A huge third quarter proved crucial to Mount Gilead as they topped visiting Danville by a 58-37 score on Friday.
The Indians led 23-10 at the half, but ended any hopes of a Blue Devil second-half comeback by putting up 33 points over eight minutes to increase their lead to a 56-22 margin. In that period, the team hit seven three-pointers in increasing their lead from 13 points to 34.
“We really talked since Elgin about doing what we do, trusting each other and waiting for the moment a good shot comes,” said head coach Dan Strasser. “The guys bought in and did that.”
MG also got off to a good start in the game, getting seven points from Jackson Huffer in taking a 9-0 lead three minutes into the game. While the team only scored once over the final five minutes of the period, it was a three-pointer by Joel Butterman that gave the team a 12-4 lead through eight minutes.
Danville would rally to within a 15-10 margin three minutes into the second period, but would not score again the rest of the quarter. MG responded with four points from Nathan Rogers and two each from Huffer and Butterman to hold a 23-10 advantage going into the break.
Strasser was pleased with his team’s defense, which carried the team through stretches when the shots weren’t falling.
“That’s the first thing we always talk about,” he said. “The only thing we can hang our hat on is defense. If we play solid defense, the offense will work itself out.”
And it did in the third quarter in a big way.
Matthew Bland opened the quarter with a bucket and Huffer added a three-pointer. A Danville basketball made the score 28-12, but MG would put up 13 in a row, with Huffer hitting two threes and Bland adding another as part of five points scored by him doing that run. The Indian lead would balloon to as much as 56-18, as Huffer added 10 more points in the quarter on his way to a game-high 25-point showing.
The fourth quarter did not go MG’s way, as they were only able to tally a late basket for two points over those eight minutes, but the team had built up a large enough lead to still easily hold on for the win. Strasser looked at his team’s play down the stretch as a good teaching moment.
“The lesson is that as soon as we got outside ourselves and doing stuff we shouldn’t be doing, things weren’t as smooth,” he said.
Huffer hit five three-pointers, four in the third quarter, in scoring his 25 points. Bland added 11 and Butterman scored 10 to give the team three players in double figures.
That win provided MG with a well-timed confidence boost, as they’re entering a tough week of competition featuring games with pre-season top KMAC picks Northmor and Centerburg, as well as Central District small school powerhouse Worthington Christian.
“It will be a good test for us,” said Strasser. “We’re looking forward to it. We’re going to find out how disciplined we can be, because if you’re not against good teams, they’ll show you.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS