I asked Bush if, as the cliché goes, the rim stretched bigger with each shot.
“Way bigger,” he said. “Maybe if I would have shot a fifth one, I could have shot it with my eyes closed. It was humongous during that stretch.”
Bush doesn’t look like a giant killer. He’s 5-foot-7, 170 pounds, in his first season as a junior-college transfer for Huntington after playing at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Mich.
But Bush, who played high school ball at South Bend Adams, possesses that devastating mix of scorer, shooter and playmaker. He finished with 16 points (12 of them in that epic couple of minutes), 15 assists, six rebounds and two steals. He had five turnovers, but those are forgivable. He played the entire 40 minutes.
“Mike’s been a really good player for us, and a great find,” Huntington coach Ty Platt said. “He had a big day. He’s had that before, but not necessarily against an opponent the quality of Saint Francis.”
In the Crossroads League, the upset was huge. Saint Francis (15-4, 5-2 Crossroads) had been tied for the lead with No. 9 Bethel and No. 15 Taylor, with perennial rival No. 10 Indiana Wesleyan coming to Saint Francis on Saturday.
Huntington (12-7, 3-4) has been trying to establish consistent play in order to move up toward the upper half of the league.
Huntington came out as the aggressor from the opening tip, and led much of the game. Every time Saint Francis appeared ready to take the lead and control of the game, the Foresters found a big play to turn away the Cougars.
“I thought they were just tougher than us,” Saint Francis coach Chad LaCross said. “Inside, we allowed guys to seal us and get easy buckets. That’s not the way you’re supposed to play defense. If you’re going to win games on the road, you can’t defend like that.
“And Bush put together a really good stretch there.”
Huntington hit 13 of 30 shots from three-point range: Bush made 5-of-10 and Mason Coverstone, Tyler Arens and Austin Karazsia hit two apiece. Daniel Woll led Huntington with 21 points and seven rebounds, Arens scored 13 and Karazsia 12.
Saint Francis had two players with double-doubles. Kyle Sovine scored 18 points with 14 rebounds and Bryce Lienhoop scored 18 points with 12 rebounds. Chandler White scored 15 points and Kegan Comer and Evan Henry scored 11 apiece. Saint Francis’ depth was not a factor, as the Cougars were outscored 20-6 in points off the bench.
If Bush hadn’t had his huge scoring stretch, the game might have tilted to Saint Francis.
“I just wanted to get my team going,” Bush said. “A couple of plays didn’t go our way and we started hanging our heads. Instead of hanging our heads, I wanted to give us something to cheer about. Luckily, they went in today.”
After his junior-college stint, Bush looked for the best fit for his skills and his college aspirations and he liked what he say in Huntington.
“I reached out to Huntington and they reached back,” Bush said, “And it was a perfect fit for me.”
Platt said his staff is always scouring junior colleges as well as high schools to find players who can best fit the Foresters program.
“He’s a faith kid, he fits real well here at Huntington,” Platt said. “It takes a certain type of kid to play here. He just fits the mold. I’m going to go home tonight and thank God for leading him here.”
Bush stopped short of saying he had played his best game.
“Earlier in the season I had a perfect game – no misses, no turnovers,” he said. “But as a team, this is the best we’ve played.”
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.