HENRYVILLE — Host Henryville staved off a late rally by Rock Creek, capturing a 46-42 win in the season-opener for both Tuesday night at Furnish Gymnasium.
The Lions entered the fourth quarter trailing by nine, 36-27, but quickly got back in it behind senior forward Kevin Meyer and freshman guard Ladarius Wallace. Meyer scored on three consecutive possessions for Rock Creek, and Wallace's 3-pointer with just over four minutes remaining in the contest tied the score at 38.
The left-handed freshman scored on a driving layup to give Rock Creek its first lead since early in the second quarter moments later. There would be two more lead changes before Henryville guard Austin Contreras drove the baseline and fed Logan Owens near the basket for a short jumper just over a minute later to give the Hornets a 43-42 lead.
Contreras made a steal and basket after driving the length of the court to seal the contest with 14.4 seconds remaining.
"Last year, he kind of got thrown to the wolves, but he learned a lot, and he played great," said Henryville coach Jared Hill of Contreras, who finished with eight points. "That play he made at the end of the game, that was a big-boy play. He was huge."
Junior Westin Allen led all scorers with 16 points. He picked up his fourth foul with 6:21 remaining as he battled Meyer for a rebound but stayed in the game, hitting a big 3-pointer to give Henryville a 41-40 lead with 2:26 left.
"We let them back in the game, and we didn't shoot free throws well," said Hill, whose team was 13 for 23 from the foul line. "But Rock Creek is athletic and active, they're going to win a bunch of games."
Rock Creek coach Chris Brown expressed some dismay over his squad's first-half performance and the fact that the Lions found themselves in foul trouble as well. Rock Creek committed 13 turnovers in the first half and was whistled for 21 fouls.
Still, the Lions found themselves in it at the end. Something, Brown said, his youthful squad can build off of.
"That first half, it was one of the worst halves of basketball I've been involved in in coaching," he said. "It could have been easy for us to hang our heads, but we battled back and gave ourselves a chance. Going forward we'll learn from that."
Wallace equaled Meyer's 12 points to lead the Lions.
"He's going to be special," Brown said of the freshman. "His, and our, best basketball, I think, are ahead of us."
The Lions (0-1) are back in action at noon Saturday, when they face Class 2A power Southwestern in the first round of the Loughmiller Classic at Loogootee.
Henryville (1-0), meanwhile, is off until Dec. 6, when it hosts Paoli.