MCCONNELLSBURG - Any time you can hold a boys basketball team to 40 points, you expect to win.
But that happens only if you score more than 40 yourself. McConnellsburg couldn't do that.
The Spartans held Southern Fulton to 15 points fewer than its season average, but they went 8-for-39 from the field and scored only 27 points. That resulted in a 40-27 victory for the Indians on Friday night in a Sideling Hill/Inter-County Conference game.
"Our defense was good, but we didn't work the ball as well as we needed to," McConnellsburg's Jake Boehme said. "Our screens were terrible, and personally, I think we all felt scared. We can beat them with talent, but we have to do what we need to do on the court. We just get scared when we shouldn't."
Both teams took a while to settle into the game, which was tied 5-5 after the first quarter. But it was the Indians (8-2, 5-0 SHL/ICC) who finally got a spark. They held McConnellsburg (9-2, 5-1 SHL, 4-1 ICC) to just three points and only one field goal in the second quarter and took a double-digit lead into halftime.
"This week, we set our sights on improving our defense," SF guard Dylan Gordon said. "Up at the Mountain Cat Tournament and even in the Christmas tournament, we haven't been playing great defense. We've been working on help side, triangle drills, all of that. We knew coming in that defense was going to win this game."
Indians coach Kent Hendershot said, "Overall, our team defense was very good tonight. We've really been pounding the rock with defense, and this week, I think we really started to turn the corner to how we need to defend. Tonight was the epitome of that. We took them out of what they wanted to do."
The Indians also used the boards to their advantage. Southern Fulton had a 32-19 advantage in rebounds, making it difficult for McConnellsburg to get much effective penetration.
Despite the big deficit, the Spartans showed signs of potential sparks. Midway through the second quarter, Boehme nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Spartans within four, and Chase Novak came out of the gate in the fourth quarter with a steal and layup to cut it to eight.
Southern Fulton responded to those momentum swings with seven- and eight-point runs, respectively.
"It's always the highs and lows with this group," McConnellsburg coach Dane Pollock said. "Sometimes they just get comfortable. Some of it's leadership, and maybe that's on me, but they have to keep the foot on the pedal. Just because you did one thing well doesn't mean it's gonna happen again."
Hendershot said, "This team is a pretty veteran team, and I think good teams (respond well). Our mentality coming into this game never got too big; we had to come here and we had a job to do. I told the guys that if everyone wins their battle, we'll win the war."
NOTES >> Gordon finished with the game's only double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds ... He was the only player for either team to finish in double figures ... Boehme and Quintin Miller split 12 points evenly ... Novak had 5 steals for McConnellsburg ... SF committed 17 turnovers, compared to just 9 for the Spartans.
Southern Fulton 40, McConnellsburg 27
So. Fulton (40)
Carl Potter 1 6-9 8, Owen Hawkins 2 0-0 4, Zach Clark 0 2-5 2, Dylan Gordon 3 7-9 13, Trent Rider 4 1-2 9, Logan Beatty 0 0 0-0 0, Branden Lynch 1 0-0 2, Chase Varner 0 0-0 0, Tanner Elbin 0 0-0 0, Mitch Potter 0 2-4 0. Totals — 11 16-25 40.
Jake Boehme 2 0-0 6, Quintin Miller 2 2-4 6, Ryan Koontz 1 0-0 2, Landon Richards 0 1-2 1, Chase Novak 1 2-2 4, Ian Cheatle 1 0-0 2, Nic Culler 0 1-2 1, Chance Hawbaker 0 0-0 0, Ethan Barclay 0 2-2 2, Shawn Garlock 1 0-0 2, Patrick Keefer 0 0-0 0, Logan Little 0 1-2 1. Totals — 8 9-14 27.
So. Fulton _ 5 _ 13 _ 10 _ 12 _ — _ 40
McConnellsburg _ 5 _ 3 _ 11 _ 8 _ — _ 27
3-point goals — McC 2 (Boehme).
JV score — McConnellsburg 41, Southern Fulton 39, OT. Both teams came in undefeated, but Nic Culler hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Spartans the victory. Mitch Potter led the Indians with 15 points, while Ethan Barclay had 14 for McConnellsburg.