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Howell's late free throws lift M-G over Blackford

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POWER MOVE: Madison-Grant’s Isaac Cooper powers to the basket against a Blackford defender in the second half of the Argylls’ 69-67 win over the Bruins Friday in Fairmount. Cooper finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds for M-G. Kaden Howell led the Argylls with 26 points.
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SURROUNDED: Blackford sophomore Luke Brown looks for space along the baseline between Madison-Grant’s Grant Brown and Isaac Cooper (left). Luke Brown scored 36 points but Kaden Howell’s three free throws with a second to play lifted the Argylls to a 69-67 win in Fairmount Friday night.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

FAIRMOUNT — For most of their 32-minute battle against Blackford and its sensational sophomore Luke Brown, sophomore Kaden Howell and his Madison-Grant teammates did everything possible to slow down the Bruins and their star.

Still, in the end it appeared Brown was going to steal away the win from the Argylls. Literally.

With M-G leading 66-65 and 4.4 seconds left to play and holding the ball, Brown stole an inbounds pass and drew a foul, made both free throws and gave Blackford a 67-66 lead with 3.1 seconds remaining.

After a Madison-Grant timeout, the Argylls threw a long inbounds pass in the direction of Howell, who picked up the ball after a deflection and hoisted up a 3-pointer and drew a foul on the Bruins in the process.

Howell calmly stepped to the line and dropped all three with just a second to play, giving M-G a much needed, hard-earned, 69-67 win over the Bruins.

“We were just going to throw it long and try to make something happen,” Howell said. “It got fumbled around and I found it and did what I could do, really. The first one I was so nervous, let me tell you. I had so many things going through my mind.”

Howell’s first free throw bounded around the rim before falling through the net. The second and third free throws touched nothing but net.

Howell’s fingerprints were all over the Argylls’ win as he poured in a team-high 26 points which included hitting 5-of-11 from beyond the 3-point line. Three of those triples came in the third quarter and helped M-G overcome a 33-30 halftime deficit.

“When he got hot we kept running stuff trying to get him the ball shot after shot,” Madison-Grant coach Brian Trout said. “They didn’t stay in that zone very long. We knew that was coming.

“Then (Blackford) went to a 1-3-1 with a chaser (on Howell) and we were able to get a couple guys to step up and hit ‘Coop’ inside a couple of times and get them out of that,” Trout added.

Coop is senior Isaac Cooper, who hadn’t played basketball in more than a year-and-a-half until this season. Cooper provided the Argylls with a hammer inside the paint that complimented Howell’s outside shooting.

Cooper finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds and provided a big defensive presence when Luke Brown drove to the basket.

“Coop really stepped up,” Trout said. “He did a great job of getting to the boards, covering guys we needed to be covering and we wanted to get it to him. We felt like we had an advantage inside and wanted to get it to Coop. He’s still learning but he’s coming.”

Grant Brown finished with 11 points for the Argylls and led the collective effort by M-G in defending the sharp-shooting Bruin Luke Brown.

Trout wanted to rotate Grant Brown, Lance Wilson and Jackson Manwell as the primary defender on Luke Brown, while all the other Argylls on the floor were ready to help. But foul trouble dictated Grant Brown would chase and harass Luke Brown for a big part of the second half.

For his efforts, Luke Brown finished with 36 points, nearly three below his state-leading 38.7-point per game season average. He hit 11-of-22 field goal attempts, 4-of-11 from 3-point range, and 10-of-12 from the free throw line.

Madison-Grant made Luke Brown earn every point he scored.

“He’s a great player,” Howell said of Luke Brown. “We knew he was going to score, just don’t let them come easy. Do your best to slow him down.”

Trout added, “Our goal was 25 or lower on him. We figured if we could hold to that we’d win the game. We didn’t quite do that, but we still won the game.”

Luke Brown scored just four points in the first quarter and the Argylls led 17-11 at the break. The combination of Blackford’s sophomore and seven M-G turnovers in the second quarter allowed the Bruins to rally. Brown scored 16 points and the Bruins outscored the Argylls 16-2 over the final 4:30 of the first half to send Blackford to intermission with a 33-30 advantage.

Blackford extended its lead to 38-32 before Howell drained two of his triples during a Madison-Grant 9-0 run that put the Argylls back on top 44-40. Grant Brown’s driving basket just before the third quarter buzzer gave M-G a 51-48 lead entering the final eight minutes.

The Bruins led just twice in the fourth, at 56-55 and 67-66 after Luke Brown’s steal and free throws in the final seconds.

“We made a couple of bad decisions there late. The second quarter we got in a little foul trouble and we got into a little bit too big of a hurry,” Trout said. “We wanted to push it because we felt like we could score in transition against them and we were able to. We just made some bad decisions, got a little too quick with the personnel we had. We needed to slow it down a little.”

Madison-Grant (5-5, 2-1 in Central Indiana Conference) travels to Northfield at 7:30 p.m. today.