Having scored just six second-half points in the previous two games combined, Beech Grove junior Jadyn Curry came alive when the Hornets needed him the most. He responded by pouring in 20 points as Beech Grove defeated Monrovia 51-46 in overtime Saturday night at the Branch McCracken Memorial Gymnasium in Monrovia.
Curry scored eight of his point total in the first half as Beech Grove jumped out to a 16-3 lead early in the second quarter. After senior Jordan Hovious knocked down a trey to give the host Bulldogs a 3-0 advantage in the game’s opening minute, the Hornets held Monrovia scoreless for just more than eight minutes, playing their best game defensively this season. Beech Grove (6-3, 2-0 in the Indiana Crossroads Conference) forced 18 turnovers, 13 of which resulted in steals. The catalysts were senior Josh Copenhaver and junior Gavin Mitchell, who each collected three steals.
Monrovia’s six-foot, eight-inch senior center Josh Smith tallied 18 points, but Coach Mike Renfro’s Beech Grove outfit made him earn each of those points. Held to just four field goals for the night, Smith made 9-of-10 foul shots to reach his point total. He did however collect a game-high 14 rebounds and blocked four shots. Hovious was the only other double-figure scorer for the Bulldogs (10-2, 4-1 in the ICC) with 17 points to go with four assists and four rebounds.
But the star of the game was Curry, who poured in 12 points in the second half and overtime combined. He knocked down a game-tying three-pointer with 1:50 left in regulation time, made two free throws with 1:25 remaining in overtime and swished another pair of charity tosses with 16.6 seconds to go in the extra period to clinch the game for the Hornets. He also dished out three assists and garnered two steals.
Playing in just his second game of the season, Mitchell played a huge supporting role by scoring five points (including a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer), grabbing five rebounds (two in overtime), and picking up two assists (both in the extra session on baskets by Josh Copenhaver and Vin Pich).
Seniors Josh Fryar and Kaleb Arsenault were the leading rebounders for Beech Grove with seven and six respectively. Junior Alex Willett grabbed eight boards for the host Bulldogs.
Copenhaver, another senior, was the second-leading Beech Grove scorer with nine points. No other Hornet had more than five points.
Beech Grove has now won all six meetings against Monrovia on the boys basketball hardwood since the two schools began facing each other during the 2014-15 season. It has won all three meetings in the Branch McCracken Memorial Gymnasium, which was renamed for the legendary men’s basketball coach at Indiana University, Emmett “Branch” McCracken, 49 years ago this week. McCracken, who passed away in June 1970, was a 1926 graduate of Monrovia High School.
The Hornets begin play in the Marion County Tournament this Tuesday night at Decatur Central’s David “Doc” Rather Gymnasium in a first-round matchup. It is a rematch of a January 4th contest between the schools (Decatur won that particular meeting 65-55, but the Hornets were without Jajuan Allison, Gavin Mitchell and Josh Fryar). All three players will be available when the Hornets lock horns once again with the host Hawks. Tipoff is at 6:30 p.m.