Silver Creek senior guard Ryan Baker put up 200-250 outside shots every day this past summer. The practice is paying off.
Baker scored 25 points, including two three-pointers, to lead the Dragons (2-0) to a 61-45 victory Tuesday over visiting Charlestown (0-2). Jamal Long led the Pirates with 13 points in a losing cause.
“All I did was work on my three-point shot and long jumpers every day,” said Baker, who scored eight of his team’s first 10 points and all 11 of their points in the third quarter. “I feel like I’m one of the leaders on the team, but we can have many leaders, if we all work hard and play like that we should do very well this season.”
The first quarter was a high-scoring affair as Charlestown scored five times on layups while Silver Creek sank four three-pointers to lead 20-17 at the first break. Zane Gross hit one of those threes, and another one to open the second period for the Dragons. But after Long hit his only three to cut it to 23-22, the Dragons started going inside on the Pirates, who to that point had been the more physical team.
The result was a 9-2 run to close out the half with Silver Creek leading 32-24.
“I thought the jump shots we took were in rhythm,” said Silver Creek head coach Brandon Hoffman. “But there was definitely an emphasis to get the ball inside. “We tried to get them in foul trouble and tried to get Christian (Reed, 12 points) going a little bit. The jumpshot is not our bread and butter.”
Charlestown was slicing through the Silver Creek defense for layups by guards Shaun Mansfield and Korey Harris, who combined for 18 points for the Pirates. A Mansfield steal and layup cut the lead to 37-32 midway through the third period, and Charlestown later cut it to 41-37 on two free throws by Jordan Knoebel.
But it was Baker to the rescue for the Dragons once again. He hit a jumper to end the third period and two free throws to begin the fourth, stretching the lead to 45-37. To make matters worse, a technical foul was called on Charlestown while Baker was shooting his free throws. Cameron Stephens hit both technical free throws and then Alex Long scored on a layup on the ensuing possession and suddenly it was 49-37.
Charlestown never recovered from that six-point possession, cutting the lead to nine twice in the fourth period but never getting closer than that. The Dragons scored the game’s last eight points to extend the lead to 16 before the buzzer sounded.
“Our guard play was phenomenal,” said Hoffman. “Baker played awesome and Stephens as well. Those two are playing at a very high level together. I think those guys carried us to this win. Ryan’s energy level was awesome tonight and all the work he put in on his shot really paid off in a big way for us.
Charlestown (0-2) – Jamal Long 13, Korey Harris 10, Shaun Mansfield 8, Tanner Wesp 7, Jordan Knoebel 4, Miles Matthews 3.
Silver Creek (2-0) – Ryan Baker 25, Christian Reed 12, Cameron Stephens 8, Zane Gross 8, Zach Densford 4, Alex Long 3, Noah Eckert 1.
3-point goals – Silver Creek 6 (Baker 2, Stephens 2, Gross 2), Charlestown 4 (Harris 2, Long, Matthews).