DANVILLE — Gage Steinmetz is pretty easy to point out on the basketball floor. He’s the one battling for rebounds, diving for loose balls and finding the open teammate. Oh, and he also has a pretty distinct mullet.
Complete with a fine quaff, Steinmetz scored 11 points, dished out six assists, pulled down five rebounds and had four steals to lead the East Knox boys basketball team to a 64-30 at Danville in KMAC play Friday night.
“I’ve just been growing it out for a couple of years,” Steinmetz said. “One of my favorite country singers is Morgan Wallen and I kind of copied off of him a little bit. It brings a little bit extra attention if that’s good or bad.”
“He’s an excellent team player,” East Knox coach Ryan Powell said. “He does whatever we ask him. He’s a very good leader as a senior.”
The Bulldogs (4-4, 2-2) ended a four-game losing streak to rival Danville in a decisive fashion and did all the things that Powell wanted them to do.
“I just thought we played the way we normally play,” he said. “Our defense was very good. We expect to hold teams down and we expect to force turnovers. Our goal this year is to score more points and we’ve been doing that. If our offense can get consistent and match our defense, then we’ll be a pretty good team.”
Weston Melick scored 12 points to lead East Knox, with six of those points coming on a pair of 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to stake the Bulldogs to a 6-2 lead. Steinmetz set up the latter with an offensive board. He found Melick open at the top of the key.
“It was just a good team effort,” Steinmetz said. “We haven’t beaten them in a couple of years. It felt good. We’ve been pretty close the last couple of times and didn’t finish it. So, it was a good team win.”
Wyatt Weckesser tried to single-handily keep the Blue Devils in the game in the early-going. He knocked down a 3-pointer to cut Danville’s deficit to 6-5. He had nine of his 15 points in the first half.
“Wyatt came off the bench tonight and played very well,” Danville coach Matt Moore said. “He was focused and he carried us a little bit in the first half. But in the first half, we just turned the basketball over way too many times and gave up too many offensive rebounds.”
But the Bulldogs closed the half with a 10-2 run, capped by a Nathan Whitney 3-pointer with a couple of seconds left to send East Knox to the locker room with a 27-13 lead. Whitney finished in double figures with 10 points.
The Bulldogs used defense and rebounding in a 12-0 run to bridge the third and fourth quarters and cruised from there.
Shane Knepp and Chase Reynolds scored eight points apiece. Knepp added two assists and a pair of steals, Reynolds had five rebounds and two steals and Kalvin Gallwitz had five rebounds and four steals to go with five points for the Bulldogs.
Darren Mickley had eight points, six rebounds and a couple of assists, Hunter Elliott led with four helpers and Levi Lyons had eight boards to lead the Devils (1-10, 0-7).
“I think East Knox played very, very hard,” Moore said. “They executed very well, so respect to them. I don’t think we played with as much heart and as much pride as I wanted us to. I thought that if we executed well, that it was going to be a close game. We didn’t do a lot of things well tonight.”
Both teams are right back at it today. East Knox returns home to play Fredericktown in league play and Danville welcomes Delaware Christian in non-league action. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
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