By Dustin Dopirak
For the Daily Journal
Right at the moment Greenwood had a chance to wrest control of Friday’s game and therefore the Mid-State conference title from Plainfield on Friday night, Greenwood coach Joe Bradburn found himself faced with a difficult decision.
His star, 6-foot-4, 215-pound forward Rasheed Elemikan, picked up his third foul three minutes into the third quarter after the Woodmen had cut an eight-point deficit to to one. Bradburn had to decide whether to roll the dice or make the safe play he usually makes.
He made the safe call and took Elemikan out — and found himself quickly regretting it. Plainfield, ranked No. 5 in Class 4A went on a 12-0 run through the end of the quarter and cruised from there to a 44-30 win and the outright conference title.
Plainfield senior forward Ian Scott led all scorers with 14 points. Plainfield improved to 17-1, 6-0 in the Mid-State. Greenwood fell to 13-4, 5-2.
“I went with our customary move and it was probably the wrong choice,” Bradburn said. “They’re just too good and Rasheed is our difference maker on the floor from a rebounding standpoint. And then they pressed us and we got in bad rotations in their press. That gave them enough room to jolt the game and put them in position to control it.”
Bradburn knew going that controlling the game was going to take a lot of doing. The Quakers’ length made them difficult to score on and their execution on offense made them difficult to stop. Greenwood tried to slow the game down — sometimes running a Four Corners-style stall offense even when down as many as eight points — just to minimize possessions and give itself a fighting chance.
It worked in the sense that the Woodmen didn’t let the Quakers run away with the game early when Greenwood was struggling to score. Plainfield went on a 10-0 first-quarter run and was up 14-5 at the end of that period, but scored just five points in the second quarter to take a 19-11 lead into halftime. Elemikan had four first-half points and sophomore wing Carter Campbell had seven, and that in itself was enough to keep Greenwood within striking distance. Greenwood went on a 7-0 run thanks to a 3-pointer by Campbell and four free throws by senior guard Charlie Brooks and suddenly the advantage was just 19-18.
But it was around that time that Elemikan was called for the third foul.
It took a bit until things went south, but when it happened, it happened quickly. Senior guard Aiden Moyers flew in for an offensive rebound and putback, drew a foul and made the free throw to finish the three-point play.Then, forward Ian Scott drove and drew a foul for another three-point play. Then Plainfield forced a turnover that turned into another layup for Scott, and just that quickly it was 27-18.
“I was debating the entire time (Elemikan) was on the bench,” Bradburn said. “I looked at 2 minutes and we had the ball with 2 minutes and it was maybe a five-, six-point game. I’m like, ‘I’m gonna just spread our offense a little bit and let’s run the clock and see if we can get a basket and have guards in there.’ We turned the ball over so that backfired. It’s one of those hindsight 20/20 things and I feel bad about it. That was the point I was regretting.”
Moyers scored on a reverse at the end of the quarter and Scott scored early in the fourth to complete the 12-0 run, and Greenwood finished with just one field goal in the third quarter. Greenwood never cut it back under double digits in the fourth. Brooks had three field goals in the fourth and finished with 10 points to match Campbell for the team lead and Elemikan finished with seven, but Plainfield had too much firepower on both ends for Greenwood to keep up.
“They’re long, they’re athletic, they’re strong, they’re bouncy,” Bradburn said. “They have a lot of the elements you want in a basketball team. They have a chance to make a run in the tournament because they’re talented and I think they’re well-coached. You don’t see that every night and we had to adjust to that a little bit. When you take a few minutes to adjust and they get two or three baskets before you’re adjusting in a game like this and you have little margin of error, that crushes you.”