The Bloomfield senior drained 30 points -- but none bigger than the two free throws he hit with 2.4 seconds left to lift the Cardinals past visiting Bloomfield 55-54 here Friday night.
"I'm real proud of Ben Hays for stepping up to make those shots," Bloomfield (4-0, 2-0) coach Matt Britton said. "That's what you count on him to do as a senior and I wouldn't want anyone else on the line there at the end."
"I was pretty pleased with our second half performance, we did a little bit better job of stopping, but Hays was a little bit too quick for us," Shakamak (0-1, 0-1) coach Steve Brett said. "He got to us too many times and hopefully a lot of teams don't have that kind of quickness -- he was a thorn in our sides for sure."
Shakamak countered Hays' dominating performance with an equally impressive showing from Brodie Crowe.
The 6-2 senior finished the night with 20 points and five rebounds. He helped pull the Lakers within striking distance thanks to a second half outburst that saw him score 13 of his team-high tally in the final two quarters.
Shakamak had fully erased the BHS lead in the fourth quarter when Brandon Morin gave the Lakers a 54-53 edge with 21.7 seconds remaining.
"We tried to give the game away several times," "Anytime you can win a game, a conference game where you had basically two players do all the scoring and you turn the ball over what seemed to me like 20 plus times (19 in reality) and still found a way to win, its big."
A fight for the basketball under the Cardinals' rim ended up with Hays going to the line on a rebound and putback attempt.
"There at then end we had a couple of chances to come up with the ball," Brett said. "We should have come up with it, then we get the foul called."
After Hays drained the free throws, the Cardinal defenders spread the floor and forced an unsuccessful 3-point attempt from Morin as the buzzer sounded.
"Somebody had to win and I'm real proud of our kids' gutsy effort at the end of the game to win it," Britton said.
Lost in the mix of the Shakamak comeback in the second half was that Friday's game was the opener for the Lakers.
And according to Britton, it was a double edged sword that his team managed to survive.
"There's a negative to it," he said. "You give coach Brett three weeks to prepare for Bloomfield and you know that Shakamak's going to be ready for you."
Crowe was joined in double-digits by Patrick Green for the Lakers with 15 points and a game-high tally of six rebounds.
Morin finished the night with nine while Mark West and Jeff Bessling each added four and Kyle Shubla two for Shakamak.
Jared Myers added six and Taylor Skinner three points to round out the scoring for Bloomfield.
The Cardinals also won the junior varsity contest by a 38-22 tally.
Evan Fuller led the winners with 10 points followed by Drake Frederick and Conner Dowden with eight points each while Skinner, Logan Bucher, Eli Combs and J.J. Kingsley all added three each for BHS.
Shakamak got six points from Christian Burris, five each from Jake Walters and Dylan Collins and Braden Scott and Jeff Bessling each added three.
The Cardinals return to action at 6 p.m. Saturday (tonight) when they travel to Linton for another SWIAC contest while the Lakers host Sullivan on the same night also at 6 p.m.
SHAKAMAK (54) -- Patrick Green 6-10 1-2 15, Brandon Morin 3-11 3-5 9, Brodie Crowe 9-19 1-1 20, Kyle Schubla 0-1 2-2 2, Dylan Collins 0-1 0-0 0, Mark West 1-2 1-3 4, Jeff Bessling 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 21-46 8-13 54.
BLOOMFIELD (55) -- Jesse Helms 0-1 0-0 0, Kyle Robinson 5-6 6-7 16, Brandon VanSant 0-1 0-0 0, Jared Myers 3-7 0-1 6, Ben Hays 9-22 8-9 30, Taylor Skinner 1-1 0-0 3, Logan Bucher 0-0 0-0 0, Clayton Burch 0-0 0-0 0, Eli Combs 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-38 14-17 55.
Shakamak 16 9 16 13 -- 54
Bloomfield 19 15 11 12 -- 55
3-point shooting -- Shakamak 4-12 (Green 2-3, West 1-1, Crowe 1-5, Collins 0-1, Morin 0-1), Bloomfield 5-17 (Hays 4-12, Skinner 1-1, Myers 0-3, Helms 0-1). Rebounds -- Shakamak 23 (Green 6), Bloomfield 27 (Robinson 9). Steals -- Shakamak 8 (Schubla 3), Bloomfield 8 (Hays 3). Blocks -- Shakamak 1 (Crowe), Bloomfield 3 (Robinson 3). Turnovers -- Shakamak 15, Bloomfield 19. Total fouls -- Shakamak 16, Bloomfield 16. Fouled out -- none. Technical fouls -- none. Junior varsity -- Bloomfield 38, Shakamak 22.