At long last, a buzzer sounded.
Twenty-three days after Twin Lakes was scheduled to open its boys basketball season, the Indians finally walked on — and off — the court for the first time. Twin Lakes seemingly took out nearly four weeks of angst and buildup on an undermanned Elwood team with a 66-34 victory.
The win also marked head coach Kent Adams’ 400th career win in 33 varsity seasons; he has 330 of those at Twin Lakes over 25 years.
“It just means I’ve been around a long time,” he joked. “I’m very fortunate and thankful to be here the past 25 years. It’s been a great opportunity for my family and myself, and we’re continually happy to be here. We’ll just worry about the next one now.”
Class 2A Elwood (0-3) was without leading scorer Jayden Reese and leading rebounder Colton Limoges, and was a last-minute replacement — the Indians were supposed to head to North Judson, but the Bluejays’ school closure necessitated a change. Adams thanked the Elwood athletic department in announcing the change Thursday, and also Friday night.
“It was definitely reliving to get our first game in,” senior guard Lewis Dellinger said. “(Thursday) at practice, we were thinking about North Judson the whole practice. Then we get told, ‘Hey, we’re actually playing Elwood.’ So we came in (Friday), did a little bit of scouting, a little film, and played.”
Player absences for both the Panthers and Indians — junior Caden Harker was out for the hosts — were because of coronavirus-related quarantines, as was North Judson having to opt out of the game.
The Panthers hit the game’s first bucket, a shot from Mason Robison, and led 5-2 on a Ben DeLong 3-pointer.
Clayton Bridwell’s steal and layup gave the Indians (1-0) a 6-5 advantage two and a half minutes into the first quarter and Twin Lakes took control with a 15-0 run.
“I think you could see we started off a little slow,” Dellinger said. “We came out a little rusty, but then once we got in our groove, we hit it. Wee took off.”
Gage Businger’s layup gave the home team a 17-5 advantage, and it was 19-8 after the opening eight minutes.
It ballooned to 20 points (28-8) on a Bridwell field goal, rose to 27 (Reece Arthur’s layup, 35-8) before Elwood scored again and was 32 (46-14) at halftime.
The scoreboard read 58-18 at one point before the Panthers began to climb back into the game as Adams emptied his bench.
“We were waiting. We were waiting for a long time,” senior forward Noah Johnston said of playing Friday. “Our whole team is able to overcome adversity like this. You just have to be flexible.”
Twin Lakes shot 42 percent overall (24 for 57) and saw Bridwell net 22 off three 3s, a 3 for 5 performance from the free-throw line and five shots in the paint. Johnston added 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, a pair of 3s and a pair of free throws.
“This is not easy, but the kids have been very fluid, very good at riding the hills, ups and downs,” Adams said. “I’m proud of them.”
Bridwell snagged eight of the team’s 13 steals. Gage Businger and Johnston each grabbed eight rebounds and both Lewis Dellinger and Kahari Jackson collected six. The Indians had 20 offensive rebounds.
Twin Lakes gets its first crack at win No. 401 for Adams tonight when they host Fountain Central at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re just blessed to have someone who has been able to get 400 wins coaching us,” Dellinger said. “And that’s not where he’s going to stop, either.”
Added Johnston: “We’re super proud of him. He’s definitely deserving of it; he’s one of the best coaches in Indiana.”