As the final seconds dripped off the clock for the RHS Argonauts men’s basketball team’s season, juniors Malik Golden and Keith Smith unselfishly passed back and forth trying to move the Bethesda defenders to see who would get the best look for a final shot that would not have changed the result either way, a microcosm of a team that left the season with willing hearts, but just not enough on the scoreboard.
RHS fell 50-30 to Bethesda Christian on the Patriots’ home floor Wednesday night in their first crack in school history at being a part of the IHSAA State Tournament, but left it with everything they had on the floor.
Junior Malik Golden returned to the lineup after a brief absence to score a team-high 11 points. Junior Dontai Dancy followed up with 9.
“What I told them in the locker room was that I was proud of them, regardless of this result,” mused head coach Bart Doan. “They played hard, diving all over the floor even down hopelessly late, and that shows something that often is more important than what’s on the scoreline. It shows the character these young men have.”
Having played Bethesda twice in eight days, the Argonauts knew they had to change their style of play if they were going to be successful. They came out seeking to limit possessions and force Bethesda to pick up in man defense, where the film showed them the previous week they had found success.
But a string of unforced errors caused the scoreline to change the style of play, and by the half the Patriots had built a 15-point lead.
In the second half, the Argonauts found some life in getting the ball to Golden, who saw all 11 of his points come in the game’s second stanza. But every time RHS swung close, a deflating foul or miscue tripped up their run of form.
The Argonauts got within 11 late in the third quarter and entered the fourth down 12, but this time it was Bethesda’s turn to be content letting the seconds tick off the clock as to not ever let the score become too stressful for their seven seniors.
Doan took a more reflective tone after the game, noting the achievements the players had worked towards rather than focusing on the reality of the season ending.
“Like we told them, it’s one thing to step into a jersey that’s been worn for 40, 50 years like happens at most other schools, but it’s a totally different thing to build a program from scratch into sectional play in three years.
What they did … couldn’t be done. But they did it anyway, and I hope they always remember that. Though their story is not fully written, it’s a legacy not many can say they left already.”
The 2019-20 campaign closes with junior Will Holland leading the scoring for the season with an average of 17.3 points per game. Junior Brandin Johnson finishes as the season’s rebounding average leader, with 12.3 per game. Golden showed much improvement this year as well, particularly on the scoring side. He chipped in 7.9 points per game after averaging 1.0 per game as a sophomore in limited action.
Next season will mark RHS’ first as a conference member, as they were accepted into the Greater Indianapolis Conference during the middle of basketball season.