Brock Netter, Staff Writer
KINNIKINNICK — Cam Evans didn’t shy away from admitting what Zane Trace didn’t do well Friday night.
The Pioneers’ senior guard, who led the team in scoring, pointed out that he and his teammates weren’t as sharp as they usually like to be in a 70-51 season-opening win over Amanda-Clearcreek.
“The big thing was rebounding on the defensive end and trying to push the ball down to our side and getting shots up,” Evans said. “We had a hard time getting shots up today. [Amanda] got a lot of offensive rebounds and second chance points. That, in general, kind of hurt us. They did a pretty good job making shots difficult.”
Having said that, it wasn’t all bad things for the Pioneers (1-0).
For starters, Evans was his usual self in the scoring column, totaling a game-high 23 points. He drove to the bucket well, finished when he had the chance to do so and hit his free throws down the stretch.
Meanwhile, Nick Nesser returned from injury and silenced any doubts of that ailment still affecting him. Nesser finished with 15 points while knocking down mid-range jump shots and getting putbacks to fall in the paint.
“It’s huge for us to have [Nesser] back on the court,” Evans said. “I’m sure it’s a huge confidence boost to him as well. He deserves it. He’s worked harder than anybody at getting back to playing.”
The Aces (1-0) kept the score close for most of the first half. After entering the second quarter down 19-11, Amanda outscored Zane Trace by a 17-13 margin in the second, cutting the Pioneers’ lead to 32-28 at halftime.
But in the third, Zane Trace started to pull away while seizing a 51-41 edge heading into the final eight minutes. Amanda managed to cut the lead down to 54-49, forcing a Pioneer timeout. But the Pioneers got back to basics and kept feeding Evans, who kept putting the ball in the bucket.
“We decided to turn the pressure up a little bit [after halftime],” Evans said. “We got some easy steals, got some easy lay-ups and that was the main thing. We definitely need to improve on chemistry and just playing with each other. That was our first game [in a long time] playing together.”
After Evans’ 23 points and Nesser’s 15, ZT’s Colby Swain added 11 of his own, nine of which came via the 3-point arc. Bryce Johnson also helped out, finishing with eight points.
The Pioneers will be back in action Thursday evening, traveling to Logan Elm in a non-conference bout.
Amanda: 11-17-13-10 — 51
Zane Trace: 19-13-19-19 — 70
Amanda: 20 FG, 5-10 FT, 6 3pt. (Bolin 2, Miller 2). Scoring: Miller 16, Madison 13, Bolin 13, Breckley 4, Stevens 3, Carroll 2.
Zane Trace: 24 FG, 15-19 FT, 7 3pt. (Swain 3). Scoring: Evans 23, Nesser 15, Swain 11, B. Johnson 8, L. Johnson 5, Robinson 4, Nichols 2, Davidson 2.