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December 17, 2011INDIANAPOLIS - In a battle of the state's two top-ranked teams in Class 4A, Purdue recruit Ronnie Johnson and North Central defended their home floor against Hamilton Southeastern and future Big Ten rivals Gary Harris and Zak Irvin.
The second-ranked Panthers' 81-76 win at North Central handed the top-ranked Royals their first loss.
Johnson, a point guard who signed with the Boilermakers this fall, scored 27 points, making seven three-pointers on 13 tries. He also had five rebounds and five assists, but six turnovers, in what was frequently a fast-paced, back-and-forth shootout.
Harris, a Michigan State signee, scored 34 for the Royals, with several acrobatic dunks during a wild third quarter.
"Five bucks?" North Central coach Doug Mitchell quipped, referencing the cost of admission. "Are you serious? What a game. What an atmosphere. That's Indiana high school basketball at its finest right there."
Irvin, who's committed to Michigan, got in some early foul trouble, but finished with 17 in 27 minutes.
North Central senior Patrick Ingram, an Iowa signee, also found himself in foul trouble, but shook it off to score 20 in just 19 minutes.
The Panthers got 17 from center Darius Latham, a football prospect as a defensive tackle who Indiana had coaches out to scout Saturday night.
Highly regarded sophomore forward Perry Poindexter started for North Central and made 3-of-4 shots in scoring six points to go along with three rebounds and a blocked shot in 21 minutes. He's drawing early interest from Purdue, Indiana and numerous others.