Keegan Kollmeyer and the Fishers Tigers battled to the end on Senior Night. file photo
Keegan Kollmeyer and the Fishers Tigers battled to the end on Senior Night. file photo
FISHERS - Down by as many 20 points, the Fishers Tigers weren't ready to surrender without a fight on Wednesday night.

Charging back in the second half, the Class 4A Tigers (12-11) cut their deficit to one point late in the fourth quarter in their regular-season finale against Decatur Central (11-10). But despite a 16-point surge by Keegan Kollmeyer, they couldn't quite get over the hump, losing 71-66 on Senior Night.

"We started a little slow, and our defense wasn't too great either, giving up 42 in the first half," said Kollmeyer, a senior, after scoring a team-high 22 points. "That's just totally unacceptable. We have to keep teams under 50 and giving up 42 in the first half just isn't going to get the job done."

In the first half, the Tigers' offense all but vanished as the Hoosier Crossroads Conference champions shot 27 percent from the field.

Led by 6-foot-2 senior CB Bennett and 6-0 junior Antoine Divine, the Hawks ran out to a 16-6 lead and led 40-20 late in the second half.

Bennett, who finished with a game-high 30 points, shot 14 of 17 from the field and scored 14 of the team's first 18 points.

Divine had 25 points, knocking down 5 of 6 3-pointers and 8 of 9 free throws. He shot 6 of 13. Both carried 16 points by the break.

"(Divine) is a great shooter. I saw it on film, and I told these guys, these two players (Divine and Bennett) shoot the darn lights out," Fishers head coach Joe Leonard said. "They have a couple of good players on that team."

The roles reversed in the second half.

The Tigers slowed the Hawks with their defense, dropping Decatur Central's field goal percentage from 68 to 40 while forcing eight turnovers in the third quarter alone.

Kollmeyer put up 11 points in the quarter, going 5 of 6 as the team hit 12 of its first 13 shots to narrow the gap 54-50.

"We couldn't buy a bucket to begin with. We laid into them at halftime pretty good, and we put some kids in that were effort kids," Leonard said. "That helped us."

Reid Stephens contributed five points off the bench while Cameron Wolter scored 14 as a reserve. Lance Dollison, who led the team with 11 in the first half, tacked on another eight to finish with 19.

Fishers went 70 percent from the floor in the second half and put together an 11-0 and a 15-7 run to shrink the deficit to single digits.

A Stephens' layup with 5:04 left in the game brought the Tigers within two points at 61-59. After Kollmeyer buried a pair of free throws with 31.6 seconds remaining, the Hawks' lead stood at 67-66.

"It was way too big of a hole," Leonard said. They showed heart in coming back, and you always try to take something positive out of this, so that's it. But we have to put four quarters together."

Divine hit two free throws with 19.7 seconds on the clock and an Adam Preda steal and a foul, sending him to the line for a pair, kept Fishers from completing the comeback.

"Were we flat after the Zionsville game? Maybe. But you can never come out and play like that ... on our home court, senior night," Leonard said. "That's an awful pill to swallow."

The Tigers celebrated their school's first HCC title on their home floor last Friday after defeating 4A Zionsville 68-55. Fishers ran the table this year with a perfect 6-0 record in conference play.

Next week, they face a stout challenge to open Sectional 8 at Carmel against No. 8 North Central (16-5) at 7 p.m. Earlier this year, the Panthers defeated Fishers 69-47.

"They're pretty upset about it right now, but if we play like we did in the second half in sectional, we can do something," Leonard said. "But we have our hands full."