The Vandals pushed the tempo for the entire game against Hillsboro on Tuesday to produce a 21-point victory, the team’s first since Jan. 10.
Vandalia opened the game on an 18-0 run, and held Hillsboro star Matt DeLuka without a field goal and the Hilltoppers without a 3-pointer during a 57-36 win.
“I was very pleased with our effort and the intensity on the defensive end,” said coach Kevin Jackson. “We flat-out played better, and that’s what we needed to get back to after getting beat last Tuesday (by Teutopolis).”
Coming into the game, the primary goal was to neutralize DeLuka, who scored 28 points during a 71-65 Hillsboro win in December.
The Hillsboro senior had a few looks at the basket inside the paint, but as many as three Vandalia defenders swarmed him during the game.
“It had to be (the top priority),” Jackson said. “If you stop him, you stop them. He’s improved a ton and surprised me a little bit the first time around.”
When DeLuka couldn’t get to the basket, he passed the ball outside, but the Hilltoppers had trouble making shots from 3-point range, missing badly on several attempts.
Meanwhile, the Vandals (16-5, 5-2 South Central Conference) got a combined seven 3-pointers from four different players, including its first three field goals of the game.
Senior Dathan Berning, junior Tim Ritchey and senior Bryan Hosick each made a long-range shot in the first 3:13 of the game to put the Vandals ahead, 10-0, with Berning having also made a free throw.
The Vandals would score eight more points – including a second-chance layup by junior Chase Woolsey and three layups set up by precise assists – to go up, 18-0.
Hillsboro would get on the board with 26 seconds left in the first quarter, but because of nine turnovers, the Hilltoppers attempted just 10 field goals.
“We were getting a lot of steals on the back end of the press (defense), which showed that out guys were sprinting back,” Jackson said.
That intensity continued into the second quarter, as the Vandals earned three more steals to give them eight for the half and scored 12 more points to move ahead, 30-12, at halftime.
With 41 seconds left in the second period, DeLuka was working for a shot under the basket but had to pass to a teammate after being triple-teamed.
When the 3-pointer missed, it allowed the Vandals the final possession of the first half, resulting in a 3-pointer from Hosick, with three seconds left.
Not that Vandalia needed any extra momentum, but that likely helped the intensity level continue to increase into the third period, especially on offense.
The Vandals missed several open layups in the first half, but as a team, shot 50 percent from the field and made 5-of-6 free throws in the third quarter. Included were 3-pointers from junior Leyton Godoyo and Berning.
Vandalia’s lead would grow to 30 in the fourth period, after Berning made two layups in the span of 12 seconds, and the reserves played most of the minutes after that.
Junior Michael Wells did well, earning five rebounds – including three on the offensive end – and senior Trevor Montgomery had two points, two rebounds and two steals.
The Vandals play at home on Friday against Litchfield, and Jackson said that it will be a similar game.
In the first meeting of the season, Vandalia won, 64-49, but Litchfield’s standout player, Dale Volentine, scored 26 points, and the Vandals will likely move a lot of defenders to his part of the court.
Tuesday, Jan. 24
Points: Berning, 16; Ritchey, 14; Hosick, 10; Godoyo, 5; Wade Cowger, 4; Woolsey, 4; Quenten Austin, 2; Montgomery, 2.
Rebounds: Austin, 5; Wells, 5; Berning, 4; Hosick, 4; Woolsey, 4; Godoyo, 3; Team, 3; Montgomery, 2; Ritchey, 2; Cowger, 1.
Steals: Austin, 4; Berning, 3; Ritchey, 3; Montgomery, 2; Godoyo, 1; Woolsey, 1.
Blocks: Austin, 1; Woolsey, 1.
Record: 16-5 (5-2 SCC)