HOWARD — The East Knox Bulldogs boys basketball team put on a commanding defensive effort Wednesday, limiting the visiting Northridge Vikings to 12 points in the first half and cruising up the 39-25 home win.
“Our kids are just buying in to what we’re teaching them in practice,” East Knox coach Ryan Powell said. “They’re working on the drills and carrying it over into the game. We are just playing really hard.”
Both teams got out on equal footing. East Knox sophomore Weston Melick poured in five points in the first frame to give the Bulldogs a slight edge after eight minutes, 10-9. Up by one, the defensive clamps kicked in for the home team, limiting the Vikings to only three points in the second.
“Coach said that defense leads to good offense,” Melick said. “We just tried to keep our ball pressure up, get rebounds and push it.”
Those defensive efforts panned out on the opposite end of the floor for East Knox. Anthony Gilmore knocked down a pair of buckets in the second. Melick was fouled outside the arc on a shot with 1.2 seconds left in the stanza and he hit two of the ensuing freebies to put the Bulldogs ahead 21-12 at the break.
“Coach’s plays put me in the right position, teammates passed me the ball and it went from there,” Melick said. “When you’re in good positions, good things happen.”
The third quarter was the best offensive output for the Bulldogs, churning out 12 points, with Melick notching another four and Nathan Whitney chipping in three. Three different Vikings scored in the third and Northridge recorded seven points in the third, but still found itself behind 33-19. East Knox missed four free throws in the fourth, including three on the front half of a one-and-one, but the Bulldogs did enough to stave off any comeback attempts, matching Northridge’s six points in the fourth.
Melick notched a double-double on the night, recording 16 points and 10 rebounds, which he paired with two steals.
“We know Melick is going to be our leader. He’s just got a quick release and a great shot. He’s pretty much got a green light,” Powell said. “When your leading scorer is also your leading rebounder and he is a sophomore, that is something to be pleased about.”
Whitney was next with eight points, two boards and two steals. Gilmore chipped in six points and four rebounds, while Braydon Burkhart filled his stat line with five boards and a point. Shane Knepp nailed a 3-pointer and finished with three boards and a steal. Cody Cockrell, with four rebounds and two steals, Chase Reynolds and Kalvin Gallwitz combined for the remaining five points.
Zion Carpenter paced Northridge in points, with six, and boards, with nine. Jackson Wilson finished the night with five points and five rebounds. Carter Comisford and Jackson Knerr each recorded four points and combined for six boards and five steals. Sam Tucker and Trevor Kitchen kicked in the additional six points, with both knocking down a shot from deep.
The Bulldogs are out to a hot start with a 2-0 record. They kick off Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference action Friday in a home game against Mount Gilead, with JV tipping off at 6 p.m.
“We are getting the results we want,” Powell said. “We are very happy to be 2-0, but we have our first conference game against Mount Gilead, who beat us pretty good both times last year. We’re looking forward to Friday and hopefully playing a little better this time.”