DRESDEN – Sheridan showed the sort of grit and determination that first-year head coach Doug Fisher hopes to see more of this season.
Unfortunately for the Generals, they also saw plenty of Marcus Dempsey.
Dempsey scored 22 of his game-high 29 points in the second half, including a three-point play during a deciding stretch in the fourth quarter, as host Tri-Valley puled away for a 62-49 Muskingum Valley League win Tuesday. It was the season opener for both teams.
Sheridan trimmed a 13-point lead to 43-40 with 5:38 left on Dylan Dupler’s 3-pointer from the top of the key, but the 6-1 Dempsey scored eight points in the next 2:35 to help the Scotties pull away.
Dempsey’s three-point play on a drive along the baseline, after the Scotties called timeout to stop the Generals’ momentum, pushed the lead back to six points. Logan Hittle followed a Sheridan miss with a three-point play of his own the next time down, extending Tri-Valley’s lead to 49-40 with 4:45 to play.
Sheridan, which missed seven of its last nine shots, never got closer than six the rest of the way.
“We had to keep our composure,” Tri-Valley coach Todd McLoughlin said. “We just had to be solid defensively because there was still a lot of time left at that time, about four or five minutes. There were times we just got ourselves out of position, gambled and didn’t finish a possession with a block out, and those things killed us. We’re not good enough to do that.”
Dempsey and Dupler, who scored a career-high 26 with a trio of 3s, all but carried their respective teams’ offenses, especially in the second half. After being held scoreless in the first quarter, Dempsey scored seven points in the second and tallied his team’s final 12 in the third quarter — six came on a pair of NBA-length 3-pointers.
It came after Sheridan, which never led, pulled within 28-25 three minutes into the second half.
“Marcus is going to have some really good nights,” McLoughlin said. “He really got a lot better over the summer.”
Poor shooting stretches hurt both teams — the Generals shot only 33 percent — but the coaches came away with enough positives to see improvement on the horizon.
“I thought we fought and scrapped to stay in it,” Fisher said. “We were sloppy offensively. We cut it to 43-40 and then couldn’t get the stops we needed. That was a really big swing right there.”
Tyler McGee added 15 points, including a 4-of-6 effort at the line in the fourth. Dempsey was 8 of 9 at the stripe, as the Scotties were 18 of 23 overall and a steady 20 of 46 from the field.
Jake McLoughlin, who guarded the 6-5 Dupler for much of the fourth quarter, had nine points with team highs of seven rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots. He also had three assists.
“We’re still trying to work some football legs out us. We’re going to be a little bit better as the year progresses when some of our younger guys step up a little,” Todd McLoughlin said. “Marcus, Tyler and Jake right now are the only ones we have with (previous) varsity minutes. Our other guys will step up eventually, it’s just a matter of time.”
Fisher echoed those sentiments.
“We did a lot of things well, even though it didn’t show up on the scoreboard,” Fisher said. “I liked how we fought.”
Sheridan: 15-46 FG, 14-19 FT, 5-13 3pt. (D. Dupler 3, Heller, C. Dupler), 26 rebounds (D. Dupler 10), 14 turnovers, 3 assists, 4 steals. Scoring: Collins 0 0-0 0; Heller 4 1-2 10, Hickman 0 0-1 0, C. Dupler 2 0-0 5, D. Dupler 7 9-12 26, Fisher 1 0-0 2, Knox 1 4-4 6.
Tri-Valley: 20-46 FG, 18-23 FT, 4-12 3pt. (Dempsey 3, McGee) 24 rebounds (McLoughlin 7, McGee 4, Brock 3, Hittle 3), 9 turnovers, 10 assists (McGee 4, Hittle 3, McLoughlin 3), 11 steals (McLoughlin 4, Hittle 3). Scoring: Nolder 0 0-0 0; Cameron 1 0-0 2, Gaiters 0 0-0 0, Hittle 1 3-3 5, Dempsey 9 8-9 29, McGee 4 6-8 15, McLoughlin 4 1-3 9, Craig 0 0-0 0, Brock 1 0-0 2, King 0 0-0 0.