MISHAWAKA — The Adams Eagles put on a clinic in full-court defense Saturday in the title game of the Class 4A Mishawaka Sectional boys basketball tournament.
And the Penn Kingsmen still may not know what hit them.
Although Penn would creep to within eight with just under three minutes to play, this one was actually decided early, as Adams raced to a 21 point halftime advantage and defeated Penn for the sectional title for the second straight year by posting a 93-71 victory.
The Eagles, now 21-2, advance to face Warsaw in the Michigan City Regional.
“We just didn't handle their full-court pressure on our ball handlers and it seemed like every one of our turnovers led to points,” Penn coach Al Rhodes said. “But you have to give Adams and coach (Milt) Cooper credit. They had an excellent game plan and executed it to perfection. They were certainly very impressive.”
Adams was most impressive early, as the Eagles forced eight Penn turnovers in the first quarter, hit nine of their 14 shots — including three 3-pointers — and raced to a 29-13 advantage after the first quarter.
This against a Penn team that had won eight straight — including a 62-55 victory over Adams on Feb. 1.
“In the first game, I thought we were more patient and did a much better job against their pressure,” Rhodes said. “While the setting at Adams was tough, I think this being a sectional title game made the setting much tougher. And when you let a team as good as Adams get on a roll, it's really tough.”
With guards Joe Beard and Michael Bush controlling the tempo of the game both offensively and defensively, the Eagles continued to roll in the middle quarters, taking a 62-43 lead into the final eight minutes.
In addition, Penn's Austin Torres, a Notre Dame signee, was in deep foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul with 3:53 to play. He would eventually foul out with a charging foul with 5:19 to play in the game.
But the Adams' victory celebration was put on hold for awhile, as the determined Kingsmen made a run at a miracle comeback.
Still trailing by 20 with 3:30 to play, Penn senior guard Conner Sowders hit a 3-pointer and then nailed three free throws after being fouled while attempting another trey. Christian Wittendorf, the hero of Friday's win over Clay, then hit a short jumper to cut the lead to 76-64.
After Beard hit one-of-two free throws, sophomore guard Jordan Geist — who had an outstanding game — hit back-to-back layups and suddenly it was an eight point game with 2:35 to play and Cooper was forced to call a timeout.
That's when the Kingsmen momentum ended.
Coming out of the timeout, Adams ran a perfect out-of-bounds play, finding a streaking Beard for a layup on the other end. Ryan Lutz would hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to eight once again, but the Eagles scored the final 14 points of the game to clinch their second straight sectional championship.
“I give our kids a ton of credit for the way they fought in the second half,” Rhodes said. “We talked at halftime about how there was plenty of time left, even though we were down 21. Our kids listened and battled all night. I'm very proud of that.”
Geist would finish with 25 points to lead Penn, finishing 9-13 from the field and 8-9 from the charity stripe. Wittendorf and Conner Sowders each added 15, while Torres had 11.
Beard was a monster for Adams, scoring 25 points and dishing out 10 assists, many going to junior center Terry Davis, who also had 25 points. Bush came off the bench to score 15 and add eight assists for the Eagles.
Class 4A Mishawaka Sectional
SB Adams 93, Penn 71
Penn — Jordan Geist 9-13 8-8 25, Cory Kreiger 1-3 2-2 4, Austin Torres 5-9 1-6 11, Conner Sowders 5-14 3-3 15, Christian Wittendorf 7-11 0-1 15, Mikey Szrom 0-0 0-0 0, Nate Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Lutz 0-5 0-0 0, Billy Doslak 0-4 3-4 3, Matt Chaffee 0-0 0-0 0.
Adams — Juwan Johnson 15, Terry Davis 25, Joe Beard 25, Jalen White 5, A.J. Glick 2, Stevie Thomas 0, Michael Bush 15, Mike Bishop 2, Demar Wright 0, J.T. Gavin 0, Greg Williams 2.
Scoring By Quarters
Penn 13 10 20 28 — 71
Adams 29 15 18 31 — 93
Turnovers: Penn 22, Adams 14.
Fouls: Penn 25, Adams 23. Fouled out — Torres, Geist, Kreiger, White. Technicals — Penn bench.
Records: Adams 21-2, Penn 17-5.
Next: Warsaw vs. SB Adams, Merrillville vs. Munster, Saturday, March 9, in semifinals of Class 4A Michigan City Regional, 11 a.m. ET and following; championship, 8:30 p.m.