UNION CITY – It was a “feeding frenzy” underneath the basket for the Mississinawa Valley boys basketball team on Saturday night.
The feed came from everywhere on the court and the Blackhawks got the ball to senior D.J. Howell and the frenzy came as Howell scored practically at will for a career-high 28 points in leading his team to a 75-54 opening night win over state-line rival Union City (Ind.).
Howell had nine buckets and nailed 10 free throws for his 28 points. The rest of the team had 10 free throws combined.
“I have to credit all my teammates for the good passes and all,” said Howell, who racked up 15 points by halftime. “Guys were feeding me the ball and I was able to get into a grove early on. I’m a little surprised at getting 28 points though, and I’m not really good at free throws so I was surprised about that too. I’m sure everybody surprised about that. It was just a fun win to start the season.”
Mississinawa Valley coach Tim Barga was surprised at Howell’s successful free throws as well.
“I’m not kidding you, I’m surprised he made one after the way he shot last year,” Barga said with a chuckle. “He probably made 10 foul shots all year last year, but he made them tonight and he has just gotten better all the way around. They just couldn’t guard him. He is a force on the inside no doubt.”
Howell had 9 points by the 4:01 mark of the first quarter that helped the Blackhawks establish comm,and of the game early with an 11-5 lead. They finished the opening frame with twice as many points as the Indians at 14-7. He added 6 more points by halftime for 15 at the break. but it was senior Kyler Guillozet who electrified the crowd by draining a 3-pointer from the corner as the end of the first half buzzer sounded giving Mississinawa a 36-23 lead.
Each team scored 3 points in the opening minutes of the second half and then Mississinawa went on an 8-0 run to extend its lead to 47-26. And just like in the closing seconds of the first half, Mississinawa got a 3-point buzzer beater to end the third quarter, this time by Max Dirmeyer that had the capacity crowd on its feet as the Blackhawks took a 58-33 lead into the final period.
Though Union City won the final quarter (21-17) it wasn’t nearly enough to climb out of the hole it was in and the Blackhawks cruised to the 21-point victory.
“I wasn’t expecting that many points,” Barga said. “We tried to tell the boys before the game that we have a better team this year than we had last year. We tried to tell them if you play as a team we are going to be better. And they played as a team tonight.
“They had nice passes and it was every guy on the team,” he continued. “I can’t say one guy did more than this guy. Will Hall had a really nice game. He’s not the greatest shooter on the team, but he rebounds and passes and does so many things. He’s an all-around nice player. Blake Scholl got in foul trouble and still had 12 points. He is going to be a threat on both ends of the court. Max Dirmeyer did a heck of a job at the point, and Trent Collins did an excellent job too. I can’t sit here and say anything different about one than I do the other. They all came out strong.”
After Howell’s 28 points, Blake Scholl had 12 for the Blackhawks. Collins and Dirmeyer added 9 and 8 points respectively. Union City had one player – Zerrin Cantu – reach double figures with 16 points. They also had 9 points from John Carpenter and 8 points from Weston Mote.
“I’m real happy with our shooting tonight,” Barga said. “We didn’t run our offense a few times when we wanted to, but we have so many offenses it is hard to sit back and say hey this is what we’re going to do so that makes it nice these kids are that smart that they can do that stuff. Since I have been here this is probably the first good first game we’ve had. It is nice to have the guys come out and play well. They all did well and I’m real happy for the boys and the fans. We’ve always had good fans and I appreciate that.”
Both teams return to action on Friday night. Union City will host Winchester Community at 7:30 p.m. and Mississinawa Valley will travel to Covington for a 7:30 p.m. tip off.
Score by quarters
Union City (Ind.)^7^16^10^21^-^54
Union City – Weston Mote 4 0 8, Jacob Moore 0 1 1, Zerrin Cantu 4 6 16, Mason Good 2 0 4, Bryten Stewart 0 2 2, Hunter Reagan 2 0 5, John Carpenter 4 0 9, Jeffery Thornton 1 2 4, Maverick Luster 2 1 5. Totals: 19 12 54.
Mississinawa Valley – Max Dirmeyer 1 5 8, Will Hall 1 0 2, Trent Collins 4 1 9, Kyler Guillozet 2 1 7, Josh Fett 2 1 6, Cody Dirksen 1 1 3, Blake Scholl 5 1 12, D.J. Howell 9 10 28. Totals: 25 20 75.
3-pointers: Union City 4 (Cantu 2, Reagan, Carpenter), Mississinawa Valley 5 (Guillozet 2, B. Scholl, Dirmeyer, Fett).
Records: Union City (2-2), Mississinawa Valley (1-0).
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.