The Lafayette Jefferson Bronchos took down previously undefeated Fishers, 68-65 (OT). Brooks Barnhizer led all scorers with 29.

Lafayette Jeff Takes Down Undefeated Fishers, 68-65 (OT)

John Terhune l Journal & Courier


To win a road basketball game, a team needs to be more disciplined and more resilient than their opponent. On Tuesday night, sixth-ranked Lafayette Jeff checked off both boxes on their way to 68-65 overtime win over fourth-ranked Fishers.

 

The top-10 showdown lived up to its billing. Both teams played extremely well, and neither team was able to break away for a significant lead. Fishers’ biggest lead was at 10-4 in the opening minutes of the first quarter. Sophomores Jeffrey Simmons and Charlie Turner led the way for the Tigers as they got to the rim with ease.

 

That’s when Brooks Barnhizer took over.

 

The junior forward stole the spotlight Tuesday night. His 10 points in the first quarter helped mount a 12-4 run that put the Bronchos ahead, 16-14, at the end of the first quarter. Barnhizer would nearly match his season high with 29 points as he shouldered the load for a Bronchos team that finished well below their season average of 77.9 points per game.

 

Every time Fishers looked like they were on the verge of taking control of the game, Lafayette Jeff answered with a run of their own. After Fishers gained a 34-33 lead early in the third quarter, the Bronchos went on a 12-3 run to take a 45-37 lead into the fourth quarter. When Simmons capped off a three-point play to put Fishers back in front late in the game, Lafayette Jeff would outscore the Tigers 8-5 to force overtime.

 

With the game’s fate teetering in the balance, the Bronchos were the more resilient team. Senior G Avery Beaver came alive in the second half after only scoring five in the first half. Beaver dropped 16 points in the final 20 minutes, including some clutch three-pointers at the end of regulation and overtime. Brooks older brother, senior G Braxton Barnhizer, didn’t have his best performance but still finished with 12 points.

 

Brooks credited the team’s ability to stay calm when the game was on the line. His father, head coach Mark Barnhizer, was proud of his team’s ability to be the grittier team down the stretch.

 

“We were playing kind of short-handed a little bit. We gritted it out. Avery Beaver made some big baskets. Brooks made some plays and we were just able to hang on,” Mark Barnhizer said.

 

The game was decided by second-half turnovers and free throws. After turning the ball over four times in the first half, Fishers coughed up the ball 11 times throughout second half and overtime. The Tigers got a very friendly whistle in overtime, but they only converted four of nine free throws in the extra period.

 

Brooks was a big reason for Fishers’ carelessness with the ball in the second half. He blocked several shots that led to fast-break opportunities for his teammates. When the final buzzer sounded, there was no doubt he was the best two-way player on the floor Tuesday night.

 

“He’s the most underrated kid in the state. People don’t know how good he is,” coach Barnhizer said about his son, Brooks.

 

Performances like tonight will only continue to put Brooks on the map for the rest of his high school career. And a win over previously undefeated Fishers will breed confidence in a Lafayette Jeff team that’s poised to go on a deep tournament run in March.

 

 

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