Boys basketball: Pirates pack on pressure in rout of Wolves
By Mike Hutton firstname.lastname@example.org or 648-3139 December 11, 2012 11:20PM
Updated: January 13, 2013 11:15AM
MICHIGAN CITY — There was a moment, with just under three minutes left, when John Boyd looked at no one in particular on his bench and said, “There is nothing I can do.”
Then he called a timeout and brought in five new players.
The white flag had officially been raised. It had unofficially been thrown down long before that.
Merrillville’s 71-45 victory over Michigan City on Tuesday was text book example of what happens when a team is not ready to deal with the long arms and the quick hands of the Pirates’ trapping, pressing (sometimes) defense.
The Wolves got caught alright and it wasn’t pretty. They turned the ball over 28 times and never trailed by less than double digits for more than two quarters.
Boyd took the fall for the loss.
“What you saw out there is my responsibility,” he said. “Merrillville has one of the better teams in the area. That is what happens when you are not prepared for their pressure.”
The Pirates, in pressure mode all night, brought players off the bench at will. Sometimes they appeared to play a version of a 1-3-1 trapping zone defense. Sometimes they trapped full court and sometimes they just extended their defense out to half court. Whatever they did, it worked.
The victory was a perfect antidote after they lost in overtime to Andrean at home on Saturday.
Merrillville coach TJ Lux said he was happy with the sweat-free victory.
“You never know how you’re guys are going to respond,” he said.
BJ Jenkins was clutch for Merrillville, finishing with 18 points (4-of-7 from 3-point range). Jelani Pruitt pitched in with 15 and Darion Williams finished with 14.
It took Michigan City more than two minutes to score, getting a bucket inside from Corey Workman with 5:26 left. Merrillville’s pressure got to Michigan City at the end of the first quarter when the Pirates went on a 6-0 run that ended with a slicing layup by Darion Williams that he converted into a three-point play after he was fouled. The Pirates finished the quarter ahead 16-8.
The Wolves cut the lead to 16-12 on a bucket by Lacy Johnson and a pair of free throws by Ryan Taylor.
Merrillville turned up the heat after the mini-run, taking a 22-13 lead on a three-point play by Pruitt the old-fashioned way. It would continue to get worse for the Wolves, who couldn’t handle the pressure.
The Pirates ended the quarter with a 17-7 run, taking a 33-20 lead.