Whatever the coaches said in the locker room at halftime Dec. 4, Mason White took to heart. The senior guard scored all of his game-high 22 points in the second half and pushed his Blazers to a 74-51 win over Center Point-Urbana at home.
White’s tally puts him atop the WaMaC East individual totals, with 53 in two games. Logan Goedken leads the assist list with 12 and Jack Gehling is tops in rebounds, also 12.
With White quiet in the first half, it fell to Gehling to put up his numbers, 17 for the game, all in that half. And the Blazers needed all of them as CPU came out running to start the game on a 13-6 run. Gehling hit a trey at the three-minute mark, followed that with a basket-and-one off the inbounds play to make it 13-12. A Padraig Gallagher free throw knotted the game by the quarter.
The second frame was a back and forth affair that saw Gehling hit the first nine points, balancing two threes from CPU, to make it 24-22 CPU with two minutes left. They added to that soon after but Jake Hermsen hit a little hook and another short jumper to make it 27-26 with just over a minute left. Goedken put the Blazers up 28-27 after driving the floor for a lay-in but it was tied at 28 at halftime.
After halftime, Hermsen, White and Gallagher hit back-to-back-to-back treys for a 37-33 lead and Gallagher added three more the old-fashioned way to up that to 40-33. Enter the White show. He stole the ball and converted two straight, then took a Gallagher pass for his seventh straight point and a 47-35 lead. It was 54-42 at the break, following a Gallagher trey with 15 seconds to go.
Hermsen opened the fourth by dumping a Gallagher assist as part of his 17 for the night. Goedken connected from the arc and White started another string of scoring, this time hitting 11 in two minutes and assuring a win for the Blazers, up now 69-48. Gallagher added a lay-in and Sam Oberbroeckling came off the bench for the final tally.
Coach Michael Molony talked about the win. “We were focused on this game. We knew a year ago we left a lot of opportunities go to waste against them at home and we wanted to set a tone. CPU has become one of the better teams on the west end so it was big for us. They historically have the best defense on the west side. We knew they were a totally different challenge than Benton because they guard teams harder and have some size to match up with us.
“We could tell early they weren’t happy with their performance against West Delaware and took us out of rhythm. Going in tied at the half, we felt fortunate as we had a few fixable mistakes against their fast break that we could clean up. Couple that with a few friendly rolls on threes for them. Our bigs did a great job pacing us in that first half.
“In the second we knew with how well we can shoot threes (five guys made them) that we were just waiting for a run to happen. What truly sparked it was our defense. We did a great job playing the passing lanes and got back on the defensive end to force a ton of turnovers.
“I was really proud of how we shared the ball again in a complete team win. This is something we need to continue to work on as the competition continues o get better.”
The Blazers were just as effective Dec. 1 at Benton Community, running and gunning to a 73-47 season-opening win. They blasted the Bobcats with a 17-3 first-quarter advantage and maintained with double number scoring in each of the final three. White hit 31, Goedken 18 as the guards took over the scoring duties.
Molony added, “Our guys were chomping at the bit to get the season started and see some different opponents. We did about as much as we could in the offseason and preseason to get some needed experience playing together, given the virus.
“Before the Benton game, we talked a lot about how explosive we could be offensively if we just got enough defensive stops. Going there they always play well in their gym plus they can always shoot it. We got out early and our pressure led to a lot of Bobcat turnovers that helped us put up a crooked number at halftime.
“With our size and ability to shoot from the outside, they had to pick their poison. While we didn’t score from the inside like we wanted, our guys on the outside did a great job commanding the floor and picking their spots to shoot the three or drive inside.
“Overall, it was an impressive game for us to start and I was really happy with how we moved the ball and with our shot selection.”
Leading Beckmanagainst CPU were: scoring — White 22 (two treys), Gehling 17 (one), Hermsen 17 (two), Gallagher nine (two), Goedken seven (one), Oberbroeckling two; rebounds — Gehling eight, Logan Burchard four, Goedken and Hermsen three, Oberbroeckling two, Nate Schaefer and Gallagher one; blocks — Gallagher and White one; steals — White seven, Goedken and Burchard three, Gallagher two; assists —Goedken eight, Hermsen, Gehling and Gallagher two, Burchard, Schaefer and White one; team turnovers 12.
Beckman’s leaders against Beckman were: scoring — White 31 (two), Goedken 18 (two), Gehling nine, Gallagher seven, Schaefer and Hermsen four; rebounds — Hermsen, Burchard and Gehling four, Goedken and Gallagher three, White two, Schaefer and Oberbroeckling one; blocks — Hermsen three, Gehling and Gallagher one; steals — White five, Gehling three, Goedken two, Schaefer, Burchard, Gallagher and Ryan Burchard one; assists — Goedken four, Gehling and Schaefer two, White, Hermsen, Logan Burchard and Gallagher one; team turnovers —five.