For all its defensive effort, the Chiles boys’ basketball team had little first-quarter offensive reward to show Friday night.
And that’s when Timberwolves guard Austin Greene jumped as high as he could from deep on the left wing.
Greene gave an emphatic salute to the packed Chiles gym after his 3-pointer swished home, his team holding Maclay to just two points in the first quarter on the way to a 55-45 win.
“That’s a tone setter,” said Timberwolves guard Justin Mischler. “As soon as someone makes the first shot, it loosens everybody up. You’re ready to shoot the ball and contribute. It gets the whole crowd into it, but it also gets your teammates into it.”
Maclay (3-5) looked shocked to see the swarm created by Chiles’ trapping zone defense, which led to 11 first-half turnovers by the Marauders, who struggled to put away any rushed looks they did get.
“No one’s going to win if you turn the ball over on four of the first five possessions, and we did,” Maclay coach Mike McGrotha said. “We had to handle the ball better and make better decisions. But we did fight back. We just didn’t get five guys in sync with each other.”
Chiles (5-2) barely turned the ball over but equally couldn’t convert until Greene raised up a little higher to get his moon shot to the rim.
“He is fearless,” said Timberwolves coach Todd McNeil about Greene, who scored 14 and picked five steals. “That was a big shot, and he hit another big shot later on.”
The fearlessness was contagious, for once Maclay adjusted after halftime and Chiles was less aggressive in its defense, it came time for someone else to step up.
The Marauders cut the deficit to five, but Chiles forward Grant Phillips (10 points) and Mischler (13 points) buried back-to-back 3s to expand the lead again.
“In shoot-around, we thought we could set some screens and really get open,” Greene said. “We felt good then and came out and did it in the game.”
And when Maclay senior sharp-shooter J.T. Escobar (15 points) hit two 3s in a row to cut the fourth-quarter margin to just four, Mischler bombed a 3, Mike Dunn made a layup, and Greene knocked down a mid-range jumper and another deep “trey” to push the lead to 51-37.
Clay Meenan scored 11 for Maclay, which won’t play again until January, while Austen Barfield grabbed 10 rebounds for Chiles, which knocked down nine 3-pointers in the game.
“This is always a good test for us to be able to handle that kind of pressure, just because the crowd is rowdy and packed,” said McNeil, who lauded the cohesion and unselfishness of the current bunch. It wasn’t always that way.
“Last year was rough, but we started gelling,” Mischler said. “Our record last year was questionable, but this year we’re out to prove people wrong, that we can play and we’re serious.”