FISHERS, Ind. -- When Hamilton Southeastern's Zak Irvin went to the free throw line for the first time Tuesday night, the Fishers student section chanted "sidekick, sidekick" -- an obvious reference to Irvin playing alongside IndyStar.com Mr. Basketball Gary Harris a year ago.
But against his Hamilton County rivals, Irvin was far from the sidekick. He appeared to embrace the role of star pretty well -- and got some decent support along the way.
The 6-8 Irvin, bound for Michigan after this season, torched the visiting Tigers for 31 points -- 24 in the first half -- and 12 rebounds, leading his squad to an easy 81-61 win in front of a packed gym in the season opener for both squads.
Hamilton Southeastern, ranked seventh in Class 4A, was never threatened, bolting to a 25-9 lead after 8 minutes, and building the advantage to 30 with 1:24 to go in the first half off a slam from Irvin.
"It was a big game, especially against a big rival," said Irvin, who hit on 11-of-14 shots from the floor, including 6-of-8 3-pointers. "I just wanted to wait and let the game come to me. The ball definitely was dropping, and I got some great shots, but that's because of my teammates getting me the ball when I was open."
The Royals shot 57 percent from the floor, had assists on 19 of their 30 baskets and got points or rebounds from everyone who played. Eric Davidson scored 11 points and had three assists for the Royals, while Tyler Jenkins chipped in eight points and five assists. And the HSE bench came through with 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
"We've got guys battling for starting spots, and that makes for some competitive practices," HSE coach Brian Satterfield said. "I feel like our depth is going to be one of our strengths this year."
The Royals shot 9-of-13 in the opening quarter, and then improved over the next 8 minutes, hitting 10-of-13 shots. The Tigers, meanwhile, missed on 16 of their first 24 shots. The Royals led by 16 after the first quarter and by 27 at the half.
The Tigers got 21 points from Jaylon Brown and 15 from C.J. Johnson.
"People forget that we only have three guys who have ever played varsity minutes," Satterfield said. "We didn't know how they'd react. But they came out and did a great job. It helps when you hit a couple shots early, and it helps when those are wide-open shots."