Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — After back-to-back losses to begin the new year, Adena seems to have figured something out.
The Warriors have now won three straight games, each going away, by an average of 28 points.
Friday’s win was a 54-29 decision over Southeastern in Scioto Valley Conference action, a contest where they led just 23-16 at halftime. But in the second half, something clicked as Adena (9-5, 6-2 SVC) outscored the Panthers by a 31-13 margin.
Warriors coach Kyle Bradley is hoping that second half trend reciprocates Adena’s schedule as well.
“It’s just trying to learn how to play with one another and moving the basketball. We didn’t move the ball well early [in the season] and we weren’t very ball strong,” Bradley said. “But when we move the ball well, the best player on the team is the open player. I also think defense is starting to fuel our offense a little bit. You’re not a very good team if offense is fueling your defense because it’s not guaranteed every night.”
Defense was the focal point of Friday’s win.
Adena swarmed around the basketball, caused 18 turnovers and held the Panthers (3-11, 2-6 SVC) to just a 34.2 shooting percentage.
“They kind of tried to slow the game down and they threw a lot of different defenses at us,” Bradley said. “I thought we handled that pretty well on the offensive end. On the defensive end, they were trying to run some clock and get a good look. You just have to have some patience and trust what you’re doing. They want you to work for three minutes and then find an open guy because you got impatient.”
Southeastern scored first, using Derek Wheeler’s 3 with 6:40 left in the first quarter to take an early lead. But when Dillon McDonald dialed long distance at the 4:13 mark, he gave the Warriors a 7-5 lead and one they’d never relinquish.
McDonald scored again with 3:08 left to make it 10-5 before Jacob Shipley hit a 3 early in the second quarter to make it 17-11. Logan Bennett and Nate Throckmorton followed with back-to-back buckets, stretching the lead to 10 at 21-11.
The Panthers went on a 5-0 run to cut the lead to five but Bennett answered just before halftime, giving the Warriors a 23-16 lead at the break.
In the second half, McDonald scored to push the lead to double digits at 29-18 before Cade McKee nailed a 3 at the 4:50 mark, pushing the advantage to 32-18. By the end of the third quarter, Adena had a 41-23 lead and shifted into cruise control the rest of the way.
“I see it as sending a message to other teams and other people who are watching us,” Bennett said of the win. “We can obviously play better than we have. It’s just trusting your teammates. Guys are going to be all over me but I know I can trust Preston [Sykes], Cade, Jarrett [Garrison] or whoever to go out and get it done.”
Bennett led all scorers with 14 points and seven rebounds while McKee added 13 points. McDonald finished with 10 points and three steals, and Throckmorton had six points, five rebounds and a pair of steals.
For Southeastern, Aiden Estep led the way with eight points and five rebounds while Derek Wheeler finished with seven points. Aaron Evans also helped out with six points.
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday as the Warriors welcome Piketon to Frankfort in a game where they have a chance to put an exclamation point on the statement they’re trying to make. Meanwhile, Southeastern will attempt to bounce back against Westfall.
“We wanted to step out and challenge ourselves early on in our schedule. We did that and I didn’t think we handled the adversity very well. It’s kind of learning and figuring that out,” Bradley said. “What makes Piketon dangerous is that they’ve got different guys who can score it. You have to play rock-solid defense. They move the ball really well and they’re unselfish. That makes a team hard to guard. You have to be focused, you have to show up, and you have to follow the scouting report.”
Adena: 12-11-18-13 — 54
Southeastern: 7-9-7-6 — 29
Adena: 23-49 FG, 1-5 FT, 7-21 3 pt., 27 rebounds (Bennett 7), 11 turnovers, 14 assists (Sykes 3, Throckmorton 3, Garrison 3). Scoring: Bennett 14, McKee 13, McDonald 10, Throckmorton 6, Sykes 5, Cheesebrew 3, Shipley 3.
Southeastern: 12-35 FG, 3-4 FT, 2-10 3 pt., 19 rebounds (Estep 5), 18 turnovers, 6 assists (Gillum 3). Scoring: Estep 8, Wheeler 7, Evans 6, George 4, Lenox 2, Gillum 2.