Cardington got out to a fast start against visiting Highland in a Tuesday night KMAC boys’ basketball game and never let up in picking up a 71-36 win over the Scots.
The Pirates took a big advantage in the early going, getting nine points from Trey Brininger in the first quarter to jump out to a 21-8 lead.
“The first two minutes, we really emphasized getting out ahead on them,” said Pirate coach Mark DeLaney. “Trey hit that first bucket and then we hit a couple early threes. I’m very pleased with our intensity. I thought we had multiple guys who gave multiple efforts.”
While Highland got four points by Jordan Bellamy in the opening minutes of the second quarter, the Pirates were able to continue pulling away. Leading 26-14, the Pirates got two points from Nate Hickman and Avery Harper and Lester added one-of-two free throws to push their lead to a 33-14 margin with four to go in the half.
Bellamy drained a three for Highland, but Harper responded with a Cardington three-pointer and Hickman added a basket to make it 36-17 at the two minute mark. However, the Scots would finish the half strongly.
Gavin Hankins scored from the field and was followed by two Taz Taylor free throws and a basket by Rider Minnick, as Highland was able to fight back to within a 13-point margin at 36-23. Unfortunately for the Scots, they would not be able to maintain that momentum into the third quarter, as the Pirates took a 21-5 advantage over those eight minutes to effectively put the game away.
“We just gave so much energy to cut it to 13,” said Scot coach Christian Toombs. “They’re strong. Those guys are tough at Cardington. That’s what we strive to be.”
Harper scored four points, Mason White had three and Lester scored two as Cardington jumped out to a 45-23 lead. A three-pointer by Bellamy and two from Garrett Fitzpatrick helped Highland close within 19, but the Pirates finished the quarter with 10 straight points — seven by Brininger — to lead 57-28 going into the fourth.
Eight minutes later and Cardington had improved to 2-1 on the season, while Highland fell to 0-2. The Scot season got out to a slow start due to COVID-19 quarantine, with them playing two games in two days to begin their year.
“We are a little bit behind, but a lot of other programs are in the same situation,” said Toombs. “One thing I can tell you is that I didn’t see anyone quit. That’s one thing we’re trying to change. The attitude of our basketball team.”
Toombs added that he and his staff have been trying to preach a number of things. Both a new system of play and also things related to respectfulness and academics.
“They have done an unbelievable job of getting that accomplished quicker than I thought,” he said.
Bellamy led Highland with 10 points, while Minnick added nine and Fitzpatrick scored eight. For Cardington, Brininger led all scorers with 23, while Harper finished with 21. Lester tallied 12 points and Hickman finished with 10.
In his first year as the Cardington coach, DeLaney is simply happy that things have worked out well for his team and they’ve been able to stay on schedule.
“We’re very fortunate,” he said. “I think the schools and administration have done a good job handling COVID cases and the kids are handling their business to be eligible. We’re just fortunate to be able to start our season on the correct schedule.”