Effingham Daily News
South Central turned the ball over in bunches at all of the worse times against Altamont on Friday, falling to the Indians 70-40 on the road.
The Cougars turned the ball over on each of their first four possessions of the game, once because of a traveling call and three times the Indians stole the ball.
They battled back into the game, after falling behind 8-0, and trailed 24-20 with four minutes to go in the first half. Once again, the Altamont defense wreaked havoc.
The Cougars turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions, down 24-20, and gave up two easy layups. Two more turnovers later, Altamont led 32-20.
Altamont scored 16 of the last 22 points of the second quarter and led 40-26 at halftime.
“I don't think we shot a jump shot in the first quarter,” Altamont head coach John Niebrugge said. “We rely on our defense and have to score off of our defense. That's Altamont basketball.”
Garrett Ziegler, Griffin Jackman and Aaron Goeckner were the primary benefactors and often a part of the defensive effort. Ziegler led the Indians with 19 points. Jackman and Goeckner each added 11.
Goeckner sank a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter that gave Altamont its first 20-plus point lead of the game, 55-34.
The Indians outscored the Cougars 30-14 in the second half. Niebrugge said his team did a good job of making jump shots in the second half to extend the lead.
“I felt like, in the first half, we could've been up more,” Niebrugge said. “We were shooting good shots, in rhythm. The second half came around and we saw the same shots and I told them to keep shooting.”
Jackman got more involved in the second half, especially. He scored six of his 11 points in the final two quarters of the game.
Derek Jahraus and Justin McGinnis each contributed 9 points in the game, as nine players scored at least two points against South Central.
Everything went wrong for South Central after tightening the deficit to four points in the second quarter, head coach Rick Simmons said.
“You get the score down to 24-20, turn it over three consecutive times and give up layups at the other end,” Simmons said. “That's going to be a problem with our team.”
Altamont's defensive pressure was something Simmons' inexperienced team wasn't used to seeing, at least this early in the season.
“They're so aggressive,” Simmons said. “Not that we don't see it — we see it later in the year — but they're not accustomed to that level of it. There is no let up. You can't sit there and think they'll trade somebody off and it'll get easier. It doesn't get easier.”
South Central and Altamont will be back in action on Tuesday, in pool play action of the St. Elmo/Brownstown Holiday Tournament. Altamont will play Cowden-Herrick, while South Central meets Okaw Valley.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Altamont 17 23 15 15 70
South Central 12 14 8 6 40
Altamont: Jackman 11, McGinnis 9, Ziegler 19, Borders 4, A. Goeckner 11, Armstrong 3, Kuhns 2, Jahraus 9, Wolff 2
South Central: Harmeier 12, Ross 8, Riley 6, Langley 5, Powless 5, Wilkins 4