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Unbeaten Zionsville rolling after big opening win

Class 4A No. 7 Eagles host Kokomo Friday on FM 107.5 and 1070 AM

Entering this season, Zionsville’s last boys basketball win over Carmel came on Feb. 6, 2010. After that, the Greyhounds reeled off 10 straight victories in the series, by an average margin of 14 points.

Facing Class 4A No. 4 Carmel in this year’s season opener, Zionsville reversed history with a 68-62 home-court triumph that provided the springboard for the Eagles’ current 5-0 start.

“It’s good any time you can beat a team and program as good as theirs, in a game I didn’t think we were as prepared as we needed to be,” said Zionsville coach Shaun Busick, whose squad is up to No. 7 in this week’s rankings. “It’s a tough opener because there’s still so much work to do. It isn’t easy, so we were very excited.”

Junior point guard Isaiah Thompson – who has offers from Purdue and Butler – had 26 points against Carmel, and is averaging 22.6 points and 3.4 assists.

“He has made some huge strides,” Busick said. “When you’re one of the best players in the state, it’s hard for people to see that improvement because you’re already pretty good, but we’ve seen it. He’s stronger, quicker, faster, and he’s improved his passing, shooting, ball-handling and defense – literally everything, and it’s made us a much better team.”

With 15.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest, junior wing Nathan Childress has also taken his game to a higher level, including a seven-dunk performance in Saturday’s 83-57 victory over Anderson.

“You don’t see that too often, especially from a kid playing the 3-spot,” Busick said. “We moved him from the 4, and we’ve gotten a lot bigger, with him evolving from a post guy to a wing.”

Four-year starter Riley Bertram (11.8 ppg) - a Michigan baseball commit - remains the team’s rock.

“He’s started from Day 1, a very big part of our program,” Busick said. “In 25 years, he’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever coached – brings it every night, has the respect of his teammates. He’d be good at anything he does.”

Also in the mix this year are seniors Will Alcock (6.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Mark Stemme (3.6 ppg), junior Hogan Orbaugh (3.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and sophomore Anthony Scales (5.8 ppg).

Zionsville – the two-time defending Hoosier Crossroads Conference champ – last won a sectional title in 1995, and this year again provides a stiff challenge with McCutcheon (and Indiana commit Robert Phinisee), Lafayette Jeff and Logansport, teams with a current combined record of 18-3.

“We’re just trying to get better each day. We haven’t set our sights on a championship in conference or the sectional,” said Busick, whose team was eliminated by McCutcheon the past two years. “Those things will be byproducts of us getting better each day. Our kids have really bought into that mindset, understanding this is a journey of learning and growth.”

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