by Beau Wicker
Any concerns of a letdown in play due a lack of practice time for Caston’s boys basketball team became a moot point sometime during the second half here Friday night.
The Comets surged past West Central with a huge run and ran away for a 48-30 victory.
The Comets (5-5, 1-1 Midwest Conference) won their third game in their last four tries and handed the Trojans (4-6, 2-1) just their second defeat in their last six.
“I think the guys were ready to get back into the gym,” Caston coach J.R. Howell said. “I thought we came back to practice yesterday and I thought we brought a lot of intensity and I thought it showed tonight.”
Quentin Douglass had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists to lead the Comets. Brayton Jellison also had a big game with 14 points and 11 boards.
The Comets led just 27-26 after West Central’s Drew McKay recorded a three-point play following a steal with 5:26 left in the third quarter.
That’s when Douglass and the Comets really went to work. Oddly, their huge run started when Douglass air-balled a free throw which seemed to ruffle his feathers a little bit. Whether or not that had anything to do with it, the Comets took control from there.
They then embarked on an 18-0 run, and Jellison’s basket on an inbounds pass from Douglass gave them a 45-26 lead with 2:45 left in the game.
Douglass made his second free throw attempt to start the outburst. He then scored on a drive and later had a spinning move to the basket where he finished and drew a foul. He found Jellison for a three-point play to end the third quarter to give Caston a 35-26 lead after three.
Jellison opened the scoring in the fourth with a putback basket. Douglass then scored on a drive, hit a pair of free throws and then assisted a basket by Jake Kingery before Jellison’s basket ended the onslaught.
The Comets held the Trojans scoreless for 11:01 of the second half during the decisive run.
“I thought defensively this was one of our best games we’ve played,” Howell said. “We filled our assignments correctly and I thought we just did a really good job defensively. I think that attests to leadership on the floor and players digging in and wanting to guard somebody.”
The wheels completely fell off for West Central about midway through the third quarter.
“The break had a little something to do with it, but they had the same situation,” West Central coach Travis Stangland said. “They were just tougher than us tonight, period, end of story. They were the better team. They flat came out and they kicked our tail. We’re going to learn from it and we’re going to get better. It’s a sectional opponent and we’ve got to be ready in March. That team’s not 18 points better than us. I’d say that’s about the worst we’ve played. We’re going to come in this week and we’re going to get better.
“Our team just put our heads down and thought the game was over. We’ve got to continue to battle. We’ve just got to get mentally and physically tougher. Mental toughness is our biggest concern right now.”
The Trojans started out well enough. They were within 14-11 after one quarter, 25-19 at halftime and were within one point before the decisive run.
“They came in as a hot team. They won four of their last five. They’re a solid team,” Howell said. “It was one of those games where I didn’t want to the guys to think they could walk over them and I thought we did a good job of answering to that hopefully we can just keep this momentum and keep it going.”
Rebounding was also a concern for Stangland. His bigger squad was outrebounded 25-16 by the Comets.
Stangland said of his team’s start to the game: “I feel like we executed our game plan. We knew what they were supposed to do. The second-chance points ... they scored 10 and then they had four free throws. So I think they had 25 at half, 14 of them came off second chance. I think our halfcourt defense was good.
“Offensively we were stagnant, didn’t get much movement, shots weren’t falling, and that’s something that’s been a knock on us. If our shots aren’t falling we just hang our heads. I tell the kids all the time your most important shot is your next one. If you miss, get back on defense, don’t hang your head. Now we’ve got two mistakes, you miss your shot and you don’t get back on defense.”
Dustin Offenberger added seven points and five boards for the Comets.
McKay led the Trojans with 12 points. Kamrein Street added eight points and six boards.
Caston next hosts North Miami on Tuesday, while West Central hosts Westville on Friday.