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Chiefland boys got off to a great start last Monday with a 61-48 win over Trenton, but slipped a bit the next night, losing to Interlachen 68-64 in overtime.
The Indians had a great preseason showing, winning both of their games in Williston's Tip-Off Tournament. The away game at Trenton was the first of the regular season, and the Indians played crisply and won easily.
“We did a much better job on the boards tonight,” said Indians' head coach Mark Lundy, comparing Chiefland's performance on the night to that in the preseason tournament, in which they overwhelmed their opponents from the field, but left a lot of second chances on the glass, both ways.
“I'm very pleased with our defense, also.”
There was plenty to be pleased about. Cantrell Richardson started the Indians off with a quick bucket, the first in a 17-5 quarter for Chiefland. Eugene Carter lit up the basket with four field goals, including a three, but many of the Indians points came in transition, off steals. As noted, Chiefland did do better on the glass, and Richardson had a nice putback which he took straight up.
Trenton got active in the second quarter, as game-high scorer Trevor Pelphrey and C.J. Bowers heated up for six points apiece. The Tigers tightened up their defense and hit the boards to take away Chiefland second chances. Trenton outscored the Indians 13-11 in the second, but their early deficit was too much to overcome. The Indians went to the break with a powerful 28-18 lead.
The Indians moved the ball well in the second half, getting a much more balanced performance on the floor. Sheffield led the second half scoring, but almost every player got a touch and a bucket, so well did Chiefland pass the rock.
Defensively, they kept the Tigers off balance, forcing them to go inside against heavy coverage or else settle for the perimeter. Pelphrey stayed inside and got his, scoring 16 of his 22 in the second half. Austin Rhodes also pursued the paint and got two trips to the line, along with a field goal.
The Indians continued to pickpocket Trenton ballhandlers, as Jamantye Thompson and Carter fed the Chiefland fast break with steals. Thompson had four steals on the night, and three assists to go with his nine points; Carter had six steals and Reggie McClendon had three. The offense clicked, as Sheffield scored off one inbounds play and Thompson sank a three-ball on another.
Chiefland owned the scoreboard against Trenton, but the Tigers owned the free throw category, as the Indians definitely out-fouled them. Trenton shot 24 free throws to Chiefland's 16, a disparity Lundy described as “our feet not moving enough on defense and our hands moving too much.”
“We've still got a few inconsistencies to iron out,” he said. “The guys are trying so hard, sometimes they try too hard.”
Those inconsistencies were on display the following night when Chiefland fell in overtime to Interlachen.
“We were one-for-18 from three-point territory,” Lundy said.
The Indians' poor outside shooting allowed the Rams' defense to sag into the paint, severely limiting Chiefland's shot selection.
“We ended up shooting about 33 percent,” Lundy said.
Turnovers were also a problem against Interlachen, as the Indians struggled with unforced errors. Chiefland also battled foul trouble, sending the Rams to the line 30 times.
“We were out of sync,” Lundy said.
“It wasn't from the pressure – it was just a lack of focus.”
The game against Interlachen was only the second of the regular season, and the Indians have only had two full weeks together since football ended.
“This was our first true test of the season,” Lundy said.
He's nevertheless confident that this group will pull together to help each other get their rhythm and play good basketball.
“As a coach, I appreciate the way this group works,” he said.
“If they do something incorrect, they acknowledge what they did and work to correct it. They communicate well on the floor and try to help each other out.”
Cantrell Richardson, 12 points, 7 rebounds
Eugene Carter, 14 points, 6 steals
Tommy Sheffield, 20 points, 5 rebounds
Jamantye Thompson, 9 points, 4 steals
Trevor Pelphrey, 22 points
C.J. Bowers, 11 points