Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Defense pumps up Cutthroats in 51-26 triumph

Steals, boardwork lead the way

With the Cutthroat defense stealing and swarming over Shoshone, The Community School student rooting section got the "Go, Fight, Swim," chant going in the third quarter Friday at The Fish Tank.

And the Cutthroat boys responded. Sun Valley (1-3, 1-0 league) shrugged off a Shoshone rally and embarked on a 15-0 fourth-quarter run that capped a 51-26 Northside Conference boys' basketball win over the Shoshone Indians (0-4, 0-1).

Junior Christian Cairncross (11.3 ppg) sparked the Cutthroats with a game-high 13 points (8 in the second half) plus 3 rebounds and 4 steals. In all, seven Cutthroats scored as the home team shot 39% from the field.

The first win and first league win of the 2005-06 hoops campaign for coach Mike Wade's Cutthroats was built on tough defense. He said, "Our man-to-man defense worked really well and our zone did well, too. We got a lot of steals off the defense.

"We've been emphasizing to the guys that if we're going to be a team that has to work hard for its offense, we're going to have to get the ball, scrap, fight and hustle just to stay in the games. I was pleased with the effort tonight. The guys played hard.

"It's great to get that first conference win of the season."

With 6-5 sophomore post Mac Whittington in foul trouble for much of the first half, the Cutthroats had to find another way to get into their half-court offense. They did it by sharing the load—opening up a close 8-8 game with balanced scoring and a 14-2 run ending the second period.

Spencer Harris' putback midway through the second quarter gave the Cutthroats the lead for good, at 10-9. Brendan Nelson hustled for his own rebound and scored from 13 feet, then Alden Remington hit a 17-footer. Remington stole the ball and fed Jeff Gaecke, who was fouled and made the old-fashioned 3-point play for a 17-9 lead. Remington followed with an 18-footer and Cairncross closed the first half with a 3-pointer for a 22-11 Sun Valley cushion.

Coach Larry Messick's Indians, helped by the scoring of junior Zach Shull (8 points), sliced their 16-point deficit to 36-26 before the Cutthroats went on their final 15-0 streak. The home team did it mostly on defensive steals, transition and press breaks.

"We are definitely the most pressed team in the conference, but we broke the press well," Wade said. His team had only 11 turnovers.

Brendan Nelson, a 5-8 Sun Valley junior, finished with 6 points, a team-high 8 rebounds and 4 steals.

Whittington (7 rebounds, 3 blocked shots) scored all 11 of his points in the second half. Remington (3 assists, 2 steals) added 10 points, Spencer Harris had 6 points and 3 boards, Gaecke 3 points and Kevin Wade 2 points and 2 assists.

The Cutthroats have a tough task when undefeated Carey (5-0) comes to The Fish Tank Friday, Dec. 16. The Panthers have won two early-season tournaments—their own Carey Holiday Tournament and last weekend's Murtaugh tournament.

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