PITSBURG – The Mississinawa Valley Blackhawks achieved their goal of a balanced scoring attack, by placing four players in double figures, and playing tenacious defense in the first half to overcome the Franklin Monroe Jets 70-50 in a Cross County Conference matchup Friday night.
The Blackhawks’ victory was the second over the Jets in a 10-day span with the earlier being a semifinal game of the Jet Holiday Tournament, 82-60.
“We talked about it before the season started every day in practice,” Mississinawa Valley boys basketball coach Tim Barga said. “We’ve got to have five guys on the floor who can shoot the ball. All five guys have to be a threat. If one guy is not a threat then it’s five on four, and you’re not going to win many games that way. We want every guy to be able to shoot the ball. We don’t look for this guy to score 15-20 points every night. One night one guy gets 20-25. The next night it’s another guy.”
Ethan Bowman led the Blackhawks with 22 points while Devan Rinderle added 16, Trent Perkins 11 and Colyn Nelson 10 also reached double digits. Zach Hyre led all scorers with 23 for the Jets.
In the first quarter both teams’ defenses opened the game well. Neither offense could find any life.
Finally the Blackhawks did. They proceeded on an 11-1 surge covering nearly the final three minutes of the period to open up a 15-6 advantage after eight minutes. They created the lead by pushing the ball down the floor after missed FM shots and gaining fast-break opportunities.
The ball still would not find the bottom of the basket for the Jets. They managed two field goals in the first four minutes of the second quarter but would only add a lone free throw before the half while MV went on a 10-1 run to close the half. The Blackhawks had the lead 27-12 after two periods.
“I thought we were at a position to compete better than we did 10 days ago against the same team,” Jets coach Troy Myers said, “but unfortunately, only scoring 12 points in one half you’re not going to win many high school basketball games.
“Our defense was better. We’re not there yet defensively, but our defense was good enough in the first half, put us in position. We just didn’t score the ball. You know as well as I that the team with the most points wins and when you don’t score it, it’s going to be a long night, and that’s what it was.”
To open the second half both teams took measures to try to pick up the game’s tempo, thus allowing for more offensive opportunities. They both attempted to do this by changing their defensive approaches. The Jets switched out of their two-three zone to a man to man and the Blackhawks used a man-to-man full-court press.
The game was played at a higher speed and the offense flowed more freely. Each team put 17 points in the book for the third quarter. The score now was Mississinawa 44, FM 29.
This was now an up and down the floor game. The teams combined for 47 points in the fourth, but the outcome was never in doubt.
“We just have to find a way to put both ends of the floor together,” Coach Myers said. “Some nights we defend and don’t score, like tonight and sometimes we score and don’t defend. That’s the job of the head coach and the coaching staff to get this group to perform at both ends of the floor. We’re not doing it right now. I take full responsibility … chance to make it right tomorrow. It’s tough when you can’t score.”
Coach Barga said “We’re learning. We went against a good team… I was afraid to come in here tonight. The first half giving up just 12 points … I know we gave up quite a few in the second half. It became a running game. We were scoring. They were scoring. We really need to close games out, and we’re starting to settle down.”
The victory elevates Mississinawa Valley to 4-5 overall and 2-2 in the Cross County Conference while Franklin Monroe falls to 3-5 and 1-3 in the CCC.
The Jets won the junior varsity game 61-31.
Mississinawa Valley – 70
Bowman 22, Perkins 11, Nelson 10, Rinderle 16, Johns 3, Howell 2, Geesey 6.
Franklin Monroe – 50
Ressler 5, Cade McGlinch 3, Peters 3, E Conley 6, Hyre 23, Cody McGlinch 1, B Hesler 6, Koffer 3.
3-pointers: MV: 3 (Bowman, Perkins, Rinderle); FM: 5 (Ressler, Cade McGlinch, Hyre, B Hesler, Koffer).
Free throws: MV: 13-16; FM: 11-15.