Nathan Hart, Carson Cuddy and Kam Clark stand together after being recognized at senior night in Mt. Zion last Friday night.
By BLAKE FAITH
The Mt. Zion boys basketball team added three wins to its four game win streak, defeating Richland County, Monticello and Champaign Central.
Against Monticello, the Braves held onto a 17-13 lead halfway through the second quarter. For the first four minutes of the quarter only one basket was scored. Brett Macak passed to Jake Edmondson who nailed the three-pointer. The Braves scored on a free-throw opportunity when Carson Cuddy went one-of-two from the free throw line.
The Braves’ offense started to get their legs underneath them with the help of Jc Anderson. Anderson made back-to-back layups getting the ball in the paint from oases from Kam Clark and Cuddy to give the Braves a 19-13 lead.
Those possessions made way for a Braves’ 12-4 run that included scoring and playmaking from Grant McAtee. McAtee made a steal and scored on the coast-to-cost layup. Next possession, McAtee found Clark for a driving layup and then McAtee made two free-throws to give the Braves a 27-18 lead.
The Braves ended the second quarter ahead 28-22. In the third quarter, Monticello got the game within five points when Ethan Brakke made a three-point play by grabbing the offensive board, making the putback layup and nailing the free-throw to narrow the Braves lead to 32-27.
The Braves then began a 15-6 run to end the third quarter. The run started when Sam Driscoll found an open McAtee who nailed the three-pointer. The run ended with a pair of Brayden Trimble free-throws to end the third quarter and gave the Braves a 47-33 lead.
“You can’t count on offense every night,” Head coach Dale Schuring said. All 32 minutes every game you have to rely on your defense and your rebounding and when we defend and rebound, we can get out and go. And when we’re struggling to score, it has to go back to you can’t allow them to get the 15-6 run,because you’re gonna play defense and rebound and hopefully there. So, you’re gonna have your ups and downs on offense, but the defense has to be consistent.”
McAtee ended the game with 11 points and Trimble added eight points while the high-man Lyncoln Koester had a quiet 15-point night. The Braves went on to defeat Monticello 61-39.
“I don’t think we adjusted to the officiating very well,” Coach Schuring said. “It took us a little too long to adjust to the fact that our tools weren’t going. “I think we tried to do the right things and we made the right plays for the most part, but we just didn’t finish whether it was a three-pointer or at the rim or whatever. Defensively, we were much,much better in the second half. I thought our 1-3-1 defense gave us a lot of opportunities. Obviously our fast break is the key to the game. When we’re out and going like that we’re pretty good.”
The Braves improve to 8-1 overall and are 3-0 in Apollo conference play. This week the Braves will face Normal West and Mattoon.
“We have to continue to improve in our half court offense,” Coach Schuring said. “I think our half court defense right now is pretty good. I’d like to maybe extend that a little bit more often, but we’ll see. So it’s just consistency on the offensive end and it can’t be there a hundred percent of the time, but it’s gotta be better than what it is and it’s a lot to do with execution. It just takes time.”