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VANDALIA – Despite knowing that last Tuesday’s season-opener needed to be played at Vandalia’s tempo, Vandals coach Brian Buscher had no problem employing a player with limited experience as his point guard.
Not that he had much choice.
Junior Collin Nestleroad played with poise to lead four Vandals in double-digit scoring and forced six of South Central’s 29 turnovers in a 62-50 Vandals victory.
“He still has some learning to do, but he has confidence handling the ball,” Buscher said. “More than anything, at least tonight, he had a little more speed than the guy who was guarding him.
“And he can get up and guard somebody, and he’s always been that way.”
Nestleroad – one of just two varsity regulars returning from last season – tied for the team lead with 15 points, joining senior forward Colton Woolsey, and his six steals led the team.
Those two are likely to continue pacing the team in scoring, though the Vandals (1-0) did get consistent scoring in the opener, with seniors Carson Smith and Wade Harre both adding 11 points.
“Balanced scoring is awesome, I’ll take it everyday,” Buscher said. “But I think there will be nights when Colton has a lot more than anybody else, and I think there will be nights when Collin will.
“I don’t know who will score what, because it’s not like we gear it toward anybody,” he said. “It’s more a fluke that it came out balanced.”
Junior Luke Hollinshead scored six and added a team-high eight rebounds and five assists, and senior Jake Shulman added four points to round out the scoring for the Vandals.
South Central (0-1) was led by sophomores Brett Harmeier and Chase Riley, who each scored 10 points, and junior Evan Langley, who just missed a double-double, with nine points and nine rebounds.
After struggling to close out the first half – South Central used an 8-3 run in the final two minutes of the half to take a 32-31 lead into the locker room – the Vandals opened the second half with a new-found energy, using a 13-0 run to take control of the game.
Vandalia scored on seven of its first eight possessions in the third quarter, getting a pair of 3-pointers along the way to open up a 44-32 lead.
“We were doing it to ourselves,” Buscher said of the second-quarter struggles. “They came out in a zone, and we weren’t thinking that we could push the ball in transition as hard as we do in man-to-man, so our tempo slowed down.
“We talked at halftime about pushing the ball up the floor,” he said. “I didn’t realize it was 13-0, but I knew we got the tempo going and did some good things.”
The margin stayed fairly steady for the rest of the game, with South Central never closing the gap more than the final margin of 12.
Notes: A combined eight players made their varsity debut during the game … Each team made four 3-pointers … The Vandals won the turnover battle, 17-29 … Vandalia won last season’s matchup, 46-26.
Tuesday, Nov. 26
South Central 50
Points: Nestleroad, 15; Woolsey, 15; Harre, 11; Smith, 11; Hollinshead, 6; Shulman, 4.
Rebounds: Hollinshead, 8; Smith, 5; Woolsey, 5; Team, 4; Harre, 2; Nestleroad, 2; Shulman, 1.
Assists: Hollinshead, 5; Woolsey, 3; Harre, 2; Nestleroad, 2.
Steals: Nestleroad, 6; Harre, 4; Smith, 3; Woolsey, 3; Hollinshead, 2; Austin Durbin, 1; Colin Ledbetter, 1.
Block: Woolsey, 1.
Points: Harmeier, 10; Riley, 10; Langley, 9; Tyler Ross, 8; Jon Arnold, 4; Dre Hill, 4; Sean Oleary, 4; Kerrigan Henken, 1.
Rebounds: Langley, 9; Hill, 7; Ross, 4; Arnold, 3; Riley, 3; Jace Wilkins, 2; Trever Butts, 1; Dead-ball, 1.
Assists: Harmeier, 2; Henken, 2; Hill, 1; Riley, 1.
Steals: Harmeier, 1; Henken, 1; Langley, 1.
Block: Ross, 1.