After crossing over his defender in the first half, junior guard Shemar Isom could only get one dribble inside the arc before a crowd of hands knocked the ball back beyond the 3-point line.
With Jay County’s match-up zone defense packed so tight in the lane, even good moves turned into near turnovers for Southside in Friday’s game.
The Patriots (5-0) swarmed seemingly any and all offensive attacks by the Rebels (2-4), holding them to seven points in the first half en route to a 56-28 win.
“It was New Castle all over again,” Southside coach Jeff Howard said. “We couldn’t guard people consistently off the dribble. As opposed to how they guarded us — they bumped us, they bodied us. And then when we got in the lane, there was somebody there waiting. Because we’re not the greatest outside shooting team, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the game plan is. We played right into their hands because we wouldn’t shoot.”
Howard said his team’s reluctance to shoot dug them a hole that was insurmountable. By halftime, Jay County led 24-7 and Southside was still looking for answers on both ends of the floor.
The Patriots’ senior tandem of Brock McFarland and Kegan Comer took turns knifing into the lane and scoring over any Rebels’ defenders who happened to be in the way. The two guards combined to shoot 13-of-19 from the floor, scoring 21 and 14 points, respectively.
“They were very aggressive going to the rack,” Howard said. “Those two guys, No. 4 and No. 23, they look like they have been playing some pretty elite basketball.”
Jay County coach Craig Teagle said Comer and McFarland’s success in Friday’s game can be traced back to their history of playing together. The two have been on the same team since elementary school, including a couple summers together on the AAU circuit.
That type of chemistry showed itself on the court against Southside. Comer and McFarland hit each other in stride on seemingly ever pass. Their familiarity was arguably the catalyst for the Patriots’ entire offense.
“They just know where each other is going to be,” Teagle said. “I don’t even think they have to look. They just have an idea of how to attack and where to deliver the ball and stuff. They’re really fun to watch when they do that.”
After Southside knocked off No. 3 Wapahani on Dec. 8, it seemed Friday’s game would be more competitive. Howard said his team never got too high after the win and knew Friday would be a tough game if they weren’t ready.
“They were everything I thought they would be — very disciplined,” Howard said. “They came in very confident. Maybe they are the 11th ranked team in the state at 4A or maybe they’re top five. I don’t know, but they played well tonight at their place, so take nothing from them.”