In front of a raucous home crowd, Starr’s Mill exacted revenge against their rival McIntosh in a 58-48 victory on Friday night. The Panthers improved to 12-7 on the season and split the Battle of the Bubble series with the Chiefs.
“I think it is a good win for us and I think it shows everybody that we can compete,” head coach Brandon Hutchins said. “We can compete with anyone in the region.”
Starr’s Mill fed off the energy from their home faithful and were the early aggressors against McIntosh. They pressured the Chiefs all night and forced them into several uncharacteristic mistakes.
The Chiefs committed seven turnovers and were out of sync for much of the night. Starr’s Mill squeezed them in their 3-2 zone and made McIntosh shoot over the top of the defensive alignment.
The strategy helped Starr’s Mill jump out to a 10-7 first quarter lead behind five points from junior forward Nate Allison. He would finish the game with 16 points and several rebounds on the night.
With Allison cooking in the paint, Hutchins implored his team to work the “high-low” offensive set. He wanted to take advantage of the team’s height advantage and get some of the Chiefs in foul trouble.
Once again, the strategy worked as Starr’s Mill went on an 8-0 run to start the second quarter. Allison continued to score and junior forward Julian Lynch started to heat up as well. He scored four points during the stretch to increase the lead into double-digits.
“We did what we try to do all year and that is attack the basket,” Hutchins said. “This game we did a good job at that.”
As for McIntosh, they couldn’t buy a basket in the second quarter. The Chiefs had several easy opportunities to score, but missed the open shots at the rim. It wasn’t until a clutch 3-pointer from senior Cole Guenther that McIntosh snapped their cold spell. The shot gave the Chiefs some momentum as they closed the first half down 22-14.
Guenther finished the game with 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting. He was one of two Chiefs in double-figures as junior guard Bruce Carpenter added 14 points.
The duo’s output wasn’t enough to put McIntosh over the hump in the second half. The Panthers continued to apply defensive pressure and capitalized on turnovers to get easy transition baskets.
“We knew they wanted to shoot the three and we had to drive them off the line,” Hutchins said.
Lynch continued his hot shooting in the third quarter as he added seven points to his point total. He finished the 17 points and added a couple assists. One of his biggest highlight plays was a smooth scoop layup over two Chiefs defenders.
The layup stretched the lead to 31-18 and Starr’s Mill held on in the fourth quarter behind senior forward Drew Hudson, who had 16 points, to cruise to victory.
McIntosh could not get back in the win column Saturday either, falling to non-region foe Woodward Academy 67-49.
Starr’s Mill added another victory by defeating Whitewater 44-37 on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers improved to 6-2 in the region and placed themselves among the Class AAAAA Region 3 leaders.
The Panthers’ front court tandem of Hudson and Allison carried the team against the Wildcats. Hudson scored 12 points and was active on the defensive end of the floor. He blocked shots and grabbed clutch rebounds when Starr’s Mill needed it. He has been playing well of late and continued his output in a big way. Allison also delivered with 13 points and he also altered many shots at the rim.
The duo outpaced the Wildcats and caused several players to be in foul trouble.
Whitewater kept it close with strong guard play from senior guard Josh Lanier. Lanier had 16 points and nearly helped the Wildcats pull off the upset. In the third quarter, he had a stretch of five consecutive points that gave Whitewater their first lead of the game.
It would be short-lived as Starr’s Mill rattled off 24 points to close out the contest. Both teams will be back in action on Tuesday night as Whitewater faces off against Griffin.
Starr’s Mill will face another region test against Morrow and hopes to continue their winning streak and push it to five games.
“It was a great team effort and I am proud of our guys,” Hutchins said.
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