Coming off two losses in last week’s Johnson County Tournament, the Indian Creek boys basketball team looked to rebound as it returned to conference play Friday night.
Instead, the Braves find themselves on a three-game losing streak, with the toughest part of their schedule ahead of them.
A last-second 3-point attempt by Kyler Schrougham hit the back of the rim, and host Southwestern (Shelby) escaped with a 57-55 Mid-Hoosier Conference win against the Braves.
Indian Creek (8-5, 4-1 MHC) trailed 45-36 early in the fourth quarter before its defense sparked a rally. Using a full-court press, the Braves forced a frenetic pace and charged back into the game on a 15-5 run.
Matthew Wray collected a wrap-around pass from Cameron Smith and laid it in to give Indian Creek a 51-50 lead with 3:37 to play.
The next three minutes featured five lead changes and one tie.
The Spartans broke the 55-all tie when junior Logan Laughlin got free on the baseline and scored with 10 seconds to play. Following a time, out the Braves could only get Schrougham’s contested look from behind the arc before time expired.
It was a game that seemed to get away for the Braves. They hit 25 of 47 field-goal attempts (53.2 percent) and turned the ball over just 11 times for the game. But defensive lapses in the third quarter and uncharacteristically poor free throw shooting doomed them.
The Braves hit only five of 13 free throws, including four misses in the fourth quarter. They also failed to hit a 3-pointer in six attempts.
Southwestern, meanwhile, knocked down 12 of 15 free throws, including seven of eight during a 15-6 run in the third quarter.
Coach Derek Perry bemoaned the Braves’ inability to play consistent defense.
“That’s the way it’s been the last few games,” he said. “We can get the score, but then we let them score right back. Stringing two stops in a row together in a two-point game like this is very important.
“What we did for the last eight minutes of the game, we have to do in the first quarter and the second quarter.”
Junior Austin Smith led the Braves with 19 points and six rebounds. Wray added 10 points.
Senior Andrew Messer led the Spartans (5-8, 2-2) with 15 points, including three first half 3-pointers. Bryce Rowe scored 13 points, and Evan Adkins added 11, all in the second half.
Indian Creek continues its tough stretch tonight when it travels to Class 2A No. 5 Speedway.