At the start of the third quarter, on the road at Crothersville, the Trinity Lutheran boys basketball team changed to a defensive scheme they had never put into play before in hopes of building a lead.
The strategy worked, as it caused seven turnovers following 16 minutes of play, and the Cougars rolled to a 78-55 win against the Tigers on Friday.
“In the third quarter we came out with a 1-3-1 defense and that threw them off a little bit,” Cougars coach Aaron Rudzinski said. “We haven’t really run the 1-3-1 at all this year, and the guys executed really well. They got them into some traps and forced some bad passes.”
In the first quarter, both teams opened with tremendous pace.
The Cougars opened on a 10-2 run at the 5:35 mark behind 3-pointers from Luke Stuckwisch and Jacob Christopher, and four points from Daniel Horton.
Down 19-11, with 2:35 left in the first quarter, Eli Mollet converted an and-one opportunity to narrow the Tigers deficit to five points.
However, the Cougars finished on a 6-1 run to lead 25-15 after eight minutes of play.
On the Cougars’ first possession of the second quarter, Horton converted an and-one opportunity but the Tigers’ Conner Adams immediately answered with a 3-pointer.
The Cougars built an 11-point lead, the first lead in double-digits, with 3:24 remaining in the half behind a bucket from Stuckwisch.
At the half, the Cougars maintained a 37-25 lead.
Following halftime, the Cougars unleashed their 1-3-1 defense.
“We were hoping to get some early steals and turnovers from them, and turn them into points,” Rudzinski said. The pace kind of got too fast. I really wanted to pin them down on the defensive side. With the press, we were kind of getting ourselves out of position, so we decided to take it off and switch it up in the third quarter. We focused more on the half court defense.”
The Cougars went on an 7-2 run capped by a Clayton Pottschmidt basket at the 6:03 mark.
Following one made free throw from the Tigers’ Jordan Schoenfelder, the Tigers went on a 5-0 run off a 3-pointer from Dylan Maschino and another Stuckwisch field goal.
After 24 minutes of play, the Cougars led 60-37.
In the fourth quarter, the Cougars were able to relinquish their bench and cruise to their third-straight win.
By the end of the night, 10 different Cougars scored in the game.
Mollet led the Tigers with 16 points, Adams added 13 and Schoenfelder finished with 12 on the night.
For the Cougars, Stuckwisch finished the high-man with 23 points followed by Horton with 17 and Christopher at 13.
Clayton Pottscmidt and Christopher led the Cougars with five rebounds apiece and Schoenfelder grabbed six boards for the Tigers.
“We had some guys who came in and stepped up for us,” Rudzinski said. “Clayton Pottschmidt had a nice game off the bench hustle-wise. Fortunately we were able to use everyone on the bench tonight. It’s nice when you have a game (Saturday) and everyone is ready for it.”
The Cougars (13-4) will host Paoli today. The Tigers (5-14) return to action Friday at Henryville.