A big run got Mount Gilead on the right track in a 64-43 win over visiting Danville Friday night.
The two teams were locked in a close-knit battle for the first five minutes of regulation, with the Indians trailing 9-7 at that point. However, over the final three minutes of the first quarter and opening three of the second, MG went on a 16-point run and never looked back.
“We tried to simplify things tonight,” said Indian coach Dan Strasser. “I told the guys that I’m not a rocket scientist. We’ve got to defend and we’ve got to take care of the ball and they executed.”
Paul Butterman started the run with a basket. Matthew Bland added a pair of scores and Elijah Chafin threw in one from long range, allowing the Indians to lead 16-9 after the first quarter had expired. Then, to open the second period, the team got three points from Butterman and two each from Chafin and Jackson Huffer to open up a 23-9 lead.
Danville would fight back within a 25-17 margin, but the Indians finished the half with an 11-2 run to lead by 17 going into the intermission.
Strasser was happy with this team’s defensive intensity against the Blue Devils, as a lot of their offense was set up by steals turning into transition attempts.
“That’s been on our fix-it list,” he said. “We had a whole week off. We worked hard at the defensive end. Stuff we were doing back in November, we went back to it.”
During that time, the coach said his priority was making sure his players improved every day and avoided lackluster practice efforts.
“I talked about it all week,” he said. “‘This is a trap practice.’ We stressed to try to get better every day and we had good leadership making sure we don’t have bad practices.”
Mount Gilead added to their lead in the early going of the third quarter. Five points from Bland and three from Chafin helped them extend their advantage to a 48-21 score with 3:24 left in the period.
Leading 53-29 going into the fourth, MG gave up five straight points to open the period, but responded with a 7-0 run — four scored by Huffer — to keep a commanding lead in a game they would win by more than 20 points
“We stat four minute periods or 10 possessions,” Strasser said. “We try to simplify the game. It’s a game of spurts. They bought in and executed.”
Bland scored 18 points to lead the Indians. Chafin connected on three three-pointers in tallying 15, while Huffer added 11.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS