By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
After kicking off the 2013-14 season off with back-to-back victories on the road, Southwestern hosted Casey County in their home-opener on Tuesday evening at the Wigwam.
On a night when five different players finished in double figures, the home standing Warriors used a strong second half to come away with a 90-70 victory over the visiting Rebels of Casey County.
The Warriors went into the locker room at the intermission trailing Casey County by a lone point at 36-35. That lead, however, would be short-lived in the second half for the Rebels.
Third-year Warrior coach Steve Wright was pleased with the way his team stepped up in the second half – a half that saw his team outscore the Rebels by a 55-34 margin.
“I thought we were a little flat-footed early and weren’t moving well defensively,” Wright. “We weren’t mentally sharp early in the game, and that got us in trouble. The kids made some adjustments at halftime and played sharper in the second half.”
Midway through the third period, Southwestern went on a 13-1 run that included a 6-0 spurt to run out to a 63-48 lead over the Rebels. The run included three-point plays from sophomore Adam Isaacs and eighth-grader Steven Fitzgerald, along with a trey from Isaacs. Senior post players John Perkins and Robbie Miller added baskets on the run.
After three quarters in the books, the Warriors led by a 14-point margin at 64-50. Fitzgerald had a big third frame for Southwestern, tallying 9 of his 17 points in that eight-minute span.
“We did some really good things offensively in the second half,” told Wright. “We had a smaller line-up in the game and that was a really good five- to six-minute spurt where defensively, we got the ball under control. We hit the basket in the second half and got things going.”
Southwestern would go on to win by a 20-point margin to move to a perfect 3-0 on the year. The Warriors now have wins over Danville, Monroe County, and Casey County.
The Warriors were led in scoring by Fitzgerald and senior Justin Edwards, who both scored 17 points in the win. Edwards had a double-double in the home-opener, pulling down 13 rebounds to go along with his 17-point performance.
Junior Dylan Gaskin had 16 points and 6 boards to go along with a dunk that brought the house down in the opening minutes of the contest. Isaacs chimed in with 14 points, while Miller finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds.
Wright is really liking his team three games into the new basketball season.
“I think our inside play is better and stronger this year,” said the SWHS coach. “Our post play has improved dramatically. I’m really excited about our chemistry, considering it’s almost a whole new team. Our chemistry is pretty good and our work ethic is pretty good – we’re coming together as a team.”
Casey County grabbed an early lead over the Warriors, as they led 19-16 after one quarter in the books. The Rebels’ Collin Miller tallied 11 of his 20 points in the first period.
Southwestern will travel to Monticello on Friday evening to face defending 12th Region champion Wayne County in a 48th District clash. That game will get underway at 7:30 p.m. at the Wayne County High School gymnasium.
Follow Michael Childers on Twitter: @GetChili22
CC – 19 17 14 20 – 70
SW – 16 19 29 26 – 90
CASEY COUNTY (2-2): Smith 23, Miller 20, Hayes 9, Hill 7, Clark 5, Davis 4, Brown 2.
SOUTHWESTERN (3-0): Fitzgerald 17, Edwards 17, Gaskin 16, Isaacs 14, Miller 10, Butt 6, Phelps 3, Dykes 3.
The following players were accidentally left out of last week’s season preview featuring the Southwestern Warriors: senior Robbie Miller, sophomores Michael Richardson and Issiah Jones, freshman Peyton Cundiff, and eighth-grader Hunter Stephens. Miller will provide senior leadership for the team and make a big impact inside the paint this season for the Warriors.