Unranked Ben Davis Outlasts Fort Wayne North Side for Big School Crown
Down as many as nine points and shooting just over 30 percent from the floor in the first half, it looked like Ben Davis’ magical postseason ride was going to end. But the Giants weren’t ready to go quietly.
Finding its shooting touch in the second half and taking control down the stretch, Ben Davis knocked off fourth-ranked Fort Wayne North Side 55-52 for its third state title – and first in 21 years. It was the third win of a team ranked eighth or higher in the postseason for the unranked Giants, who ended the season on a 14-game win streak.
With the game tied at 46 with 3:12 left, the Giants’ Jalen Windham knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer. After a Legends’ miss, R.J. Turner was fouled, hit his first free throw and then rebounded his own miss and laid the ball up, giving the Giants a 52-46 lead with 1:19 left.
Fort Wayne North would get within 54-52 with 18 second left, but Josh Brewer hit a free throw to give the Giants a three-point lead, and the Legends missed a 3 at the buzzer.
Windham led the Giants (23-5) with 15 points, while Datrion Harper added 14 and Aaron Henry 10. Jaylen Butz and Juan Quarles scored 11 points apiece for the Legends. Butz also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
Fort Wayne North Side (27-3) was able to extend a 13-9 lead after one quarter to 25-16 with 3:13 left in the half. But the Giants sandwiched a pair of Henry baskets around a Windham 3-pointer to close the half on a 7-2 run, creeping within 27-23 at the break.
The Giants scored the first five points of the third quarter to take their first lead of the game since 2-0. The teams traded the lead five more times the rest of the way before Ben Davis’ closing run.
The Mark James-coached Giants were making their first state finals appearance since winning back-to-back state championships in 1995 and ’96. Fort Wayne North Side, coached by Shabaz Khaliq, ended an even longer finals drought, advancing to the final game for the first time since a runner-up finish in 1965.
The state championship was the first for James, now in his 35th year coaching Indiana high school basketball.
Class 4A State Championship Records
Ben Davis’ Robert (RJ) Turner III named Trester Mental Attitude Award Recipient
Following the game, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named RJ Turner of Ben Davis High School as the winner of the Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award in Class 4A Boys Basketball.
The award is annually presented to a senior participant in the state finals who best demonstrates mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability and is nominated by his principal and coach.
RJ has a long list of impressive achievements in athletics and in his community. He was named team captain of the Ben Davis Giants basketball team for 2016-17 season. He also participated in golf, where he was a sectional medalist and a regional qualifier for three years. In his community, RJ has volunteered at Helping Hands Freedom, Ben Davis Youth Basketball camp, 1st Tee Youth Golf Program, and Special Olympics.
He is the son of Maria and Robert Turner of Indianapolis. RJ will be attending Franklin College on a golf scholarship and intends to major in accounting.
The 4A, 3A and 2A awards are named in honor of the late Arthur L. Trester who served as first commissioner of the Association from 1929 to 1944. Trester helped Indiana high school sports and the IHSAA emerge from the Great Depression in a position of preeminence unmatched by perhaps any other state in the nation.
The Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever, the presenting sponsor of the IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament, presented a $1,000 scholarship to Ben Davis High School in the name of Robert Turner III. Since 1989, more than $840,000 in college scholarships have been presented to deserving high school athletes in Indiana.