The undefeated Twin Lakes Indians turned up the defensive pressure to break open a close game in the third quarter on their way to a 75-44 victory over Benton Central in the first round of the J&C Hoops Classic at the Crawley Center Monday night.
The Indians, 3-0, will play host Lafayette Jeff, another undefeated team, in the winner’s bracket game on Friday night. Benton Central (1-2) will play the Frankfort on Thursday.
Twin Lakes went into the locker room at halftime with a 39-30 lead, when Indians coach Kent Adams decided to abandon his full court pressure in favor of a more aggressive half-court defense, which did the trick.
The Indians outscored the Bison 27-4 in the third quarter to take control of the game.
“In the first half our intensity just wasn’t there,” said Bryce Bennington, who scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. “We weren’t hustling and we weren’t playing hard. In the second half we picked up our intensity and stopped playing slow. We were able to get turnovers and turn them into points.”
Twin Lakes scored the first 17 points of the third while Benton Central went through what coach Kyle Marlatt called his team worst shooting night of the young season, missing six shots while committing six of its 13 turnovers over the same third-quarter stretch.
Overall, Benton Central shot 30 percent from the field (15 of 50) and 19 percent (4 for 21) from the 3-point line. Twin Lakes shot 40 percent (30 of 74) from the field.
“They did a great job with their defensive pressure in the second half and we struggled to find the basket,” Marlatt said. “Actually, we’ve got the ball well in our first two games. In one game, we made 15 3-pointers. Tonight our luck just ran out a little bit.”
Twin Lakes forward Dane Holmes, who also scored 18 points, got in foul trouble with two calls in the first quarter and missed the good portion of the second half. With the help of Bennington and Kris Goodlow off the bench, the Indians actually extended their lead with 13-5 run that gave them a 36-25 edge with 1:40 left before halftime.
Goodlow finished the game with 11 points while Matt Conrad added 13 points.
“I’ve got a lot of trust in my teammates that they’re going to step up,” Holmes said. “We have a pretty solid bench this year and they’ve been able to be productive. (Goodlow’s) energy is phenomenal. He was hustling and getting a lot of rebounds.”
Another thing had made a huge difference for Twin Lakes was rebounding, which dominated the boards with a 50-34 edge. The importance of that battle scored up in small ways in the Indians’ second quarter run.
Leading 23-20, Bryce Bennington missed three shots, but came down with the rebound between Bison defenders each time, and kicked it out to Justin Crabb who drained an uncontested 3-pointer at the top of the key.
“He’s got the ability to do that,” Adams said. “He’s 6-2 and jumps real well and we expect him to do that. When he does, it makes us so much better because everyone else is going to rebound, too.”
Marlatt said in the end, the maturity of Twin Lakes won out against his younger squad.
“We just have a lot of guys who haven’t seen a lot of varsity minutes,” Marlatt said. “They have a lot of experience and applied a lot of pressure and we didn’t handle the ball well in those situations.”