Senior Jadyn Curry stepped up his game at a time when it mattered most as he sank a three-pointer with time running out to give the Beech Grove Hornets a thrilling 42-40 win over the Western Panthers Saturday afternoon at the Richard R. Rea Gymnasium in Russiaville, IN.
With his team trailing 40-39 with 4.8 seconds remaining, Curry, who led the Hornets in scoring (12 points), rebounds (4) and assists (3), nailed his game-winner from the top of the key as Beech Grove won its 14th game in 19 outings.
In a contest in which Beech Grove led by nine in the first quarter (13-4), the host Panthers did not fold. In fact, they had trailed the entire ball game until the third quarter, when the champions of the Hoosier Athletic Conference’s Eastern Division went on a 9-0 run to lead 32-27 at the end of three quarters.
Down 34-29, Beech Grove rallied when senior Jorden “Juice” Murphy nailed the first of two three-pointers from deep in the corner on the left-hand side of the court, which brought it to within 34-32. After a baseline jumper by the Panthers’ Kyle Sanders made the score 36-32, perhaps the turning point of the game came with 4:21 remaining in the final quarter when Western’s Evan Kretz made a bucket that would have given his team a six-point lead at 38-32. However, that basket was nullified when the junior was called for an offensive foul. This set the stage for Murphy, who then knocked down the second of his treys to bring the Orange and Black to within one at 36-35. Then Gavin Mitchell gave Beech Grove its first lead since the third quarter with a jumper from just inside the three-point arc to make it 37-36.
Following two made free throws by Kretz, giving Western a 38-37 advantage, Curry made another jumper from the left side of the court with 54.3 seconds to go to put the Hornets out in front 39-38. Then senior Nathaniel Liddell, who had a game-high 13 points, made a shot in the lane to give the host Panthers a 40-39 edge. The best was still yet to come.
On Beech Grove’s next possession, Curry had the ball stolen away by Western senior Cooper Jarvis, who was fouled by the Hornet point guard with 5.8 seconds to play. Jarvis missed the front end of a one-and-one, Murphy corralled the defensive rebound, and the Hornets called their final timeout with 4.8 seconds left on the game clock.
Sophomore Jeremiah Alexander threw the inbounds pass into Curry from the left side of the court, three-quarters of the length of the floor from the basket. The senior rushed the ball up the floor, then launched his game-winning shot behind the three-point line almost dead center towards the basket. The shot found nothing but net, time ran out, and the Beech Grove fans who were in attendance went delirious as the Hornets won their second game in as many days.
Mitchell scored 10 points while Murphy tallied eight for victorious Beech Grove. Kretz added 10 and Sanders scored nine for Western (15-6).
Saturday’s game was somewhat of a homecoming for Beech Grove City Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Kaiser, who was one of the fans in attendance. Kaiser, a former Cathedral High School basketball standout, spent three years as an assistant boys basketball coach at the now-closed Kokomo Haworth High School and four years as boys basketball head coach at Eastern High School in Greentown during the 1980s, both of which are in Howard County, which is also the home of Western High School. It also marked the first time ever that Beech Grove had faced a Howard County school in boys basketball.
Coach Mike Renfro’s Hornets will be back in action this Friday night when Whiteland comes calling to the Matt English Court at “The Hive” in the regular season finale. It will also be Senior Night, where all of the senior players and cheerleaders will be honored in between the junior varsity and varsity contests. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.