Dover — The Western Boone boys basketball team is picking up steam as the regular season comes to a close.
The Stars won their third-straight game to close the regular season Friday, topping Clinton Prairie 50-36.
“We have guys that work hard for each other, and we are working hard every day to get better,” Western Boone head coach Bronson Lickliter said. “I think that is what we are seeing on the floor right now. Whether it is a grind-it-out victory or an opportunity to put a team away in the fourth, we have seen both in the last few weeks.”
The Gophers’ Gran McGraw hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 34.
But Western Boone went on a 15-0 run over a 3:20 stretch, going up 49-34 and putting the game away.
“Our defense really stepped up in that stretch and we were able to get some stops,” Lickliter said. “We were able to work it around and attack the basket a little more in that stretch against their 2-3 zone. When gaps opened up, we were able to deliver a pass into the post and get some easy baskets.”
Senior Andrew McAtee was key during the stretch for the Stars.
He scored the first five points of the run, and added another 3-pointer during the stretch.
He scored a season-best 16 points, just the third time this year he has been in double figures.
“He did a really nice job of getting in good spots,” Lickliter said. “We know what we are going to get from him usually, which is good rebounding and good defense, and tonight he did all of that and then some. He is a good passer, and he can step out and shoot a little bit, and tonight he knocked some down. He does a great job for us.”
Lickliter said during a stretch like that, where the Stars drew a charge and grabbed four defensive rebounds (out of four missed shots), the energy picks up all throughout the team.
Spencer Wright added four of his 15 points during the stretch, and Cortez Stoudemire had a big three-point play that was the dagger.
“It’s one of those things, that (McAtee) brings some energy off the bench, just like Connor Hole does and guys feed off of that,” Lickliter said. “We made a couple plays on defense, guys fed off that and McAtee is that type of player. When they missed, with Andrew and Pat (Shallenberger) in there, we have a great chance to block out and get the rebound.”
Before the game, the Stars honored their six seniors — McAtee, Shallenberger, Lucas Morton, Adam Pratt, Kruze Washington and Peyton Young.
Lickliter said they have been a good group of seniors.
“These guys have been great,” Lickliter said. “They have bought in, especially having had multiple coaches in the last few years. I have been very fortunate to have the kind of kids that we have, that work hard and do what we ask of them.”
Western Boone opens up sectional play Wednesday night at 6 p.m. against Southmont at Crawfordsville.
The Stars and Mounties have met twice this season already, with Western Boone winning 48-44 in the regular-season meeting and 59-40 at the Sugar Creek Classic.
“We have to continue to do what we do — guard well and execute offensively,” Lickliter said. “We have done that the first two times we played. We guarded them well and as long as we can continue to play the style of defense that we have been playing and then run our stuff offensively, we should find some success. But that is why you play the games, we will see on Wednesday night.”