MT. LEBANON – The Canon McMillan boys basketball team came into their Section 4-AAAA game Friday night against Mt. Lebanon riding a four-game winning streak.
Because of an ice-cold second half, that number didn’t reach five.
Mt. Lebanon broke open a two-point game at the half by limiting the Big Macs to only four points in the third quarter as the Blue Devils gained a much needed 51-37 section win.
“We preached that the most important part of the game would be the first three minutes of the third quarter,” said Mt. Lebanon head coach Joey David. “We got the jump on them early and defended well and it proved to be the difference.”
Canon Mac (3-2, 7-5) stayed in the game thanks to freshman guard Britton Beachy.
Beachy scored the Big Macs’ first four points of the game and had 12 first-half points, accounting for more than half of C-M’s scoring before intermission.
“I don’t look at Britton as a freshman, and I don’t coach him that way,” said Canon-Mac head coach Rick Bell. “He’s a player and can do a lot of big things to help us. He had a very solid night.”
The Big Macs also got a nice first-half lift off the bench from Malik Brown, who scored six points as CM led 12-8 after one quarter.
Mt. Lebanon (3-2, 4-7) had success early getting the ball down low to big men Patrick Ehland and Max Li, but Canon-Mac was able to take that away for most of the early going.
Beachy gave Canon Mac a bit of breathing room in the second quarter with back-to-back three-pointers, but Mt. Lebo came right back with a pair of baskets from in the lane from Li to take a 19-18 advantage.
Once the Big Macs’ defense started collapsing in the lane, the Blue Devils started finding open perimeter shooters as they made a trio of three-point shots to take a 24-22 lead into the half.
Things did not go the Big Macs’ way in the third quarter at all.
The Blue Devils opened the second half by scoring the first six points to stretch their lead to eight, and a three-pointer by Blue Devils guard Eddie Jenkins stretched the Mt. Lebanon lead to 10, which was enough cushion the rest of the way.
Ultimately, though, the Blue Devils’ size advantage came into play.
Ehland scored 14 points and Li had eight before getting into foul trouble.
“Their length bothered us,” said Bell. “Not just the damage in the paint, but the way they defended the perimeter. I thought there were times when we had three’s we would normally take but their length made us hesitate.”
The biggest difference though was the Mt. Lebanon defense, which made things tough on the Big Macs all night.
C-M scored only 15 points the entire second half and the Blue Devils’ sticky defense made it tough on the Big Macs’ guards. Point guard Sam Bohn was held to only three late points and Alex Hammers finished with eight points.
“We came out and played some aggressive man-to-man,” said David. “I think that caught their guards off guard a little bit,”
Not being able to match the size of the Blue Devils, the Big Macs had trouble creating enough space to get open looks on the perimeter. When they get free, the Big Macs made 44 percent of their three-point attempts compared to 24 percent from two-point range.
“We certainly have shot it better,” said Bell. “It’s no secret. They came in with the game plan of not letting Sam and Alex beat them. We just have to forget about it and quoting (Pirates manager) Clint Hurdle, after a loss I always tell the guys to wash it off. Forget about it and move on to our next game.”
Beachy led the Big Macs with 18 points, while Ehland (14) and Jenkins (12) finished in double figures for Mt. Lebanon.