GREENTOWN — Tipton’s inside play was just too strong for Eastern on Tuesday night.
The trio of Ben Humrichous, Nate Powell and Noah Wolfe combined to knock down 23 of 30 field goals inside the arc and score 60 points to lead the Blue Devils’ boys basketball team to a 74-45 victory over the Comets.
“Really proud of how the players responded,” Tipton coach Cliff Hawkins said, referring to Saturday’s 66-61 loss at Kokomo when the Devils blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead. “We had a sense of urgency, we were hungry. We knew they were too because they had lost five in row, so it was our will against their will on their court. There was a lot of mental strength that I saw [Tuesday] night.”
Humrichous missed all five of his 3-point attempts but was 11 of 13 from inside the paint and converted 2 of 3 free throws to finish with a game-high 24 points. He also pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds, blocked eight shots, dished out four assists and had three steals.
Powell followed with a career-high 20 points, coming on 8-of-11 shooting from the field and 4 of 7 from the line. The 6-foot-3 sophomore also recorded a double-double pulling down 10 rebounds. Wolfe added 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
“He does so much,” Hawkins said of Powell. “He’s getting better with his decision making. His teammates love him and how he plays and thought it showed tonight.”
Levi Mavrick’s 3-pointer gave Eastern its only lead of the game, 7-6, at the 4:34 mark of the first quarter. Powell and Wolfe combined to score eight straight points to put Tipton up 14-7. Mavrick’s second 3 of the quarter had the Comets within 16-14 but Sam Edwards banked in a runner just before the buzzer to give Tipton an 18-14 advantage at the end of the first period.
Evan Monize’s two free throws cut the lead to 18-16 to start the second period. But Tipton (14-4) outscored Eastern 17-7 the rest of the quarter. Humrichous had six points and Powell had eight, including an offensive tap-in at the buzzer to give the Blue Devils a 35-23 lead.
“Powell stepped up and had a big game for them,” Eastern coach Mike Springer said. “He was a difference maker in the first half. He had 14 points in the first half.
Tipton used a 15-4 run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Cory Vonfeldt and was capped by Humrichous’ basket inside to stretch the Devil lead to 50-27 with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter. Evan Monize’s bucket cut the lead to 52-33.
The Comets (7-10) then opened up the fourth quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers by Brayden Richmond and Drew Monize to pull within 52-33. But Tipton responded.
Humrichous converted a three-point play and then slammed home a miss by Sam Edwards. Wolfe’s 3-pointer less than 2 minutes later pushed Tipton’s lead to 63-40 with 4:37 remaining in the game. The Blue Devils continued to pull away with Humrichous turning a spin move along the baseline into a crowd-pleasing one-handed dunk.
“Things got away from us late in the fourth quarter but we missed some easy shots midway through the second quarter,” Springer said. “Humrichous is a load to try to guard anyways and he hit some big baskets. [The lead] got spread there 10 or 12 at the half and it was catch up.
“We fought back into the game and got it within 13 there in the fourth quarter but we just ran out of gas. It was a hard, physical game. It always is when you play Tipton. It’s the nature of the game. They’ve got a good ball team. They bounced back from a tough one on Saturday and Powell just had a big game and made a big difference.”
Evan Monize finished with 12 points and six rebounds to lead the Comets, who were playing without senior guard Matt Arcari. Arcari injured his wrist in the loss to Rossville. Austin Roberts also scored in double figures for Eastern with 11 points and had four rebounds. Mavrick added nine points.
Tipton is idle until next Tuesday when the Devils travel to Oak Hill. Eastern, meanwhile, will look to snap a six-game losing streak at winless Elwood on Friday.