A second-quarter surge carried Winchester a long way Friday night.
All the way to a season-opening win.
The Falcons broke open a tie game in a big way, scoring 11 straight points on the way to a 66-35 win over county foe Randolph Southern.
Winchester’s Kiante Enis scored the Falcons’ final 10 points of the first quarter, then started off the second with a steal and a thunderous dunk that elicited loud cheers from the home crowd at Winchester Fieldhouse.
“I thought we had some nerves when we came out early to start the game,” said Winchester coach Rick Owens, whose squad was tied 11-11 with the Rebels after one quarter.
“They kicked it up, to their credit. Their intensity was just so much better, and that’s to their credit. I’m really proud of how hard they played.”
Enis scored a game-high 20 points, followed by 11 from teammate Elias Gates, a freshman.
Brandon Edwards and Jordan Mills each netted eight points for the Falcons, who carried a 37-17 lead into halftime.
“That’s as hard as we’ve played for a while,” Owens said. “The effort was just great.”
On the other side of the floor, Randolph Southern coach Scott Beaman praised his team’s effort, too.
Despite the loss, Beaman saw vast improvements from a Rebels team that fell 68-23 to Hagerstown in its season opener on Tuesday.
“The way we played tonight, for 32 minutes, we gave effort for 32 minutes,” Beaman said. “We tried to do the things we’ve been trying to teach since June.”
Randolph Southern scored the game’s first points on a 3-pointer by Clayton Retter less than a minute into the contest.
The Randolph County rivals traded the lead back and forth, before Southern’s Dillon Jones tied it 11-all with an inside basket late in the first.
Baylee Farmer led the Rebels with 11 points, while Jones scored nine.
“First-game jitters I think are gone,” Beaman said. “We tried to play, and we played even with them for a quarter.”
Randolph Southern (0-2) travels next Friday to Union City, another county opponent and a third straight Tri-Eastern Conference team.
Matt Thornburg, Jordan Yaryan and Alan Brutchen all had five points for the Falcons, who displayed a good ability to work the ball around and employed Winchester’s traditionally tough pressing defense.
The Falcons (1-0) return to action Tuesday at Muncie South, and are on the road again next Friday when they travel to Wapahani.
“It’s nice to get that first win,” Owens said. “I think part of it was we went to our press, and that got them settled in and kind of got our intensity up.”