By SAM KING, Journal & Courier
The game-changing play was a simple screen for the shooter.
As Avery Denhart’s 3 trickled through the net, Luke Fusiek was knocked backwards while providing separation for his teammate.
Fusiek’s two ensuing free throws completed a five-point play with 5:18 to go and was the difference in Class A No. 2 Central Catholic’s 70-65 victory over Frankfort in the fifth-place game of the J&C Hoops Classic.
“That one was a dagger in the heart. It was a big turning point for them momentum-wise,” Frankfort coach Jared Catron said. “That’s a tough situation to recover from, especially against a good team like Central Catholic.”
It was part of a huge second half for Fusiek, who went on a 7-0 run by himself in a 1:02 stretch during the second quarter to tie the game.
Fusiek scored 12 points in the third and finished with 25.
“That all led from good rebounding and getting the ball up the court,” said Fusiek, who twice scored on layups by beating Hot Dog defenders down the court. “The ball kept coming to me and I kept scoring.”
It was the second gritty victory in three days for the Knights (2-1) and came with Frankfort senior Jarrod Smith blanketing CC point guard Jackson Anthrop.
Anthrop was held to four points, but the Knights got a lift off the bench from Thomas Gothard and Tyler Powers, who combined for eight points. Denhart scored 14 to go with seven rebounds. Ben Tharp added 11 points, with nine coming in the first half and Jacob Page scored six of his eight points in the fourth quarter, all coming after CC seized momentum with the five-point play.
“In the second half, Luke started getting loose and hitting shots and kind of put us on his back there. … ” CC coach Dave Barrett said. “That (five-point play) was a huge play. Avery knocked it down and the kid ran through Luke. Who knows if it was the right call or not, but it was the call and we’ll take it.”
In addition to stellar defense, Smith led Frankfort with 31 points. Carter Taylor scored 23 points and had a game-high nine rebounds for the Hot Dogs, who suffered theirsecond tough loss of the tournament.
“The guys’ effort was tremendous. This whole week was a great effort and we lost against some good teams,” Catron said. “These guys have to walk away from this week with a positive attitude. Next week we get Tri-West and Kokomo, so we don’t have time to sulk in the pity.”