Wherever a green and white jersey went Tuesday night, purple and gold was not far behind.
Relentless defensive pressure was Hagerstown’s calling card, and the Tigers ran their way to a 68-23 season-opening win over Randolph Southern.
Tied 8-8, Hagerstown closed the first quarter with an 11-0 run, thanks in large part to a suffocating effort on defense.
“Defense, they really push it in practice,” said Hagerstown senior Bryan Mathews, who led all scorers with 20 points. “Just the way we come out, and our intensity, that’s what makes the defense work.”
The Tigers got the offense going, too.
Thorin Stage netted 15 points, freshman Jared Andis added 14 and 10 Tigers scored points in the victory.
“Our energy tonight was really good,” said Hagerstown coach Bobby Jones. “I thought our defensive effort was really good.
“We were getting a lot of wide-open shots at the beginning of the game. They just weren’t falling. Our guys buckled down, tried to get a few easy ones, got our offense flowing and things opened up for us. It was a good team effort.”
Randolph Southern’s Kyle Armstrong knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game 8-all with 3:59 left in the opening period.
The Rebels went into a scoring drought until a Dillon Jones free throw early in the second quarter, then again until an inside basket by Matt Bedel with 2:18 left before halftime.
“Maybe we got tired, maybe the adrenaline of starting the game wore off. … The team I saw for the last three-and-a-half quarters is not the team I’ve seen for the last three months,” said first-year Rebels coach Scott Beaman. “We didn’t move our feet defensively. We’re not coming off screens the right way.
“We have a lot of work to do, and the great thing about basketball is you have another one coming up.”
Armstrong paced the Rebels with nine points, while Jones added seven points and a team-high six rebounds.
Armstrong and Clayton Retter also had five rebounds for Randolph Southern, which faces another team from the Tri-Eastern Conference on Friday when the Rebels (0-1) travel to county foe Winchester.
“Let’s go and get to work and fix it,” Beaman said. “We’re big picture. We’re trying to get better for March. We understand it’s a marathon, and we’re just trying to get better every game.”
Mathews and Stage had six rebounds each for the Tigers, with Zach Davis contributing five points and five rebounds.
Mathews went 5-of-5 shooting from the field in the second half, and the Tigers closed the third quarter with another 11-0 run.
“It’s really nice, especially coming in with three weeks of practice, finally getting the game,” Mathew said.
Hagerstown (1-0) is at home Saturday against Cowan.
“I thought our kids did a decent job of keeping their hands off and moving their feet and staying between their man and the basket,” Jones said. “The defensive effort was there.”