For a quarter-and-a-half Wednesday, the host Pike High School boys basketball team did what it wanted against Class 4A defending state champion Carmel. The second-ranked Red Devils held a 13-point lead and appeared headed for a blowout win.
The No. 3 Greyhounds, though, whittled the Pike lead down to nine by halftime and looked like a different team in the second half. Carmel (11-1) went on to run away with a 69-58 win in a rematch between last year's state finalists.
"That was huge to build some confidence going into the half," said Carmel senior James Crowley, who scored seven of his game-high 24 points during the Greyhounds' second-quarter surge. "We knew we could make some runs on them."
Pike (12-2) put on a clinic in building a 17-8 first-quarter lead, with five of the Red Devils' seven field goals coming off layups; most were the result of Pike's suffocating defense forcing Carmel into turnovers.
"I thought it was one of our best quarters defensively," said Pike coach Bill Zych. "We were really focused on what we wanted to do and that led to our offense. I think we gave them some life in that second quarter. It was 18-18 in the quarter, but I thought they felt better about what they did offensively. In the third quarter, they did a great job defensively. Us, not so much."
Pike senior guard Taishaun Johnson was the catalyst for the Red Devils in the first half, slashing through the Greyhounds defense for 13 points. Crowley smothered Johnson with tight defense in the second half and the Greyhounds followed serve. Johnson scored just once and finished with 15 points.
"In the second half, we didn't give up the lane drives, we made them shoot from the perimeter; and offensively, we were patient, we moved the ball and we ended up getting good shots," said Carmel coach Scott Heady. "I thought (in the first quarter), we took some quick shots and were impatient, which led to the tempo being to their liking."
James Volovic scored 16 points for Carmel and Zach McRoberts added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Zavier Turner led Pike with 21 points and Jordan Pickett and Anthony Patterson each scored 10. Patterson missed most of the second half with what Zych termed a mild sprained ankle.
Pike led 35-22 with 1:50 left in the first half before Carmel responded with a 22-8 run that covered the rest of the half and third quarter. The Greyhounds took a 44-43 lead into the fourth, which they would not relinquish. Carmel shot 59.1 percent (13-of-22) from the floor in the second half. The Greyhounds were sparkling from the foul line, hitting 19-of-22 (86.4 percent) for the game.
"They have so many weapons," Zych said. "They're hard to catch when they're ahead."