The Jonathan Alder boys basketball team isn’t winning games at the clip those in and around the program would ideally like. But the Pioneers are doing one thing very well this season and chances are if they continue to play defense at such a high level many more wins will come their way.
The Pioneers (3-3) once again played stifling defense and scored just enough points to knock off visiting Mount Vernon 46-37 on Monday, Dec. 30. It was the sixth time in as many games this season the team has held its opponent at 50 points or less.
“We’re trying to keep it pretty simple because we’re so young,” Alder coach Brent Cahill said. “We can’t control how well we shoot it, but we do control our effort and how hard we play on the defensive end.
“We’ve guarded well most of this season, but there have been times where we didn’t finish the possession by not grabbing the rebound but our defense is keeping us in games.”
In the contest against the visiting Yellow Jackets (5-4), the Pioneers defense was on top of its game for the better part of three quarters. Alder closed off passing lanes and got hands up on defense and limited the number of clean looks Mount Vernon got at the basket.
“Varsity teams are eventually going to score, but our guys executed defensively,” Cahill said. “That’s a good Mount Vernon team and we held them to (20) points until about 6:00 to play in the game.”
The Pioneers were comfortably ahead 33-20 heading into the final quarter when the Yellow Jackets suddenly caught fire and went on a 16-0 run to get within five points, but the home team found a way to regroup and hold on for an important non-league victory.
“It’s a huge, huge win for us,” the coach said. “With young kids you’ve got to keep their confidence up and winning games does that.
“We’ve been in every game we’ve played this year. We’ve got to continue to handle tough situations a little better than we have. We could probably have a couple more wins than we have right now, but I like the way our kids are playing.”
Freshman Trey Pugh once again was the team’s leader statistically as he scored 14 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out four assists. Andrew Koenig finished with 11 points, snagged five rebounds and recorded a team-high four steals. Declan Thomas also did a great job filling up the stat sheet with six points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The Pioneers were scheduled to have New Year’s Eve off and come in on New Year’s Day in preparation for a home clash with Madison County rival London on Thursday, Jan. 2 starting at 7:30 p.m.