Saturday night’s boys basketball matchup between West Lafayette and Attica was dictated by perhaps the most basic element of the game: size.
By simply looking up and down the rosters, or catching a glimpse of the pre-game warmup, it was clear that Attica was outmatched in the post. This disparity translated into a 76-43 victory for the Red Devils in Berbarian Gymnasium.
Despite the final score, the game was hard-fought and neck-and-neck early. Through one quarter, West Lafayette clung to a 16-14 lead. Attica (2-4) was meticulous in its ball movement, slowing down the pace in an attempt to compensate for lack of post presence.
Near the five-minute mark in the second quarter, Attica sophomore guard Bryce Cooper picked up his third personal foul, compromising his playing time. West Lafayette coach Dave Wood instructed his team to adjust defensively by implementing a halfcourt trap. This change in scheme ultimately led to 20 Attica turnovers, off which the Red Devils scored 31 points.
A 19-4 run gave West Lafayette a 35-18 halftime lead.
Senior forwards Justus Stanback and Brian Bangs, who are listed at 6-foot-9 and 6-5, respectively, towered over the Red Ramblers, whose tallest player stands 6-2.
Stanback and Bangs combined for 24 points and 16 rebounds. However, these two took a back seat in paint scoring to junior William Mbongo. The 6-4 forward posted a career-high 20 points to go along with four rebounds and a blocked shot.
“I thought William really energized us off the bench,” Wood said. “He and Jay Chapman brought a lot of energy into the game when we needed it.
“Tonight, we played with effort, energy and togetherness that, frankly, hasn’t been there all season. I thought that was key.”
In just 13 minutes of total playing time, Mbongo went 8 of 8 from the field, and 4 of 6 from the free throw line. Mbongo spoke with confidence when reflecting on his performance.
“Since the J&C Hoops Classic, we’ve been working really hard in practice,” Mbongo said. “Since we’ve been working harder, Fridays and Saturdays are time to show it off. Tonight wasn’t anything unusual for me. It just comes with being mentally prepared. I felt like ‘I’ve done this 20 times in practice, so I was definitely ready.”
West Lafayette outrebounded Attica 35-21 and scored 24 second-chance points.