Both the Cumberland Pirates and host St. Elmo/Brownstown Eagles both earned wins in the opener of the 60th Annual St. Elmo Holiday Tournament Wednesday.
In the first game, the Pirates used a big second half to defeat the Hatchets of Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg 58-40 after leading 25-24 at the halftime break.
“In the second half we just played hard,” said Cumberland head coach Justin Roedl. “I thought [the Hatchets] were a lot more physical in the first half and we just went through the motions.
“In the second half we took care of the ball better, got better shot opportunities and were able to put together a nice quarter.”
In the first quarter, Jordan Wittenberg scored seven of his 18 points, and scored five more in the second to outscore the Pirates 11-9 in the second.
But down the stretch in the second half, the Pirates played a much more physical style of basketball on both ends.
Brennyn Cutts led the Pirates with 19 points, while Ross Hemmen had 18.
Both Cutts and Hemmen thrived on their abilities to play both inside and out. Hemmen was able to handle the ball up the floor, but also showed the ability to back his man down in the low post. Cutts showed his polished ability to both attack from the perimeter, as well as the ability to shoot from the outside.
“At halftime I told the boys ‘we can get those layups all day, and we did that,” Roedl said. “But I thought what helped take away some of their offense was that we took care of the ball in the second half. Effort and doing the little things is what made the difference.”
Freshman center Jaxon Boldt made his presence felt with his offensive rebounding ability and had a pair of lay-ins on his way to finishing with 10 points.
Wyatt Napier scored nine, while Wyatt Brant scored two.
For the Hatchets, Wittenberg led with 18 points, while Samuel Vonderheide scored eight. Gavan Wernsing scored five.
“I thought we didn’t put up a whole lot of resistance defensively,” said Hatchets head coach Bob Lockart. “They were able to get the ball in the bucket a bit more. They made it an issue to get the ball closer to the rim and use their physicality.
“I wasn’t displeased with our offense. I thought we were able to get shots most of the night. But we need to get tougher to handle the physicality. I thought when we attacked the rim in the second half, we couldn’t handle the bumps or physicality.”
The Pirates advance and will next play Friday at 7:45 p.m against the winner of South Central and Ramsey, while the Hatchets will next take on the loser of South Central and Ramsey at 6:15 p.m. Friday.
In the second game of the night, the host St. Elmo/Brownstown Eagles defeated the Bobcats of Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City 81-60.
The Bobcats were able to cut the halftime deficit to seven twice, but the Eagles were able to capitalize on the turnovers by the Bobcats, as well as being able to pick apart the team’s 2-3 zone.
“In the second half, we were able to cut down on some of the silly errors,” said Eagles head coach Greg Feezel. “That’s what’s hurting our team right now. Things that should be easy, we’re turning the ball over. On varsity teams you can’t do that.
“But we had a group of players that weren’t starters and came in and did exactly what we wanted. The ball movement got the Tish boys a couple of shots, and that helped a lot.”
The ball-handler would bring the ball up the floor and dump it to the player standing at the free throw line. Once the defense collapsed to the middle, the player would kick the ball out for an open 3-pointer.
As a result, the Eagles combined for nine made 3-pointers, with Bryton Pruett, Kaden and Jaxson Tish each hitting two.
Jacob Baron led the Eagles with 15 points, including a pair of big putbacks.
Jace McWhorter scored 11 of his 13 points in the first quarter, while Andy Goldsborough scored 13 as well. Pruett finished with 12, Gavyn Smith nine, Kaden Tish eight, Jaxson Tish six, Caleb Campbell five.
The Bobcats had a promising showing, with the sophomore duo of Jadon Robertson and the 6-foot-4 Daniel Lucas combining for 41. Robertson led all scorers with 21 and Lucas scored 20.
Silas Buzzard scored six, while Dylan Taylor and Seth Doty each scored four. Dakota Gray scored three and Brandon Burrus scored two.
Up next, the Eagles will take on the winner of Mulberry Grove and Patoka at 8:45 p.m. Thursday, while the Bobcats take on the loser of the same matchup at 5:45 p.m. Thursday.