Western Boone Jr-Sr High School

Stars pull away from Sparkplugs with big second half

By Jeremy Dexter | Jan. 22, 2023 5:08 PM

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DOVER - More times than not, the Western Boone boys basketball team has been in games in the second half, but haven't been able to close the deal with wins. On Saturday, they took a good step toward changing that. After leading by three at the half, Western Boone out-scored visiting Speedway 34-14 in the second half to win 55-32. "We a ton of good looks, and we just didn't finish well in the first half," Western Boone head coach Dustin Oakley said. "We just turned it on in the second half. Are we going to finish a game? That's been a question I have been getting a lot around here the last couple of weeks. We just played smart, fundamental basketball, especially defensively, the last 16 minutes." Western Boone controlled the game throughout the first half, just couldn't get going enough offensively to build a big lead. After trailing 6-2, WeBo closed the first quarter on a 9-0 to lead 11-6 despite shooting 4 of 15 from the field. They seemed poised to grab control in the second quarter, leading by eight on three separate occasions, but Speedway hung around to get within 21-18 at the half. "We didn't shoot well, we missed some lay-ups and were 0-of-5 from 3, but the bright spot was held them to 18," Oakley said. "We have been going more zone since Christmas break and I felt like we could get up and pressure them a little bit. I felt like we created some havoc and turned it on in the second half." The Stars came out on fire in the second half. Levi LaGrange started the half off with a 3, and the Stars made three of their first four shots to go up 29-18. Speedway got as close as three at 33-27, but Western Boone went on an 18-3 run spanning the end of the third and most of the fourth quarter. "We told our guys to keep attacking," Oakley said. "We got some good steals and everybody finished at the basket. Benny (Kaden Bennington) played great and Levi had a good stretch before he got banged up. We got them in some foul trouble because we were the more aggressive team." The Stars also did a good job on the glass. Western Boone out-rebounded the Sparkplugs 30-24, including 11 offensive rebounds. Josiah Smith grabbed 10 rebounds (five offensive). "We did a good job rebounding," Oakley said. "Defensively, we contested a lot of shots and then cleaned up the glass. Then offensively, we aren't the best shooting team, so we have to crash the boards. It's really clicking with Josiah Smith. He's played like a dog the last three games and is playing his best basketball. He looks really good and looks strong and confident. It's been awesome to see that the last couple of nights." Bennington led the Stars with 18, with LaGrange scoring 10. Marcus Stepp and Luke Barta had eight. Western Boone is now 3-11 and host North Montgomery on Friday. Saturday's game was the first of four in a row at home. "We want to protect our home court," Oakley said. "We are playing some teams that are comparable to us, and we have to find a way to finish and win. If we can win four of five, we can find a way to win more than last year. It's part of our schedule that we need to figure it out and continue what we are doing." The JV Stars defeated the Sparkplugs of Speedway in OT 54-51. The Stars trailed by 6 pts with 55 seconds and managed to send the game to overtime and coming away with the win. Scoring for the Stars was Tristyn Faulk 17, Bryce Kopriva 15, Marcus Fortner 7, Eli Mitchell 6, Gavin Hawkins 3, Drew Gott 2, and Jackson Grimes 2. Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems. On Friday night the Stars travelled to Danville and came away 0-2 on the evening. The JV Stars fell to Danville 53-41. Leading the way for the Stars was Luke Adkins 13, Bryce Kopriva 10, Tristyn Faulk 8, Drew Gott 7, and Eli Mitchell 3. The Varsity Stars fell by a final score of 69-53. The Stars dug a big hole trailing 28-6 after 1 quarter but played fairly even the rest of the way. Scoring for the Stars was Marcus Fortner 8, Kaden Bennington 8, Josiah Smith 8, Luke Barta 5, Marcus Stepp 4, Levi LaGrange 4, Jaxson Gott 4, and Blake Miller 2.

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