DECATUR -- If that was the last game Armon Brummett plays at Eisenhower, the MacArthur senior went out in style.
Brummett scored 12 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter for MacArthur to end a five-game losing streak to Eisenhower on the way to an 84-81 win against the Panthers Friday night.
The city game provides an intensity Brummett and the Generals have adapted to, but it doesn't make playing in the atmosphere any easier.
“It was hectic," Brummett, who added 10 rebounds, said. "A lot of running, a lot of screaming, we couldn’t hear the coaches on the court.
"That’s good, because our coach trusts us and he knows we’re in good hands out there. It’s fun, but it’s also hectic at the same time."
After ending the third quarter tied at 57-all, MacArthur (8-7, 5-2 Central State 8) opened the fourth quarter on a 15-5 run to get breathing room against Eisenhower (4-9, 1-5).
But Eisenhower, as it had all game, slowly chipped away at the lead to cut MacArthur's lead to 78-76 with 1:50 left after Panthers' freshman R.J. Walker drilled his third 3-pointer of the game.
Brummett and MacArthur senior Kennan Ingram, who scored all seven of his points in the fourth quarter, kept the Panthers at bay.
Still, Eisenhower had one last shot after Ray Neal Jr. missed a pair of free throws with 17.1 seconds left which would have iced the game. Walker grabbed the rebound, dribbled up and passed to sophomore Cameron Rowe.
Rowe dribbled into traffic and the MacArthur defense suffocated him to force the turnover and finally notch the first city win since Jan. 15, 2016.
"Unfortunately, we missed key free throws and key layups and a couple out-of-bounds plays with missed assignments and gave a team a couple opportunities on rebounds," Eisenhower coach Rodney Walker said. "You can’t do that. Especially in the clutch."
When things got hectic late in the fourth quarter, and the crowd was loud enough to drown out MacArthur coach Ron Ingram and his staff on the sidelines, Keenan Ingram stepped in.
He came up with rebound after rebound to give MacArthur second chances, and to keep the Panthers out of transition.
“(Our mindset) was to dominate," Keenan Ingram said. "We really wanted to win by more, but we will take a win any day."
After a forgettable first half where Keenan Ingram, a self-described 'energy guy' off the bench, was held in check, Ron Ingram gave him a halftime speech to get the senior back in order.
“He didn’t play well in the first half," Ron Ingram said. "We got in the locker room and I got on his butt a little bit, trying to wake him up a little bit. I didn’t know how he was going to take that coming out in the second half. He came out with a lot of energy.
“He played awesome in that second half for us. He got loose basketballs and key rebounds, good passes, knocking down free throws (5 of 6). His all around game came out in the second half, especially the fourth quarter."
Keenan Ingram finished with seven points, including four clutch free throws in the final minute, five steals, three assists and three rebounds.
He came up with a key rebound off of a missed free throw in the fourth quarter to keep the ball with the Generals.
“The rebound was big because my shot wasn’t falling in the first half," Keenan Ingram said. "I was thinking I needed to do other things: Box out, get the rebound, pass the ball and look for my defensive stats."
For the spark the Keenan Ingram gave the Generals, Yansyn Taylor answered back with for Eisenhower.
Taylor was held to two points in the first half before exploding in the second half for 22 points for a team-high 24.
He scored 12 of Eisenhower's 20 third-quarter points to turn a 37-35 halftime lead into a 53-47 lead with 1:50 left in the third quarter.
"Yansyn had a great game," Rodney Walker said. "He was pretty much out of juice by the end. We need to get him to play like that every night. We need to get our team to come out with that type of energy. When we get that type of energy, we’ll be all right."
How many more times?
We know MacArthur and Eisenhower will play at least one more time this season --Feb. 20 at MacArthur.
But will the teams see each other for a third time in the postseason as they have the last two seasons?
The question also begs, is that it for the Brummett's (Armon and Amir, who had 19 points) and this group of MacArthur seniors on Eisenhower's floor?
There could be one more -- in the Class 3A sectionals.
"It’s the last game he’s going to ever play on this court -- unless we make it to the sectionals," Ron Ingram said of Armon Brummett. "We told our guys tonight where the sectionals are going to be at and this has to be our home."
Eisenhower has a way of wearing teams down on defense. The Panthers keep grinding at opponents, but in the process, they often find themselves battling out of deficits.
It was the same tale Friday when MacArthur opened the game with a 19-9 lead midway through the first quarter, and held a 10-point lead with 6:47 to go in the second quarter.
But as they do, the Panthers clawed back.
"Every time we dig a hole, we’ve got to come back and use a lot of energy and we get close, and take the lead, and lose it," Rodney Walker said. "It’s one of those games where in the clutch we’ve got to get a little stronger in what we do."
As far as the 4-9 record, and effectively being out of the chase in the Central State 8 Conference with Springfield Lanphier and Springfield Southeast on torrid streaks, Rodney Walker isn't worried.
“I’m not worried about the record right now," he said. "This team is getting better as we go. We just need to be peaking around that February time."
Looking for him
It's high praise to trust a freshman with the potential game-tying shot in a high-intensity game.
But those freshman aren't R.J. Walker.
That's who Rodney Walker wanted to take the shot. R.J. was on fire. Even with KJ Taliferro 12 points, Keon Jones' 14 and Quylan Young's 16, they wanted R.J. to take the shot.
“I was hoping we could get that last one to him, because he was feeling it," Rodney Walker said.