The familiar faces of Ryan Cline and Keegan Culp have graduated from Carmel, but junior guard Sterling Brown stepped up in the season opener. His 21 points pushed Carmel to the 57-53 victory against a young Zionsville team.
It's not everyday that two-thirds of a Big Ten basketball team shows up for a high school game. That is what happened Tuesday night when Purdue's PJ Thompson, Ryan Cline, Vince Edwards, Basil Smotherman, Dakota Mathias, Kendall Stephens and Grady Eifert showed up. They were there for Isaiah Thompson's – brother of PJ - first start as a freshman.
The 2019 guard scored a quick five points in the opening minutes giving Zionsville an early lead. The Zionsville lead reached 15-7 in the first quarter before Carmel started to chop away. Senior forward Preston Flamion was the spark of the comeback. Flamion scored nine points in the first period.
The game was plagued from start to finish with fouls. The official scorebook had 49 fouls at the end of the game. In recent years, this would be the advantage of Carmel with guys like Ryan Cline and Michael Volovic knocking down free throws at a high rate. Carmel players not named Sterling Brown were only 10 of 18 against Zionsville. Luckily for Carmel, Brown went 10 of 11 from the stripe.
“I had a stress fracture in my leg, so for two months I was just out shooting free throws,” said Sterling Brown. “That's all I've done up until now, so I feel pretty confident going to the line and knocking them down.”
Carmel was able to open up a lead in the third quarter thanks to its defense and the play of Sterling Brown. He played better as the game went along.
Zionsville turned up the heat in the fourth quarter. Former Carmel player Dominic Genco was a part of the fourth period scouring outburst. He scored a majority of his 13 points in the final stanza.
“He (Genco) absolutely did and he played at Carmel last year as a junior varsity player and that was tough for him,” said Zionsville head coach Shaun Busick. “I thought he handled the chants and stuff very well.”
Isaiah Thompson also picked up the pace in the fourth quarter. The Carmel defense made it tough on the freshman after he scored five early points. Thompson was able to score 12 points in the fourth period on his way to a team-high 19 points.
“He's a special talent and as good of freshman as I've ever coached,” said Shaun Busick.
Sterling Brown sealed the game with a late steal and lay-up. The Greyhounds held off the late rally by Zionsville to win 57-53.
Carmel does not return to the court until December 4 at Lawrence Central. Zionsville also is off until December 4 when they play at Westfield.