Using a strong second half performance, the Madison-Plains Golden Eagles won their opening game of the 2017-18 season Friday, topping visiting Ridgemont 53-46 Saturday afternoon.
Trailing 29-26 at halftime, the Eagles held the Gophers to four points in the third quarter and rode a 15-point second half performance by Anthony Holbrook and clutch free throw shooting to the victory.
Coach Joe B. Stewart’s inexperienced squad got off to a slow start and trailed 13-4 in the opening period before cutting the margin to 13-8 at the first quarter break. Guard Jeffrey Wittman found the range in the second period with 12 points including a four-point play that brought the Eagles to within two with 1:20 left before halftime.
The second half began with back-to-back Holbrook baskets on the inside to give the home team its first lead of the night. While the Eagles never trailed after that, they were never able to build a larger lead than the 40-33 margin they held at the end of the quarter.
Nursing a 47-44 with only 1:31 to play, the game was sealed for Madison-Plains with clutch free throw shooting by senior co-captain Wittman and fellow senior Jacob Toops making six straight free throws without a miss.
“I’m really pleased with our second half both defensively and offensively,” Stewart said. “The composure of Jeffrey and Jacob from the line with the game on the line was critical as well; happy for them, happy for us, obviously. We experienced some first game jitters, but after halftime, really settled into sound execution defensively (giving up only 17 points and only one offensive rebound) and offensively (50 percent fg, only five turnovers in the half). With all our inexperience, I felt like we really settled into a flow after struggling early.”
Wittman led the Eagle offense with 18 points followed by sophomore post player Holbrook with 15, all in the second half. Sophomore Jarrett Vallery and senior forward Ian Richards followed with six each, Toops and senior forward Jacob Petee had four each. Sophomore guard Matt Johnson, who did not score, nonetheless played well recording nine assists. Holbrook led the Eagles 27-20 rebounding advantage with nine.
The Eagles are back in action at home Friday, Dec. 9 with their Ohio Heritage Conference opener against one of the favorites, Springfield Catholic Central.
London wins a pair
London boys basketball Coach Zach Brown insisted a couple weeks ago his 2017-18 squad was a much improved bunch, it showed just that as it won it’s first two games of the season over the weekend.
The Raiders (2-0) ran past Shekinah Christian 87-46 Friday and topped a good Fairbanks team 62-46 Saturday.
In the win over the Flames, Jake Andrich (19 points) and Jimmy Dulin (18) led the way offensively, while Josh Handley (13) and Stuart Weyrich (12) also had big scoring nights.
Austin Lynn and Tucker Beachy had 11 points each for the Flames (1-1).
In the win over Fairbanks Weyrich hit five three pointers en route to a 22-point night. Andrich (13) and Dulin (12) also reached double figures.
Shekinah Christian 73,
The Flames (1-1) picked up their first win on the season Monday with a win over host Columbus International.
Joel Headings scored a game-high 23 points while Lynn finished with 18. A total of nine players scored for Shekinah.
West Jeff splits two
The Roughriders (1-1) opened with a 73-48 win over visiting Patriot Academy Friday, but fell 69-45 at Columbus Academy a day later.
Ben Casey (17), Jared Vermillion (13) and Scotty Hunter (12) paced 10 West Jeff players who scored.
Casey (13) and Lance Lambert (12) were the top scorers in the loss to the Vikings.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.