By MIKE RILEY
JEFFERSONVILLE — The Jeffersonville Red Devils entered the game on Saturday against Providence in a position they haven't been in very often, if at all.
Jeff had dropped four in a row and obviously didn't want to see the streak go to five.
Drew Ellis saw that it didn't — with a little help from his “family.”
Being asked to run the point on Saturday, the 6-foot-3 senior scored 26 points, including three of his five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, as the Red Devils turned back Providence 61-51 at Johnson Arena.
"I was feeling good tonight," Ellis said. “My teammates were all moving, letting me run the point and we weren't making turnovers. And a big thing, we we're getting stops. They made a run at us in the second half and we got it together and made it work."
According to Jeffersonville coach Matt Pait, he knew it was coming.
"Drew walked around all day with a smirk on his face," Pait said. "I asked him, 'Are you going to drop 30 tonight or what?’ And he just kept on smiling.
"I'm not going to call Drew a point guard, but when times are tough, we'll go to him. I thought Chad Hudson and Keenan Williams did a great job as well when they were in there, as well as Tyrise Major. Tonight it was point guard by committee."
Providence trailed only 42-39 entering the fourth quarter. Freshman Juston Betz hit a 3-pointer to tie the game. Ellis and Hudson then drilled back-to-back 3s for Jeff to build the lead to six. Grant Goad of Providence was then fouled trying a 3 and made all three free throws to pull the Pioneers to within three again.
Ben Shahroudi then stole the ball from Ellis at midcourt, went in for a layup and it was a 1-point game.
Many players may have been down on themselves after the turnover. Not Ellis. Not this night anyway.
Ellis drained a 3 from the left wing and was fouled by former Jeff/GRC World Series teammate Brad Koerner. He hit the free throw and the lead was back at five.
Goad then hit 2 of 2 at the line for Providence to cut the lead to three, then, you guessed it, Ellis knocked down another 3 to push the lead back to six with 2:40 left. Nick Hayes scored to cut the lead to four at 55-51 with 2:02 left.
Yet another 3 by Ellis and an Ellis putback of a Leonard Kwitonda to put the game on ice.
"That four point play was big," Pait said. "That helped seal it.”
Jeff was playing just its second game without the services of Myles Harvey, who was dismissed from the team earlier in the week. Jeff dropped a 71-70 decision at Floyd Central on Friday.
"That's a tough loss for us,” Pait said of Harvey’s absence. "I'm not happy about it, but you have to move on. Tonight we had some guys step up and I think we took a step in the right direction."
"He was a great player for us who made a bad decision," Ellis added. "It may have affected us a little bit last night. We're a family and when you lose a family member, it hurts. But you have to move forward."
Hudson finished with 10 points. Kwitonda added nine points and led the Red Devils with seven rebounds.
Goad led Providence and was the only Pioneer in double-figures with 17 points. Goad had 10 points in the first quarter, as did Ellis. But Jeff turned a 16-15 first quarter deficit into a 30-23 halftime advantage.
"We were up 16-10, then it was 16-15 and the momentum was gone," Providence coach Louis Lefevre said. "We scored enough points to win the game, but defensively we had no recognition as to where their scorers were or what we had to do to stop them.
"Ellis … got to go anywhere he wanted to go and he got shots. Taking nothing from him, but we've seen him for three years now and you would think as the game goes on somebody would recognize and make him try to do something he didn't want to do. That's what defense is."
Ah, defense. According to Pait, that's why his lineup was shuffled somewhat tonight.
"It had nothing to with [ Harvey’s absence]," Pait said. "I put what I thought was our best defensive lineup on the floor to start the game. I'm trying to get through to some guys that it's not all about scoring points. We opened in a zone tonight and they hit a couple of 3s, but then after we adjusted I thought we did a pretty good job."
Providence will return to action on Tuesday when it hosts sectional-rival Crawford County. Jeffersonville is idle until Saturday when it returns to Hoosier Hills Conference action against Columbus East.
"I'm proud of the way we responded tonight after losing back-to-back to New Albany and Floyd Central," Pait said.
"The team that won tonight should have won," Lefevre said. "We have to perform better."
JEFFERSONVILLE 61, PROVIDENCE 51
Providence 16 7 16 12—51
Jeffersonville 15 15 12 19—61
Providence (7-3): Grant Goad 17, Juston Betz 6, Ben Shahroudi 3, Brad Koerner 6, Dawson Mitchell 0, Nick Hayes 8, Daniel Schuler 6, Brock Hayden 3, Tre Watson 2, Alex Judd 0.
Jeffersonville (7-5) Drew Ellis 26, Demarre Sims 5, C.J.Lambus 0, Leonard Kwitonda 9, Dionte Allen 4, Chandler Dale 5, Tyrise Major 0, Kennan Williams 2, Chad Hudson 10.
3-point field goals: Providence 4 (Betz 2, Goad, Hayden); Jeffersonville 9 (Ellis 5, Hudson 2, Sims, Kwitonda).
Rebounds: Providence 20 (Shahroudi 4); Jeffersonville 28 (Kwitonda 7).
Turnovers: Providence 12, Jeffersonville 11
Free throws: Providence 9-13, Jeffersonville 2--3
Junior varsity: Jeffersonville 41, Providence 35.