Charging out of the gate: Boone Grove puts up 52 first-half points, eases by South Central
PORTER TOWNSHIP -- It had been two weeks since Boone Grove played a game, so coach Matt McKay wasn't sure what to expect.
"I was worried they'd be throwing the ball all over the gym," he said.
It turned out to be a worst-case scenario, for South Central.
The Wolves (3-0, 2-0) hit the floor in full stride, blitzing the Satellites for 52 first-half points that paved the path to a 75-57 Porter County Conference victory Friday at Hinkey Gym.
"They were chomping at the bit to come out," McKay said. "It's probably because they're all seniors out there. Tuesday this week, they were getting on each other's nerves. Instead of trying to slow it down and run the offense, maybe we should let them keep playing at that pace. I'll take our guys at that pace as opposed to their guys at that pace. I felt we would come out ahead on that. We just rolled with it the first half."
Trey Steinhilber cut through S.C. for 25 points, four 3s and four assists in a sizzling start that featured another 13 points by backcourt mate Connor Melchi.
"Our six is pretty good," Steinhilber said. "We've been playing together for a while. We all enjoy being around each other. I'm just ready to be out there and help my teammates. I trust all of them."
The start and the score wouldn't show it, but the Satellites ran off 18 unanswered points to start the third quarter, briefly cutting the 24-point deficit to six before Mason Bills' basket got BG on the second half board at 2:54.
"I told them at halftime, at some point, we have to fight back and not just keep taking it," S.C. coach Eric Speer said. "The limited experience we have, we keep getting hit and hit, and we never swing back. You start losing your momentum as you start losing. I thought we played harder. I thought we came out and attacked them. We were the aggressor and we weren't just letting them come at us. As crazy as it sounds, that's probably the most important moment for us this season. I think for the first time all season we put it together. I think that's going to propel us to the next step of our progress."
Boone regrouped to push the margin back to 11 by quarter's end.
"It's crazy," McKay said. "We had the ball to start the second half and missed a layup. When it comes easy, you start thinking it's going to be easy all the time."
Steinhilber finished with 30 points with beefy center Drew Murray taking over in the fourth quarter with eight of his 18 points. Jarrod Benkovich had seven rebounds.
"That wasn't good," Steinhilber said of the third quarter. "We have to work so that doesn't happen. We play a better team, that could end up a loss."
Sam Haschel had 14 points for S.C. with Alex Newburn and Tony Guevara each picking up 12.
"Our message is never winning, even when we won," Speer said. "The kids really bought in to, we've got to get better every day. I felt we got so much better from last Friday and last Saturday. I think our defense is getting better every day, which is huge for us because we gave up 52 points in a half. It comes from our defense. We got stops. They're just good. The better team asserted itself. I actually felt we continued in the fourth quarter, they're just a good team. To beat a good team, you can't play one good quarter, you can't play two good quarters. You've got to play four."
Despite the time off from games, it's been an eventful stretch for McKay. The Wolves coach is in a neck brace for a fractured C-6 vertebrae sustained in a late November accident when the other driver blew a stop sign. McKay's vehicle flipped but landed right side up.
"It just stabilizes it," said McKay, who hopes to get out of the brace after his next appointment (Jan. 4). "There's no surgery needed. I just get tired and sore."
South Central (1-6, 0-2) replaced LaCrosse on the Boone schedule after the Tigers went on a COVID pause last week. The teams were originally slated to play in mod-January. Boone had its Dec. 11 game with Westville postponed as well.
"I'm really glad we were able to work it out and get this one in," McKay said. "Now we play KV Tuesday and can go back into a regular schedule."