By Blake Faith
The Mt. Zion Braves went 2-0 last week which included two Apollo conference wins against Matton and Charleston.
Against Mattoon, the Braves won 67-48.
Against Charleston, the Braves started off with the momentum from the opening whistle. Ethan Hamrick stole the ball on Charleston’s first possession and made the driving layup. Seconds later Hamrick made another driving layup.
The Trojans scored their first basket when Cameron Dunklin found Jackson Becker for a driving layup to make the score 4-2.
Hamrick then confined the Braves run by finding Carson Cuddy for back to back three-pointers to make the score 10-3. Hamrick then stole the ball and made back to back layups to give the Braves a 14-3 lead. Hamrick scored or assisted on the first 14 points for the Braves.
The Braves outscored the Trojans 32-12 to begin the first quarter. The Braves started the second quarter hitting shots with Cuddy scoring 11 straight points for the Braves nailing a three-pointer and making goir two-point baskets to make the score 43-16.
The Braves took a 52-23 lead and went into the third quarter building the lead to 60-30. The Trojans then went on their own run.
The Trojans went on a 7-0 run that started off a William Applegate driving layup and ended with a Jaksen Braun three-point play off of an offensive rebound to cut the lead to 60-34. The Trojans went on to a 14-6 run to end the quarter trailing 66-48.
The Trojans started the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run that included four points from Braun and a pair of two-point baskets and a three-pointer from Dunklin to make the score 68-59.
The Braves regained control and would finish on a 16-6 run to make the score 84-64.
“I’m not sure we can play any better in the first half but I’m hoping we can’t play any worse than we did in the second,” Head coach Dale Schuring said. “It was very inconsistent. You can’t have those highs and lows like that within a game or even game to game. You know the first half was exceptional, the second half was not good. We didn’t move the ball or share the ball in the second half and defensively, we didn’t adjust defensively. We put them at the free-throw line and they’re scoring with the clock not running and the clock is our ally and not our enemy. And we just did not adjust the officiating so that’s another thing we got to talk about and adjust to some games you can do what we did tonight you can’t but we didn’t adjust to it.”
The Braves had four players score in double-figures in the Charleston game. Hamrick led all scorers with 32 points, Cuddy scored 19, Kam Clarked added 12 points and Lyncoln Koester added 11 for the Braves.
“We’ve had a couple players that have been very consistent in double figures to have four that’s exceptionally good,” Coach Schuring said. Obviously you’re going to have that if you score 84 points, but we can’t rely on our offense to do that every night.”
The Braves improve to 14-4 overall and 3-3 in conference play. This week the Braves will play Rantoul, Lincoln and Tolono Unity. The takeaway that the Braves will work on prior to this week is guarding the ball one-on-one and hope to implant that in these games.
By Blake Faith