The second time around was a different story for both the Canon-McMillan and Wash High boys basketball teams.
After dropping a hard-fought, four-point game to Wash High Dec. 7, Canon-McMillan rebounded with a strong defensive effort Monday night, cruising to 60-43 non-section win over the Prexies. It was the first loss of the season for Wash High.
“This was a big win for us,” said Canon McMillan head coach Rick Bell. “We have gone through a lot as a team so far, and the first time around, we had a reason not to be at our best. But we came out and gave a strong effort for four quarters tonight.”
Both teams started slowly, but while Canon Mac (3-3) started to heat up, the Prexies (6-1) were stuck on only four points 10 minutes into the game.
The Big Macs didn’t allow many easy baskets. The Prexies wanted to feed the ball into the post for most of the first half but weren’t able to do so with success. C-M also had success eliminating the Prexies’ transition offense. Much of that was because the Big Macs took care of the basketball and kept turnovers to a minimum, forcing Wash High to play a half-court game.
“We felt that if we could limit their points off turnovers and stop them from attacking the paint, then we would have a good chance,” Bell said. “Our guards played great as we only had six turnovers all night compared to 16 assists, and we made (the Prexies) take tough and contested shots all night.”
The Big Macs made four three-point field goals, including two by Alex Hammers, that helped them build a 24-17 halftime lead.
The Prexies pulled within four on a couple occasions in the second quarter, but Hammers had an answer each time. His first three-pointer gave the Big Macs a six-point lead and then the junior score five consecutive points late in the second quarter to push Canon Mac up by nine, their largest lead of the half.
“It all started with defense,” Hammers said. “If we missed a shot, we wanted to get five guys back into the paint to limit their athleticism. Offensively, when you have a great guard like Sam Bohn that knows where you are going to be all of the time, I just had to catch the ball and knock down some shots.”
The Big Macs picked up where they left off in the first half as Hammers made his third of four three-pointers to put the Big Macs up by 11 and take the wind out of the Prexies.
“I think the first three of the third quarter was the big one,” Hammers said. “You kind of felt their heads go down after that.”
However, Wash High gained some momentum with an 8-2 run to pull to within 31-26. But the Big Macs answered with an 11-4 run of their own to close the third quarter, all but putting the game out of reach at 42-30.
“We didn’t have enough tonight,” said Wash High head coach Mark Gaither. “Every time we got close, they were able to go back up to double-digits fairly quickly. Canon Mac is a very good team and so are we. We can learn a lot from a loss like tonight. We just have to become a more consistent team.”
The Big Macs didn’t slow down in the fourth quarter either they extended their lead to 20 by continuing to score from behind the three-point line and winning most of the hustle plays and limiting the Prexies to one shot.
Canon-Mac received a lift from its thin bench as Britton Beachy scored seven points and Malik Brown did a good job on the boards and scoring six points.
“I thought Malik was very good,” said Bell. “It was his first game back and he gives us the post presence we really didn’t have. Overall though, it started with our guards. We have some shooters who knock down shot,s and we have a good point guard in Sam, who that recognizes who is hot and gets them the ball.”
Hammers led all scorers with 22 points. Wash High’s DeQuay Isbell had a solid game and was the only other player to score in double figures with 15 points.