Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Dakota Barkley of Churubusco drives into Jacob Thompson of Eastside, 1st quarter, Friday.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Brayton Bonar of Churubusco draws a foul on his shot from Jacob Thompson of Eastside, 1st quarter, Friday.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Dakota Barkley of Churubusco, center, battles for rebound position with Cade Willard of Eastside, 1st quarter, Friday.
Friday, February 24, 2017 8:19 pm
Churubusco makes Eastside settle for share of NECC title
JOSH PATTERSON | For The Journal Gazette
With Eastside looking to close out a NECC championship all to itself, Churubusco stuck a Foote in the door.
Eagle senior Luke Foote stepped up with 16 points on Senior Night at Churubusco, lifting the hosts to a 63-52 victory over the Blazers Friday.
“To come out and play like we did, all our hard work paid off,” Foote said. “I loved it. There’s been some games this season we’ve let go and let them come back.
“For us to finish this game out, it meant a lot to us. We wanted to prove that we’re pretty good too.”
The loss snapped a school-record 10-game winning streak for Eastside (18-4, 9-2 NECC), who will share the regular-season title with Westview. Churubusco (14-8, 8-3) finished a game back in league play, joining Fremont and Angola in a three-way tie for third.
The Eagles scored the final five points of the first quarter to take a 14-10 lead after eight minutes. Eastside would eventually draw within two points, getting a basket inside from Jacob Thompson at the 7:22 mark of the third, but Churubusco’s zone defense proved frustrating for the Blazers.
That frustration developed in two forms – standout guard Aaron Dean saddled with early foul trouble, coupled with a resistance to attack the holes in the zone.
“I thought we were really passive tonight,” Eastside coach Ryan Abbott said. “We knew we were going to get their best shot. They made us match their intensity on their senior night. Good for them, bad for us.”
A bit of uneven officiating kept both sides uneasy as well, as Abbott said.
“It was hard to adjust to the way the game was officiated,” Abbott said. “They called tight early, it got loose for a while and then it tightened back up. Our guys need to do a little better job of being mature and adjusting to that, but with that said, it was very unpredictable as well.”
While Foote scored a number of key baskets, fellow senior Jalen Paul showed up plenty on the stat sheet too, draining six 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 29 points. Dakota Barkley added 10 for the Eagles.
Eastside saw three players finish in double figures – Cade Willard (17), Thompson (12) and Caleb Ballentine (10).
Churubusco coach Chris Paul also heaped praise on Foote’s effort, explaining he’s sometimes overlooked on a team that features a pair of players averaging over 20 points per game in Jalen Paul and Barkley.
“I don’t ever take him out,” Paul said. "He makes really good decisions, and tonight he stepped up and showed he can do other things than just stand out there and shoot threes.”
It’s a quick turnaround off a disappointing performance for the Blazers with the postseason looming next week. But maybe that’s not the worst thing following a record-setting year for Eastside. In addition to the winning streak, the 18 regular-season wins is the most in school history.
“We had a couple key breakdowns, and we have to do a better job,” Abbott said. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of success, but I think this does a good job of refocusing us.”