball well, and they were shooting it well tonight.”
The Panthers were 31-of-60 (51 percent), including 10-of-26 from beyond the arc. They were led by one of the most recuited players in Indiana, Trevon Bluiett. The senior, who is committed to play at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, had a game-high 34 points on 14-of-25 shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds.
“Trevon is a great player,” Richardson said. “We really respect him.”
As Bluiett seemingly was in a league of his own, the Bulldogs were able to hold his teammates in check and allowed just two other players to hit double figures in scoring, Bryce Moore and Austin Shelton had 11 points apiece.
“We really take pride in our defense,” Richardson said. “Coach Howell really stresses defense to us. We tried to keep everyone else in balance. Trevon, he is obviously going to get his.”
Bluiett accounted for nearly half of Park Tudor's field goals attempts and made buckets.
“They are a very good team,” Howell said. “They are a top-10, 15 team in the state, all classes. We knew we where fighting an uphill battle coming in, but I like a lot of things we did.”
Lapel’s next game will also be a road contest as the Bulldogs travel to Indianapolis Ritter on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.