Last season, Muncie Central boy’s basketball renewed its rivalry with Muncie Burris and would lose 63-61. Saturday, at the inaugural 2022 City of Champions Basketball Invitational, was a different story.
The Bearcats (3-8, 1-3 NCC) came back from a double-digit deficit to knock off their in-city rival, Burris (2-8, 0-3 PAAC).
“It was willpower. They didn’t want to lose to this team two years in a row,” Muncie Central head coach Chandler Thompson said. “They knew the expectations and everyone looked down on them; they just needed a wake-up call.”
Muncie Burris head coach Joseph Anderson expressed gratitude at the idea of the in-city rivals going at it every year.
“It’s a rivalry that just got renewed last year for us, but I think it's something big for these boys to be a part of and to go at it against a school in the same city, same community and go at it like they do,” Anderson said.
Muncie Central found its groove in the fourth quarter from senior guard BJ Isom, who scored all of his 12 points in the last eight minutes of play, allowing him to win the game’s Most Outstanding Player award.
“I didn’t have a great first half,” Isom said. “I was thinking, ‘How can I get my team back into this?’ and I was trying to contribute anyway I could. Coaches kept telling me to keep shooting so I came out in the second half and that’s what I did.”
The Bearcats were also led by junior guard Ja’Ion Childress who had a team-high 13 points, junior forward Antonio Gore with nine points and junior guards Daniel Harris and Malik Hasani, each with eight points.
Muncie Burris had a hot start to the game led by junior guard Colin McBride and junior forward Connor McKibben. McKibben had a game-high 15 points while McBride chipped in 12 points. Junior guard Bryce Karnes added 13 points of his own as well.
“I think we played really well in the first three quarters of the game,” McBride said. “We got sped-up and should have played better in the fourth quarter.”
Anderson remained confident in his team after the game and praised his team for their work ethic.
“One of my biggest takeaways was that my boys came ready to work on both sides of the ball and they were doing a great job of that,” Anderson said. “It came down to us stalling out on offense, but with that being said we still got a lot of good looks and we have got to learn to play composed and get our hands up on defense.”
The win provided a morale boost for Muncie Central, who enters tonight’s championship game against Greenfield-Central at 8 p.m. Muncie Burris will play South Bend Adams in the consolation game at 6 p.m.
“We’ve been losing so it’s a good way to start off a new winning streak,” Hasani said.
Contact Corbin Hubert with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @corbin_hubert_