For the first time all tournament long, the South Central Cougars didn't have to play first thing in the morning.
And it looked like the change did the Cougars some good.
South Central took the lead right away and never looked back in a 58-42 victory over Maroa-Forsyth in last Tuesday's seventh-place game of the Vandalia Holiday Tournament.
The Cougars got off to a great start, never trailing and running out to an 11-2 lead.
South Central Coach Rick Simmons said it was important for his team to get off to a good start.
"It was nice to get off to such a good start, because it took the pressure off everybody," Simmons said. "I told the guys to use all the energy they had, hold nothing back and go out with a bang. And we wanted to be aggressive and take it to the hole. By getting off to such a good start, it alleviated a lot of the pressure. For once, I could breathe early in the game."
It was a nice way to end the tourney overall for South Central, who went 2-3 at the VHT.
"I'm pretty pleased, for the most part," Simmons said. "We still have a lot of things to work on, but I thought we did a lot of things right today. We didn't let them come back. In the past, we've struggled to hold teams off. I thought that was a good thing."
Evan Langley recorded a double-double for the Cougars with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Dre Hill added 13 points, wihle Brett Harmeier scored nine.
By the time the first period ended, South Central was up, 13-6. The Cougars scored the first six points of the second period for a 19-6 cushion.
The Trojans knocked down some shots from the perimeter to stay within striking distance. But after hoops inside by Langley and Dylen Peters, South Central had a 27-14 lead. By the break, South Central was up 29-17.
The Cougars stayed in front throughout the third period, taking a 46-32 lead into the final frame. Maroa-Forsyth looked out of sync offensively against the South Central defense the entire second half, and the Cougars had a comfortable, 51-35, lead with just over four minutes to play.
Another key to the win for the Cougars was being aggressive and getting to the foul line. South Central shot 31 free throws in the game, making 21. Maroa-Forsyth went to the line just four times, making three.
"If you make 21 free throws, that will win you a lot of ballgames," Simmons said.
Brody Adreon scored 13 points for the Trojans.
South Central is now 5-8.
"I saw a lot of positives in the tournament," Simmons said. "Our kids are making some improvements. Our ball-handling has to get better. We've shot the ball well when we get it in the right hands. Our defense is our No. 1 concern. We're looking for better things after the new year."
VHT: Seventh place:
South Central 58, Maroa-Forsyth 42
SC 13 16 17 12 — 58
MF 6 11 15 10 — 42
South Central: Harmeier 3 2-2 9, Ratermann 1 0-0 2, Hill 3 7-8 13, Wilkins 0 0-0 0, Markley 0 1-2 1, Langley 6 5-8 17, Riley 2 0-0 4, Peters 2 2-5 6, Powless 1 4-6 6. Totals 17 (1) 21-31 58. Three-pointer: Harmeier. Rebounds 29 (Langley 11). Fouls 8. Turnovers 15.
Maroa-Forsyth: Cliff 2 0-0 5, Adreon 5 0-0 13, Mandrell 1 0-0 3, Aeilts 2 0-0 5, Ritter 3 2-2 9, Reeser 1 1-2 3, Bryan 2 0-0 4. Totals 9 (7) 3-4 42. Three-pointers: Adreon 3, Clliff, Mandrell, Aeilts, Ritter. Rebounds 20 (Bryan 6). Fouls 22. Fouled out: Adreon. Turnovers 15.