Blazers manhandle Patriots
Troy Bowens scored 22 points and Ryan Delozier scored 16, and the Lindhurst High boys basketball team cruised to a 61-40 Golden Empire League victory Thursday night over visiting Pioneer.
It's a payback win for the Blazers (11-6, 3-0), who lost 52-45 to the Patriots (7-10, 2-2) on Dec. 19 in the second round of the Marysville Pepsi-Cola Classic.
“We're a way different team now,” said Lindhurst coach Bob Jensen. “We were still trying to find ourselves then. We hadn't had any success. You go out and play hard, but there's a difference between going into a game hoping you can win and going in knowing that if you do certain things, you're going to have a chance to win.”
Frederick Jones added six points and led the Blazers in rebounding with 13.
Kellen Simmons scored 20 points to lead Pioneer.
Robert Brown had a miserable night shooting, going just 2-for-12 from the floor and 0-for-5 from behind the three-point line, but he contributed in other ways, dishing 12 assists - nine in the first half - and clearing nine rebounds.
Most importantly though, he led a stellar defensive effort against a talented Pioneer team that features a dribble-penetration offense.
“They've got some weapons on the perimeter,” Jensen said. “Simmons is a legitimate offensive threat, (Byn) Cropley has hurt us in the past and (Rudy) Elizondo, they're all able to shoot it as well as penetrate, force help and then kick it out.”
Brown, along with Delozier and Anthony Lipkins, mostly stayed in a tight man-to-man defense to deny Pioneer's penetration, forcing the Patriots into low percentage jump shots for most of the game.
“(Brown) did a phenomenal job on Simmons, just being there,” Jensen
said. “Delozier did the same thing on Elizondo. I was impressed just watching it because (Pioneer) runs a lot of things that put a lot of pressure on a defense.”
The Patriots shot 30 percent from the floor (15-of-50), 22 percent from three-point land (2-of-9) and 67 percent from the free-throw line (8-of-12).
Lindhurst grabbed the early momentum with an 11-5 run to start the game, and the Blazers never looked back.
They led by 10 points, 20-10, after the first quarter and 13 points at the half, 34-21, and then drove it home in the third quarter, scoring 18 points while holding Pioneer to four, before rotating in the backups for the final frame.
“I like the way we're defending,” Jensen said. “We've stayed in games when we've done poorly offensively because we can defend. ... It kept us around, it helped us survive early on, and now we're getting better offensively, and the defense is still there.”
Bowens went 7-of-9 from the floor and 8-of-12 from the free-throw line as he quietly piled up his 22 points, and Delozier and Lipkins both made three 3-point shots.
As a team, the Blazers shot 43 percent from the floor (23-of-54), 32 percent from behind the 3-point arc (6-of-19) and 69 percent from the charity stripe (9-of-13).
Lindhurst also dominated the boards, outrebounding the Patriots 40-28. Pioneer only scored two second-chance points all game. Lindhurst scored nine.
And in a final statement of defensive dominance, 5-foot, 10-inch Kinjite King brought the crowd to its feet with 15 seconds to play when he soared in front of Pioneer's Ted Roath and swatted a three-point attempt half-way up into the bleachers.
“I tried to keep a straight face, but it was hard,” Jensen said of the block. “It did put a cap on things. Everybody had a good time with that one.”
Appeal-Democrat reporter Nathan D. Collier can be reached at 749-4714. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.