MAIDEN — The Maiden boys basketball team treated Tuesday night's season opener like a sprint instead of the first few strides in a season-long marathon. The Blue Devils raced out of the blocks and dominated their visitors from Bandys 81-34.
“Obviously, (it’s) always good to start the season out 1-0,” said Maiden coach Justin Brittain. “We played hard, that’s the bottom line. We executed some stuff and put practice into play.”
The Trojans (0-1, 0-1 South Fork 2A Conference) actually scored first on a jumper at the elbow by Joseph Cockman and led 6-2 moments later. But after that it was all Maiden as the Blue Devils went on a 20-2 run to end the first quarter.
Five Maiden (1-0, 1-0) players cracked the scoring column in the first quarter, one in which the Blue Devils simply seemed bigger, stronger, faster and more experienced than their opposition.
“I just didn’t have them prepared to play tonight, that always comes back on me,” said Bandys coach Rob Bliss. “The kids were giving good effort. We’ll get back in tomorrow (Wednesday) and try to fix a few things, and try to be better when we play Newton.”
Maiden continued to push the action at both ends of the floor in the second quarter. Mason Lowman and Iziah Morgan both canned a pair of 3-pointers in the stanza that saw the Blue Devils’ lead balloon from 14 points to 25 by halftime.
The third quarter was the most dominant of the night for Maiden as the Blue Devils had six players score in a 28-8 blitz over eight minutes. Chris Culliver — a sophomore who spent his first year at Bandys — drove through traffic the entire period like a demolition derby driver, while Lowman, Ben Gibbs and Jayden Roseman combined to hit from behind the arc four times in the quarter.
“Defensively, we gave up a little bit of penetration at times which led to some kick-out threes,” Bliss said. “We really didn’t close out as well as we probably should. All that’s on me. I didn’t do the job I needed to do. We just need to get back in there and do the work.”
But as impressive as the Blue Devils were at the offensive end, it was at the defensive end where they were perhaps the most dominant. Only in the second quarter when the Trojans scored 11 points did the visitors hit double figures in a period.
Bandys only went to the line seven times the entire night and didn’t make a free throw until Eric Habschied converted two of three to open the final stanza.
“I think we’ve got to be a team that feeds off of energy,” Brittain said about the offense benefiting from the defensive effort. “Our kids play really hard when we’re doing that and we can mix it up in full court. I think that’s our thing.”
The only area in which Maiden was not in midseason form in the opener was at the foul line, where the Blue Devils made 8 of 21 shots.
“That’s something we’ve got to work on,” said Brittain.
Ten Blue Devils broke into the scoring column, eight in the first half. Lowman finished with four triples and a team-high 19 points, Culliver had 14 and Roseman made it into double figures with 12.
“That is a big thing for us,” Brittain said about his team’s depth and sharing of the basketball. “We don’t drop off when they (bench) go into games. They know that they’ve got to keep energy on the bench so they can be ready when they go in there.”
Bandys will host Newton-Conover tonight, while Maiden will travel to West Lincoln on Friday.
Bandys: 08 11 08 07 — 34
Maiden: 22 22 28 09 — 81
Bandys — Dylan Thompson 10, Eric Habschied 6, Ashton Reynolds 6, Bobby DelGuercio 3, Cade Spencer 3, Joseph Cockman 2, Keelan Henrickson 2, Drew Reed 2.
Maiden — Mason Lowman 19, Chris Culliver 14, Jayden Roseman 12, Iziah Morgan 9, Dru McClough 7, Jalen Robinson 6, Ben Gibbs 5, Brennan James 5, Micah Haynes 2, Ethan Rhodes 2.