CENTERBURG — The East Knox boys basketball team put a wrench into the top of the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference standings with a 48-39 win Friday night at Centerburg.
Centerburg, which owns a pair of wins over Northmor, is now tied with the Golden Knights at the top of the standings. Both teams have two losses in league play.
How did the Bulldogs pull it off?
“I thought our defense was great and it was led by Gage (Steinmetz),” EK coach Ryan Powell said. “Gage has been a great leader for us and he’s an ultimate team player. He does everything that we need.”
The Bulldogs held the Trojans to just two free throws for 13 minutes and seven seconds in the second and third quarters.
EK gave no quarter in the paint and Centerburg took none. The Trojans scored just four two-point field goals in the game.
Carter Jones bookended both ends of the long drought with a pair of 3-pointers. He buried one with 4 seconds left in the first quarter to stake Centerburg to a 12-8 lead.
He added a deep 3 off the wing with 2:56 left in the third quarter to pull the Trojans within 30-17.
“I thought we took some uncharacteristic, quick shots that we normally (don’t) take,” Centerburg coach Sky Brusco said. “I just felt like we couldn’t get the ball inside or forgot to do that for some reason. That was a big factor in the game — for sure.”
Meanwhile, Weston Melick had the hot hand on the EK offensive end. He knocked down three from deep to help the Bulldogs (10-6, 6-4) build its 16-point advantage.
Then, he buried a back-breaker on the possession after Jones’ shot had finally ended the Trojan drought.
“My guys were moving the ball, driving and kicking out,” Melick said. “Our offense is designed so that when you kick it out — it’s going to be open. My teammates did a great job of getting me good shots. It’s pretty easy to make shots when your teammates are working that hard.”
Steinmetz was charged with the task of guarding Jones for much of the game.
“Even though Carter had 14 points — he had to work really hard for all 14 of those,” Powell said.
Steinmetz wasn’t so willing to take much credit. But nine of the came from behind the arc and three more came at the foul line. Jones also had four rebounds for the Trojans (13-4, 9-2).
“He shot the ball great and drove in hard,” Steinmetz said. “We were just trying to make sure we held them to one shot … that was our main goal.”
Shane Knepp provided a spark for the Bulldogs as well with 10 points and four assists.
Chase Reynolds had eight rebounds, Nathan Whitney had four assists and Steinmetz added three rebounds and a pair of assists for EK.
Mick Mead highlighted Centerburg’s comeback effort in the fourth quarter with eight points on the strength of two 3-pointers. He had a team-best 17 points, six steals and two assists.
Isaiah Reynolds had four rebounds, four steals and a pair of assists to back the Trojans’ effort.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” Brusco said. “We thought we were ready to go tonight – we had a good week of practice. We were a game up in the league and we’re disappointed that we let that getaway.”
EK has a chance to give the Trojans sole possession of first place. The Bulldogs travel to Northmor tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Centerburg is off until Tuesday night when it visits league-foe Highland, which is also scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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