Smith-Cotton got 18 points from Blake Longan in a 65-47 win over Clinton in West Central Conference boys basketball on Tuesday at Smith-Cotton.
“All I was focused on was trying to square and score,” he said. “That’s what coach has been hammering me on. Whenever we broke the press, it opened up the lane and the guard would dish it to me. It was wide open.”
The junior forward easily surpassed his previous career high of eight points.
“That’s by far his best game of the year,” said Smith-Cotton coach Ray Hughes. “He comes in and works hard in practice every day and it’s just a confidence factor with him. It’s good to see some of his hard work pay off.”
Smith-Cotton jumped out to an early lead, outscoring Clinton 19-4 in the first quarter, holding the Cardinals to 2 of 12 shooting from the field while the Tigers shot 8 of 12. Six of those Tiger baskets in the first quarter came in the paint. The other two were open 3-pointers from Brady Ritzert and Chance Johnson.
“We just started looking for easy opportunities,” Hughes said. “We were able to get some guys some open looks and they knocked it down. They were able to make some plays defensively.”
Zach Wolf got the Tigers started with seven points in the first quarter.
“We wanted him to be more assertive,” Hughes said. “We wanted him to work harder on getting better position. We felt he was posting up from too far and we wanted him to be more decisive.”
In addition to a basket in the paint and a layup in
transition after a Dakota Brown steal, Wolf hit a reverse layup and drew a foul, converting a 3-point play.
“We worked a lot in practice on post-to-post work and I think that helped out a lot,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I was on fire. I was just getting wide open looks because of what coach had us doing in practice. He had us cutting into the right spots. It was all in the gameplan.”
Clinton committed 19 turnovers in the game, resulting in 18 Smith-Cotton points.
“We came out aggressively in man and we were trapping too,” Wolf said. “I think they felt pressure from that and we were rotating. Every shot they shot was contested. We were getting to the spots. We were working hard.”
In the second quarter, Clinton got two quick baskets from Zach Adams to cut Smith-Cotton’s lead to 19-8 but then Longan found his stride, hitting a free throw, then a layup, then getting a steal for another layup to make it 24-10. Moments later he hit a jumper, then got a steal on the other end which led to Johnson hitting a free throw. Spencer Ruckman followed that with a 3-pointer to make it 30-13.
Smith-Cotton extended the lead to 20 early in the third quarter when Ritzert got a steal and Johnson knocked down a 3-pointer.
Dalton Christian followed that with a 3-point play as the Tigers opened a 41-16 lead, scoring the first eight points of the half.
Clinton had the lead back down to 20 points heading into the fourth quarter, but neither team made a run in the fourth as Longan and Adams traded baskets.
The Tigers (7-12, 2-4 WCC) will visit league-leading Center at 7 p.m. Friday.
Smith-Cotton at KC Center
7 p.m. Friday
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