Luke Schafer scored 20 points and A.J. Westover 16 for the East Mills boys basketball team in a 73-66 victory over Riverside on Friday.
The Wolverines (12-8) outscored Riverside 44-34 after halftime.
Jake Doyle added 14 and Jake Bolton 15 points and 16 rebounds for East Mills.
East Mills 59,
The East Mills boys basketball team didn’t exactly shoot the lights out, but it did enough with its trapping zone and clutch shooting in a 19-4 second-quarter spurt to defeat Essex 59-46 last Tuesday.
With a power outage in Malvern moving the Corner Conference game 13 miles down the road to the East Mills Middle School, the Wolverines seemed right at home in the former home of Nishna Valley High School.
After a slow start that saw them turn the ball over on 3-of-4 possessions to open the game and miss its first five shots, the Wolverines settled into a three-quarter court trap that confounded the Trojans. Once trailing 9-5 in the first quarter, East Mills took over the game on a 19-4 run to open the second quarter.
“We wanted to get into that early (the three-quarter court trap) but you have to make baskets to set it up and we didn’t do that early,” said East Mills coach Kevin Schafer. “We’re a perimeter based team right now and when we don’t hit shots its hard for us.”
The Wolverines led 28-21 at the half.
The Trojans quickly cut that lead to 30-25 in the opening minutes of the third quarter, but the Wolverines, as they did all night, responded. Just when the Trojans looked like they might be making a push, there was Wolverine guard Jake Doyle to hit a big shot.
When Ethan Funderman’s layup trimmed the Wolverines once 13-point lead to seven, Doyle nailed his second of three three pointers in the quarter. Doyle scored 11 of his 13 in the decisive third frame to give East Mills a comfortable 45-34 lead heading into the fourth.
“He really sparked us,” said Schafer of his junior guard.
The Trojans trimmed the Wolverines’ lead 49-43 on Kyle Bangston’s layup with less than five minutes to go in the game but they could get no closer as East Mills hit 7-of-8 free throws over the final minutes to secure the win.
Essex coach Scott Salthun credited the Wolverines’ aggressive defense for disrupting his team’s rhythm.
“Their defense was tough,” said Salthun. “I thought we handled their trap pretty well for the most part but they took away a lot of what we wanted to do on offense. They adjusted, we didn’t.
“We didn’t have a bad shooting night. We just didn’t get our looks early and adjust to what we were trying to do and it took us out of our offense.”
Despite being out rebounded 39-24, Schafer said he was encouraged by the inside player Jake Bolton, his team’s tallest players at 6-foot-2. Bolton missed the early part of the season recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in football and has just begun to hit his stride in recent weeks, said Schafer.
“He really went strong to the boards and helped us there,” said Schafer. “The rest of the team didn’t rebound as well but he did his job.”
Bolton finished with 13 points and eight rebounds on the night. Luke Schafer led the Wolverines with 16 points.
Kyle Bangston was the Trojans’ top offensive threat and he didn’t disappoint. The Wolverines had a tough time containing the strong, 6-foot-4 center.
“We didn’t match up with him real well,” said Schafer of Essex’s Bangston, who scored a game-high 24 points. “He’d get the ball and Jake (Bolton) would take a shot at the steal and he (Bangston) would turn around and score. When he got inside, in position he could score when he wanted.”