Hot shooting staked Mount Gilead to a large lead early on in their road contest against Highland in Friday night boys’ basketball and they never looked back in earning a 72-53 decision.
The Indians connected on 10 three-pointers in the game, with eight coming in the first half as they took a 27-10 lead after the first quarter and were up 45-27 at the intermission.
“We see it all the time in practice and see flashes in games,” said MG coach Dan Strasser of his team’s hot shooting. “We have guys who can shoot the ball.”
Matthew Bland and Elijah Chafin got the team off to a good start, combining for the team’s first 13 points and the first three of those long-range shots. After four points from Rider Minnick got the Scots within five points at 13-8, the Indians finished the opening period on a 14-2 run. Jackson Huffer mustered seven of those points, while Bland hit his third three-pointer of the quarter.
Leading by 17 after eight minutes of action, the Indians continued to add to their lead in the first five minutes of the second quarter. A pair of three-pointers by Bland and one more from Chafin played a big role in the team boosting their advantage to a 43-20 score.
“When they have two or three feet standing wide open…” said Highland coach Christian Toombs, who felt his defense didn’t put nearly enough pressure on the Indian shooters. “Our guys have to understand these guys are varsity basketball players and they’re going to make those. Our turnovers weren’t a big problem — it’s just that our perimeter defense was non-existent tonight.”
Highland did finish the half on a 7-2 run, getting three points by Minnick and two from both Landon Remmert and Taz Taylor, to get within a 45-27 margin. However, they were unable to maintain that momentum in the second half.
“We tried to dig ourselves out of a deep hole, but when you play a team that can handle the ball and shoot it, it’s hard to do,” said Toombs.”
Six points by Chafin, four from Bland and a three-pointer by Carter Kennon helped the Indians continue to add to their lead in the third, as they went into the final quarter with a 60-34 lead.
Mount Gilead would maintain a large advantage throughout the fourth quarter. While Highland got within 20 points twice in the period, they would be unable to overcome the Indians’ hot first-half shooting.
Bland hit five three-pointers and scored a game-high 21 points. Chafin hit three three-pointers in scoring 18, while Huffer scored 11 and Turner Fitzpatrick had eight. Highland got 14 from Minnick, while Bellamy scored nine and Brock Church finished with eight.
Strasser was pleased with his team’s focus, as that night was Highland’s Winter Homecoming game, leading to his players have a longer-than-usual wait to get on the court.
“You never know how those nights are going to go,” he said. “We were standing around and waiting a little bit. Shooting solves a lot of those problems and tonight was good to see.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS