Boys basketball: Merrillville’s speed too much for Chesterton
By Dave Melton Post-Tribune correspondent February 7, 2013 9:56PM
Updated: March 10, 2013 6:40AM
CHESTERTON — It didn’t take too long for visiting Merrillville to hop right into the driver seat of Thursday night’s DAC matchup with Chesterton, which ended in a 64-56 Pirates victory.
Merrillville (14-2, 12-0 DAC) started pushing down on the accelerator in the first quarter, jumping out to a 17-10 lead by the period’s end, led by six points from Darion Williams.
In the second quarter, Merrillville ramped the speed up to a level that Chesterton (9-8, 6-6 DAC) just couldn’t match. The Pirates outscored the Trojans 19-8 in the quarter, forcing the Trojans into nine turnovers. Thanks to a persistent Merrillville defense, Chesterton had a higher number of turnovers than shots attempts (seven) in the period.
“I think they were still a little frustrated with how we finished the game on Saturday,” Merrillville head coach TJ Lux said, referring to the Pirates’ loss to Munster. “They were relentless. We got back to some of the basics of what our identity is and did that for the first 20 minutes of the game.”
That frantic pace knocked Chesterton out of its gameplan.
“Their quickness took us out of what we wanted to do,” said Chesterton head coach Tom Peller. “We were a bit wide-eyed. I thought we played a lot better basketball from the third quarter on. We got our composure back and we played some good basketball towards the end that year.”
Multiple times in the first half, Lux subbed a full new lineup into the game in order to keep up the defensive intensity.
“We had to have our guys fresh,” said Lux. “That was one thing that hurt us a little bit last weekend; that fatigue. We need to make sure that our whole bench stays ready to play.”
The Trojans did mount a comeback in the second half. They trailed by as many as 23 points in the third quarter before a 23-8 run had Chesterton within eight points by the 3:39 mark of the fourth quarter. Jacob Andert hit a trio of 3-pointers to help keep Chesterton within striking distance.
But a perfect 9-of-9 performance from the free throw line by Merrillville in the fourth quarter kept the Trojans firmly in the rearview mirror.
“We did come back; it was a lot better in the second half,” said Peller. “But we just can’t start like that. It’s disappointing the way we came out. This was a big game.”
Williams and Jelani Pruitt each finished with a game-high 14 points for Merrillville. Matt Holba led the Trojans with 13 points.