For the first eight minutes of the neighborhood battle between the boys basketball teams from Jonathan Alder and Shekinah Christian, the visiting Flames were able to get just about any shot they wanted and took full advantage.
Shekinah Christian raced out to a double-digit first quarter lead, but the Pioneers, a squad that prides itself on its ability to defend, got defensive over the last three quarters and scratched out a hard-earned 54-42 victory on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
It was full steam ahead for the Flames (5-5) as they built a first-quarter lead that sat at 20-9 after a three-point play by Zach Yoder with 22.7 seconds remaining in the opening stanza. The advantage was 20-11 at the end of the quarter when the Pioneers finally arrived.
“Our willingness to compete just wasn’t there at the beginning,” Alder coach Brent Cahill said. “That’s why I was so upset during that first timeout and at the end of the first quarter.
“We’ve kind of hung our hat on our defense since I’ve been here. Even this year we’ve beaten some quality teams with our ability to defend and get into people. Tonight I don’t know if we thought we could just show up or not, but 20 points in a quarter is a ton, they only scored 22 the rest of the way. I liked the way we responded but didn’t like our approach at the beginning.”
Once Alder (6-4) got going it was by sharing the basketball. With a team full of capable ball handlers and shooters, the Pioneers were able to attack from numerous spots on the floor. They only scored eight points in the second quarter but with their defensive intensity turned up, they only allowed four for the Flames and trailed just 24-19 at the half.
Declan Thomas scored to open the second half and Hayden Hess drilled a three-pointer to tie the game at 24-24. Tanner Killian scored to make it 26-24 Alder and the Pioneers were on their way.
“When we share it we’re always going to get better shots,” Cahill said. “When we got down we kept trying to get it back with one possession, one shot. We’d get up the floor and take a quick one. In the second half we got pretty easy looks.”
Alder continued to make shots in the third quarter and led 33-28 heading into the fourth.
Just as Alder was sharing the ball, the Flames were struggling as players looked to play more one-on-one.
“The defense on their part was very good and we just couldn’t make shots,” Flames coach Rod Yoder said. “I don’t think we did a very good job of creating shots for other people. We got away from that and were looking for more dribble drives for ourselves and not looking to set up other people.
“We’re so guard oriented that we have to shoot the ball well and we have to look for others and I don’t think we did a very good job of that after the first quarter.”
A 10-point Alder advantage in the fourth quarter was trimmed to six at 42-36, but Trey Pugh and Declan Thomas scored on back-to-back possessions to bump it back up and it never dropped below the 10-point barrier the rest of the way.
Alder was led in scoring by Killian, who finished with 15, Freshman Andrew Koenig added 12 and Thomas reached double figures with 11 and Hess chipped in 11.
Jesse Showalter had 11 for Shekinah. Zach Yoder added nine, but only three after the first quarter. J.P. Showalter had seven while Justin Scheffel added six.
It was the second straight win for Alder, both coming against Madison County foes (West Jefferson). It will have a short break before a hectic stretch.
“We’ve got a week off and then we’ve got six games in 12 days. So this is a good time for a break,” Cahill said.
“We think it’s a privilege to come over here and play them,” Yoder said of the neighborhood rivalry. “Alder has always been very good to us. We wanted to come here and show well. One of these days we’ll beat them, just not today.”