By Brad Morris
Circleville displayed both its youth and promise during the second half on Wednesday on its way to a 69-56 non-league win over visiting Athens in the Horizon Holiday Classic.
The Tigers used a 16-0 run in the second quarter to take a 38-28 halftime lead and eventually stretched that advantage to 43-28 early in the second half.
Athens held Circleville to just one field goal, a layup from Briley Cramer, over the last seven minutes of the third quarter to cut deep into its deficit. A layup from Nathan Shadik to open the fourth quarter trimmed the Tigers’ lead down to 45-44.
“Good teams use their defense to lead to offense, getting turnovers to get out in transition or holding teams to tough shots, grabbing the rebound and get moving in transition,” Circleville coach Cody Carpenter said. “When we competed on the defensive end, that led to our two best quarters of offense where we scored 48 points and got a lot of really good looks at the basket.
“I felt like our transition defense was lacking in the last couple of minutes of the second quarter and our half-court defense was not very good, to be honest, in the third quarter.”
Circleville responded to force six turnovers and hold Athens to 5 of 12 (41.7 percent) shooting for the rest of the game, putting together a decisive 17-4 run.
“Our kids are still learning how to play with a lead and how to win games,” Carpenter said. “You don’t like to about give up a big lead like we did in the second half, but it also shows something about our kids handling adversity, getting back to playing good defense and taking control of the game down the stretch with another big run.”
Cramer led the Tigers with seven points during the surge and Slater Search accounted for six points, stretching the CHS lead to 62-48 with 3:20 remaining.
The Tigers shot a crisp 30 of 48 (62.5 percent) from the field, paced by Cramer leading all scorers with 29 points on 12 of 18 (66.7 percent) shooting. He also added five rebounds and three steals.
“Briley has developed a mid-range game that is very hard to defend with his 6-foot-3 height and length,” Carpenter said. “He’s developed into a three-level scorer, being able to drive and finish around the basket, hitting the elbow and also knocking down the three.
“Briley has been our leading player so far this season, but the scary thing is I believe there is another level he can still get to as a player if he continues to work at it.”
Preston Hulse followed with 12 points, Search contributed 10 points, seven rebounds and blocked four shots, and Joe Wray dished out 14 assists.
“Preston came out and knocked down a couple of nice threes to get us going and then I felt like Joe Wray had a nice floor game and did a great job of distributing the basketball,” Carpenter said. “He’s still making some freshman mistakes out there, but the key is to continue and learn from those and get better. We want Joe to be playing like a sophomore at the end of the season.”
Shadik scored 28 points and Landon Wheatley chipped in 10 to lead the Bulldogs.
Both teams return to the Horizon Gymnasium for the final day of the Classic on Friday. The Bulldogs (2-5) take on New Hope (5-2) at 5:30 p.m., followed by the host Tigers (5-4) tangling with Pickaway County rival Westfall (6-3).
ATHENS — Sam Trainer 1-1-4, Nathan Shadik 12-2-28, Kieran Murphy 1-0-2, Levi Neal 3-0-7, Easton Nuzum 1-0-2, Landon Wheatley 3-2-10, Luke Mullins 1-0-3. Three-point goals — Shadik (2), Wheatley (2), Trainer, Neal, Mullins. Total — 22-47 5-8 56.
CIRCLEVILLE — Preston Hulse 4-1-12, Briley Cramer 12-5-29, Joe Wray 1-0-2, Drew Thornsley 1-0-2, Ian Warden 4-0-8, Slater Search 5-0-10, Ed Kirk 3-0-6. Three-point goals — Hulse (3). Total — 30-48 6-10 69.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Athens 15 13 14 14 56
Circleville 14 24 7 24 69