LAFAYETTE — Christopher Lucas got a front row seat to see his basketball idols.
That opportunity was afforded to him based on his father’s role as an assistant coach.
While others were mimicking Stephen Curry or LeBron James on the playground, Lucas wanted to be like McCutcheon Mavericks star guards Tre’Shon Heard, Robert Phinisee or Eddy Collins.
On Friday night, with his father now on the coaching staff at Harrison, and with Heard on the bench with McCutcheon’s coaching staff, Lucas had the best offensive performance of his high school career.
The junior guard scored 17 points and carried the Raiders with his outside shooting when nothing else could go right, then drained two key shots in the fourth to propel Harrison to a 52-49 win over McCutcheon at Resler Gymnasium.
“It really meant a lot to me,” Lucas said. “I spent my whole childhood here. Growing up and watching people like Rob and Tre’Shon and Eddy, those people really did inspire me.”
In a strange coincidence, it was two years ago when Jonah Lucas, now a senior at Harrison, had his breakout offensive game in the same gym, also with a 17-point showing to lead a Raider win over McCutcheon.
Christopher Lucas made three 3s in the first quarter and his fifth to start the fourth quarter.
But without the junior knocking down outside shots, Harrison’s offense was pretty lackluster otherwise against a McCutcheon zone.
“It is not always going to go as planned. It’s not always going to go well,” Harrison coach Mark Rinehart said. “We gave them every confidence in the world that they were going to get it done against us based on our lack of execution on both ends of the floor. That is as bad as we have been execution wise all year.”
McCutcheon took advantage.
Landon Waeltz hit a deep 3-pointer just before halftime to give the Mavericks a 26-22 lead and Kameron Little was able to find openings underneath and turn that into nine first-half points.
Harrison’s saving grace other than Christopher Lucas was reserve 6-foot-7 senior Cooper Crum, who had eight rebounds.
“When we were at our worst, he gave us a chance to settle ourselves with some second shots,” Rinehart said. “He just makes effort plays that we desperately needed. He doesn’t have to be doing this. He is going to go play college football. He chose to do this and he asked for a leadership role on this team. He proved worthy of that tonight.”
After halftime, Harrison’s usuals took charge.
Ben Henderson and Jonah Lucas combined for 16 of the Raiders’ 19 points in the third quarter.
McCutcheon refused to back down, however.
“We played with a lot more passion and competitiveness tonight than last week where we were just kind of out there going through the motions,” McCutcheon coach Tyler Scherer said. “Our guys played their tails off and put themselves in position to be in the game in the fourth quarter. That’s all you can ask for.
“We kind of quit last week in the fourth quarter. There was a couple times in the third quarter and start of the fourth where it looked like Harrison was going to pull away. Our guys just kept being persistent and staying in the fight.”
Keaton Maple had five fourth-quarter points, Waeltz and Eli Swank hit 3s and the Mavericks had two steals in the final 30 seconds with a chance to tie the game.
On the first, Henderson swatted Jonovan Howard’s 3-point attempt and the next, Harrison forced the Mavericks into a desperation 3 that wasn’t close.
Harrison survived playing against a Tippecanoe County rival for the fourth straight game and earns a brief break before hosting Tri-West on Wednesday.
While Christopher Lucas embraced his moment at a gym he grew up dreaming of playing in, by the time he had a postgame interview, he was already past what had just happened.
“Work on the next one,” he said. “We have Tri-West coming up. We know they are a tough team and we just keep focusing on every day one by one.”
Sam King covers sports for the Journal & Courier. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @samueltking.
HARRISON 52, McCUTCHEON 49
HARRISON — C. Lucas 6-9 0-0 17, J. Lucas 7-15 0-0 14, Mithoefer 2-6 1-2 5, Henderson 5-12 1-2 13, Williams 1-1 1-2 3, Edmonson 0-0 0-0 0, Crum 0-0 0-2 0, Gick 0-1 0-0 0, Wolf 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-44 3-6 52.
McCUTCHEON — Little 5-6 1-2 11, Waeltz 3-6 0-0 9, Salazar 1-4 0-0 2, Howard 5-11 3-3 13, Maple 2-6 1-1 5, Swank 2-6 0-0 6, Baker 0-2 1-2 1, Zimmer 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 19-42 6-8 49.
Har 16 6 19 11
McC 13 13 12 11
3-point goals—Harrison 7-19 (C. Lucas 5-8, J. Lucas 0-5, Henderson 2-5, Gick 0-1), McCutcheon 5-16 (Waeltz 3-5, Salazar 0-3, Howard 0-1, Maple 0-2, Swank 2-5). Rebounds—Harrison 28 (Crum 8), McCutcheon 24 (Little 6). Turnovers—Harrison 14, McCutcheon 15. Fouls—Harrison 11, McCutcheon 10.
Harrison is 5-1 (2-0 North Central Conference); McCutcheon is 3-4 (0-2).