John Niebrugge’s first game as Altamont’s head coach was certainly one to remember.
Niebrugge’s Indians were all over the floor defensively, forcing the Cumberland Pirates into 25 turnovers en route to a 65-37 victory on Tuesday night at Altamont High School.
The Indians forced 16 first half turnovers, including nine in the first quarter, while building up a sizeable 31-20 halftime lead.
Altamont (1-0) didn’t look back, keeping the defensive pressure up and only allowing 17 second half points to the Pirates.
Junior guard Garrett Ziegler said all the turnovers were a result of Niebrugge’s style of coaching, which he thinks he and his teammates have responded well to.
“Defense is just grit,” he said. “Itís being mentally focused and being in the passing lanes. (Niebrugge) really knows how to coach the defensive side of the ball. That’s something we’ve drastically improved on over the last year.”
Niebrugge said that though his team committed 11 turnovers of its own, he’s happy with the defensive effort his players showed.
“I thought we played really well defensively,” he said. “We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds though, so we found some things to work on.”
He added that he expected some mistakes from his team in its first game of the season.
“I knew it was going to be sloppy,” he said. “I knew there were going to be a lot of fouls and turnovers, but I want them to play fast. That’s going to happen sometimes.”
Offensively, Ziegler led the way for Altamont, scoring 24 points, most of which were on breakaway layups after forcing turnovers.
ìI was struggling shooting, so I was just trying to get into the lane to get layups and easy shots,î Ziegler said. ìMy game is styled around easy points; if I keep getting those, Iíll be fine.î
Niebrugge added that he trusts Ziegler to be a team leader and make good decisions with the ball.
ìThe game is coming slower to him already,î Niebrugge said. ìI give him the ball and let him do what he wants. Iíll hold back the reins a bit sometimes. But, if the game is slowing down already for him, look out.î
Jon Kuhns also had a solid offensive game for the Indians, adding 17 points of his own. Ryan Mayhaus had six points, and Justin McGinnis chipped in five for Altamont.
Trevor Brumleve led the way for the Pirates, scoring 19 points. Colton Ingram and Houston Napier each added seven points for Cumberland.
Niebrugge said heís happy his team was able to pick up a win in his coaching debut, but added that there are some things the Indians will need to shore up to ensure continuing success.
ìWeíve got to learn to rebound a little bit better,î he said. ìWeíve got to learn how to ply defense with our feet a little bit more, too. We gamble a little bit too much sometimes, but itíll all come together.î
Altamont will get a chance to pick up another win on Friday night, when the Indians will take on Brownstown at home.
Cumberland 12 8 10 7 37
Altamont 22 9 14 20 65
Altamont: Ziegler 24 pts., Kuhns 17, Mayhaus 6, McGinnis 5, Borders 3, Jackman 3, Seidel 2, Jahraus 2, Goeckner, J. 2, Hill 1
Cumberland: Brumleve, T. 19 pts., Napier 7, Ingram 7, Brumleve, C. 3, Butler 1