BY MIKE RILEY
NEW WASHINGTON —
Two teams starting this yet young season met in the Jim Matthews Gymnasium on Saturday with Silver Creek — although not totally dominating by any means — built an early double-digit lead and, for most of the night, kept it there in a 65-49 win over New Washington.
For the Dragons, it was their first win after five straight losses following their season opening victory against Henryville. Meanwhile, New Washington had posted a 3-2 record — encouraging for the Mustangs following a one win season in 2011-12.
“We played hard when we wanted to tonight to get that cushion — and then we let go when we got that cushion,” Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman said.
“We only had two guys tonight that didn’t do that,” Hoffman added. “That was Lucas Barnett and Zach Davidson. Coming off the game we had last night [against Jeffersonville] and that level of competition, those guys were focused tonight when they needed to be.”
Silver Creek had one of its best shooting nights of the season as they hit 23-of-45 for 51 percent, something that Hoffman has been waiting for all season.
“Coming into the year, I thought that we’d be a good shooting team,” he said. “But we’re shooting 37 percent from the floor and 52 percent from the free throw line. Sooner or later, I figured that it would even itself out.”
Silver Creek led only 7-5 before a 13-2 run gave them a 20-7 advantage early in the second quarter. Behind 10 second quarter points from Ian Hughes, the Mustangs pulled as close as six before trailing 31-20 at the half.
New Washington got no closer than nine in the second half.
Davidson led the Dragons with 17 points. Gabe Bauer added 15 points, while Barnett and Brooks Howell each finished with 10 points.
New Washington didn’t shoot the ball poorly (18-of-37) and won the boards 26-23, but the Mustangs were pressured into 21 turnovers, compared to just 13 for the Dragons.
“Their pressure got to us tonight, but overall I don’t consider this a step back,” New Washington coach Jonathan May said. “In the second quarter we were rushed. We just have to find a way. We know what needs to be done and how to do it. It’s confidence. We’ll learn from this and get better. The kids take this to heart and we’ll fix it.”
Wesley Napier led the Mustangs with 13 points. Hughes finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Coming up next for both teams will be tournament action. Silver Creek will square off against Clarksville Dec. 28 in the opening round of its holiday tournament, while New Washington will take on host Union County in the Union County Holiday Tournament on Dec. 27.
“We all know what happened the last time we played Clarksville,” Hoffman said of a 77-47 home loss on Nov. 30. “All we could hope for was a rematch and we’ve got it.”
“Right now, I’m not familiar with any of those teams,” May said of the Union County field. “But we’ve got two weeks to look at film and get back to the basics and learn some things that have slipped away.”