By Mike Monahan
INDIANAPOLIS – The fact that Martinsville’s Chris Lee stole the ball and scored on a layup to open the scoring is not real unusual, but the fact he did it on an NBA floor is. The Bluestreaks led Heritage 4-2 after a basket by Eli Stephens at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers when the Hawks, 7-9 overall and 1-1 in the conference went on a 22-1 run over the next six minutes, 21 seconds to take a 24-5 advantage before the run ended with a 3-pointer by Lee with 6:52 left in the first half. The Hawks went on to win 65-37.
After the game an eight minute contest between the Heritage junior varsity and some of the seven-member Martinsville squad was played with a continuous clock and the game ended in a tie at six.
“Hopefully we can have the game there once every two or three years,” said Martinsville coach Justin Parcel. “It was an experience of a lifetime. The Pacer organization really treated us well. I am sure it is something they are going to talk about for years.”
Heritage, who shot 47 percent from the field for the game, started the run with a basket by Cody Reed, who led all players with 15 points. John Taylor followed with a basket as the Hawks took the lead for good with 5:18 left in the opening quarter. Brandon Richardson scored and Taylor followed with a putback before a layup by Richardson made it 12-4 Heritage. After a free throw by Zach Mulkins, who led the Bluestreaks with 12 points, Richardson scored on a putback and Jordan Wolf sank back-to-back three-pointers against the Bluestreaks, who had started in a man-to-man defense before switching to a 2-3 zone in the second period. Richardson ended the quarter with a basket as Heritage was 10-of-15 (.667) from the field after missing its first field goal attempt.
A basket by Martinsville’s Jacob Vincent made it 26-10 with 5:46 left in the first half when Heritage reeled off 12 unanswered points, including back-to-back three-pointers by Reed and led 38-12 at the half. The Hawks man-to-man defense held Martinsville to just 25 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
“They (Heritage out rebounded us bad (38-25), “said Parcel. “I thought Zack Mulkins did a good job on Taylor and Jake (Vincent) was on the other tall kid (6-4 Brandon Richardson). Offensively, it seemed like we stood a lot. We couldn’t get moving. It took a long time for us to get going.”
The Bluestreaks did make half of their 12 field goal attempts in the third and were only outscored 16-13.
Heritage had three other players finish in double figures in Taylor (12 points), Richardson (14 points) and Wolfe (11 points).
As for the experience Parcel was happy with everything.
“The kids are very well mannered and well behaved and I wouldn’t be afraid to take them anywhere,” said Parcel. “Having a group like that makes all the difference in the world and it makes it all the more fun to do stuff like that and it all starts at home. This group has good parents and it shows.”
Mulkins, who went over the 1,000 point barrier in Friday’s 59-47 loss to Arcola, said, “It felt awesome (scoring his 1,000 point). It took a lot of shots to get that.”
Mulkins received the game ball and the game was stopped for the announcement Friday. As for Saturday Mulkins said, “It was pretty exciting. I couldn’t get much sleep Friday night. I was pretty excited to come here and play. We were hoping we could run on Heritage a little bit, but hey had some pretty good players. I wish I could have played better, but it was a different environment and a different feeling. I wish I could do it over and see if I could play better there.”
All of the players talked about the background, which unlike most high school gyms, doesn’t have a wall right behind the basket.
“It is different shooting the ball,” said Elliott. “Seeing the stands behind the basket is tough to get used to. It makes the rim look a lot smaller. I wish we could have won, but it was fun.”
Lee, who finished with double figures with 10 points and is an Oklahoma City Thunder fan said, “It was a once in a lifetime experience, but it is still just a regular basketball game. We still had to play and perform on it.”
NBA courts are 94 feet long compared to 84 feet in high school.
“When you are running out there what you are used to was like the free throw line of the other end,” said Lee. “And you are like, ‘oh, I need to get back farther.’ You had to adjust to that.”
For most of the players it was the first time they had been to Bankers Life Fieldhouse with the exception of Mulkins.
“It was an entirely different atmosphere,” said Vincent, who like most players was looking forward to watching the NBA game and was one of several that don’t follow the NBA.
For Mulkins it was a little different as he is a Pacers fan.
“It is so cool to get to watch them (Pacers) play,” said Mulkins who said of the team photo taken afterwards “I will get it framed and put it in my room and keep it forever.”
Martinsville, 0-10 overall and 0-2 in the conference, is to travel to Bement Friday for another conference game.
Martinsville’s Tim Wilson made his public address debut Saturday and added some play-by-play as well, while Mattoon resident David Phipps was one of three officials. Bob Ginger, a Mattoon graduate, who is a physical education teacher and junior high health teacher at Martinsville, was the official scorer for the game sitting on the press row along with Heritage athletics director Lori Archer, who kept the book for the Hawks.
There was a game prior to the Martinsville contest, which was won by Cisne, 57-42 over Edwards County.
Each day the Pacers play at home (when they play at night) there are two high school basketball games from noon to 4 p.m. (Indiana time).
While Martinsville left about midway through the fourth quarter of the Pacers 95-80 win over Milwaukee Bucks Heritage fans stayed and some players and fans were seen on the new 50 foot lone and 21-feet high scoreboard, which includes a 25-by-14 feet full HD video screen with 2:35 left in the game. (former Georgetown player Roy Hibbert had a career-high 11 offensive rebounds and led the Pacers with 20 points and 15 rebounds in the team’s seventh straight home game win).
While a representative from the Pacer organization, Wilson and both Justin and Joey Parcel were waiting for the Martinsville players to take their showers the Pacer team walked by them.
“It is unbelievable how big those guys are,” said Justin Parcel. “Roy Hibbert (7-2) looked like he was 8-0 tall.”
Heritage 22 16 16 11 --65
Martinsville 5 7 13 12 --37
HERITAGE: Taylor 6-0-12; Fitzgerald 1-0-2; C. Leemon 1-0-2; Richardson 6-2-14; Reed 5-1-15; Robertson 2-0-4; Wolfe 4-1-11; Dickey 2-0-5; Graham 0-0-0; Totals 27-4-65
MARTINSVILLE: Lee 4-0-10; Mulkins 4-3-12; Elliott 2-0-5; Stephens 1-0-2; Vincent 4-0-8; Marcum 0-0-0; Hays 0-0-0; Totals 15-3-37
3-point goals: Heritage 7 (Reed 4, Wolfe 2, Dickey 1); Martinsville 4 (Lee 2, Mulkins 1, Elliott 1); Rebounds: Heritage 38 (Taylor 8); Martinsville 25 (Elliott 7); Turnovers: Heritage 14, Martinsville 20; Shooting percentages: Heritage .474; Martinsville .333
Contact Monahan at email@example.com or 217-238-6854.