A night after slipping by Claymont, Zanesville showed its potential.
The Blue Devils scored 23 points off 18 turnovers and nine players contributed points in a 64-39 rout Saturday of visiting Dayton Jefferson at Winland Memorial Gymnasium.
Stifling defense and good ball movement were evident from the start. Zanesville (6-0) forced 11 first-half turnovers that led to 17 points and had eight of their 15 assists in the first two quarters, building a 22-point halftime lead in the process.
Blue Devils coach Scott Aronhalt credited his team’s focus.
“At the shootaround (Saturday), we watched tape, and those sessions went well. We came out better mentally than we did against Claymont,” he noted. “We played very unselfish. We had good ball movement, and we were able to run our traps, presses and zone defenses.”
Zanesville set the tone from the start. Both teams exchanged baskets to open the game, then the Blue Devils scored nine straight for an 11-2 lead. Malik Bocook’s steal and layup highlighted the spurt, and Jake Phillis hit a jumper to cap the run.
The Broncos cut the lead to 11-5, but Zanesville passed the ball around to Ramon Wilson for a 3-pointer. Phillis then found Granger Long for two before scoring five in a row, including a layup off a Long pass, to make it 21-9 after one.
Phillis, who finished with 12 points and five assists, felt the team-first mentality was the difference.
“We got confidence with that early lead,” he said. “We have great chemistry. Each of us knows where the others are going to be.”
Turnovers allowed the Blue Devils to stretch the lead with another 9-0 run to open the second. Marcus Johnson stole a pass and scored, Dar Stanford assisted on baskets by Bocook and Johnson, and Johnson found Phillis in transition for a 31-9 lead.
Jefferson (1-4) cut the deficit to 33-14 on a 3 by Nate Sheppard, but Thomas Wibbeler knocked down a 3 before the buzzer to put Zanesville up 36-14 at halftime.
Jefferson never was closer than 19 points in the second half.
Zanesville scored the 1,300th win in program history. Johnson said it was a motivating factor, especially on Parents’ night.
“We knew this was a big game, and we had a better attitude,” Johnson said. “They were a more athletic team (than Claymont) so it was important for us to play good defense and play as a team.”