Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Defense sparks red-hot Cutthroats to 55-39 league win

Coach Wade earns 100th varsity victory

Express Staff Writer

Community School boys' basketball coach Mike Wade didn't make a big deal Friday night about earning his 100th varsity coaching victory at the Sun Valley independent school.

What he wanted to discuss afterwards was the way the red-hot Cutthroats played defense in posting their first Northside Conference win of the season, a 55-39 home success over Shoshone that really wasn't as close as it seemed.

Clinched by a 36-19 run in the middle quarters that crested the Cutthroat cushion at 26 points in the third period, the win assured the unbeaten Cutthroats (5-0, 1-0 league, 63.0 ppg) of the best start for a basketball team in school history.

"We played outstanding defense all game," Wade said. "Everywhere they (Shoshone) were, we were. We switched defenses a lot and did a good job mixing it up without getting confused. We held a pretty good scoring team down."

It helps to have a smart, soft-shooting and strong rebounding post player like 6-6 senior Mac Whittington (22.2 ppg), who reached the century mark in points (111 in 5 games) faster than Wade reached his own century mark (100 wins in 272 games over 15 varsity seasons).

Stymied by Shoshone's box-and-one zone defense in the first quarter, the Cutthroats went to their bread-and-butter in the second and Whittington responded—scoring 13 of his game-high 23 points to give Sun Valley a 29-13 halftime lead.

"In the first quarter we were out-hustled by Shoshone and beaten to the ball," said Wade. "They blocked out Mac well. But Mac is just too big—he's a force out there and works real hard. Even with the box-and-one we could still throw it up and get the ball to him."

Two Indian defenders hung all over Whittington when Cutthroat senior point guard Ian Ingram gave him the ball on the first play of the second quarter. Whittington scored down low. Steals and fast break buckets by Ingram and Max Harris made it 15-9 Cutthroats.

Shoshone's 34th-year coach Larry Messick called time. But it didn't stop the Mac Attack.

It was Whittington, low, from Max Harris, and Mac on the pick-and-roll from Spencer Harris. The big guy converted a putback then took a Travis Stone close to the basket and finished a three-point play. Whittington kicked it out so Spencer Harris could bury a 3-pointer. Whittington calmly made a 12-footer at the buzzer.

Ingram (14 points including three 3-pointers, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists) continued to play well running the Cutthroat offense.

Doing their thing that usually makes something positive happen for the Fish were senior co-captains Max Harris (8 points, 4 boards, 4 steals, 3 assists) and Spencer Harris (8 points, 4 boards, 2 steals and 5 assists). Eddy Albarran added a field goal. Travis Stone contributed 2 steals and 3 assists.

Ten players scored for Messick's Indians (1-2, 0-1), who are likely to get better and better with seven seniors as the season goes on. Freshman Leonel Valencia (9 points, 5 steals) and junior Ryan Sortor (6 points, 7 rebounds) led the way.

The Community School, ranked second this week in the 1A boys' poll behind #1 Richfield, continued Northside Conference action Tuesday against Dietrich (1-4, 0-1). Unbeaten Carey (4-0, 0-0) arrives at The Fish Tank Friday, Dec. 14 to wrap up the pre-Christmas boys' cage schedule.

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