Indianapolis – Marquis Teague and Pike found a way to do something to Bloomington South that no one has done all season.
Well, at least for one quarter.
Teague scored 12 of his 19 points in the first quarter to keep Pike within three, 21-18. But that's when South found an answer and proceeded to steamroll the Red Devils, 75-50.
With the win, the top-ranked Panthers improved to 14-0 overall and 5-0 in Conference Indiana and all but wrapped up the conference championship. Pike, meanwhile, lost for just the second time in seven games to fall to 8-5 and 4-1 in league play.
Unable to combat Teague's ability to penetrate, South did something they virtually never do – they abandoned their man-to-man defense for a 2-3 zone at the start of the second quarter. The move worked wonders, slowing down Teague and allowing the Panthers to race past the Red Devils.
"That was good coaching strategy by Coach (Criss) Beyers and Coach (J.R.) Holmes to slow Teague down a little bit," Jordan Hulls said. "He still got to the bucket somehow, but we slowed him down, they didn't hit as many open shots, and we were able to get some leaks out and get some layups and break their press."
While the zone was a big part of South's success, so was the play of Hulls, who starred in front of a near capacity crowd. The IU-bound guard scored a game-high 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go along with five rebounds and six assists. Eleven of his points came in the third quarter when South turned a 10-point halftime lead into a 17-point cushion and Pike never again threatened.
"For him to step up and play that way was huge for us," said sophomore Spencer Turner, who added 12 points. "He could do it every game if he wanted to."
On Friday they needed to Hulls to come up big, and he did exactly that in a high-profile, televised game that should do wonders for his Mr. Basketball chances. Hulls knocked down a 3-pointer and then followed that up with a pinpoint pass to center Erik Fromm for a layup that turned a two-point second quarter South lead into a seven-point margin. He then took over the game in the third quarter with his 11-point outburst.
"I was just trying to go out there and play my hardest and get other guys involved and do whatever it takes to win," Hulls said.
Hulls did that, and in the process clearly frustrated Teague. The Pike sophomore was dominant early with his ability to get in the lane and either finish or set up his teammates, but once the South zone took his ability to penetrate away the Pike offense came to virtual standstill.
"I know Teague can hit 3s too, but what he does the best is drive it, and we took that away and that's how I think we won the game," Turner said.
Teague eventually fouled out midway through the fourth quarter and picked up a technical for disputing the call with the referees on his way off the court. By that point the game was well out of hand, as South opened a 75-41 lead before Pike scored the game's final nine points.
The win showed that South is not only deserving of its No. 1 ranking, but that it's able to be pushed by a foe – if even for only a quarter – and find a way to come out on top. That will come in handy once they get into the state tournament and make their push for a state title.
"I think we need tough games like that so we know what it's like," Turner said. "We can't keep on winning games by 30 or 40 or 50 and then come out in sectionals and play a good team and have a close game and not know what it's like and not know what to do in a tough situation and lose the game. This game helps us that way."
Hulls, No. 1 South In the Zone Against Pike
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