January 18, 2014

Balanced Comets take down Rebels

FULTON — Starting with the Caston Shootout from earlier in the month, J.R. Howell’s Caston squad has been able to mend its early wounds from the comforts of home.

The Comets entered Friday night’s game having won four of five games during the home stretch and were looking to continue the success against conference foe South Newton Friday.

Needless to say, the Rebels have had another rough start to their season, entering at 1-6 so far. In fact they’ve gone just 3-68 going back to the 2010-2011 season.

In his second stint as head coach at South Newton, Michael Hall is trying to resurrect his once-found success, having led Rebel teams to 258 victories and three sectional titles.

Balanced scoring was the key Friday, as the Comets jumped on South Newton early. Caston scored 12 unanswered points to start the game and never looked back, finishing with a 55-38 victory.

Quentin Douglass got things started with a 3 followed by consecutive stickbacks by juniors Jake Kingery and Alex Howdeshell. The surge culminated with another 3 by freshman Eli Douglass. A Howdeshell jumper gave Caston a 16-4 lead, but Trever Lowe scored on a steal and layup as time expired to draw the Rebels to within 10 after one.

Junior Dustin Offenberger drilled a 3 to start the second, adding to his four first-quarter points. After a 5-0 run by South Newton junior Levi Hall, Caston proceeded to go on a 10-0 run to close out the half. Quentin Douglass and Offenberger scored on back-to-back three-point plays to give Caston a 29-13 lead at halftime.

Despite a recent slump from long-range, Offenberger has been a key part of Caston’s new inside threat.

“I’ve been trying to attack the rim more,” he said. “Coach Howell has been telling me to take it to the rim, and be strong with the ball.”

The start of the third period saw the Rebels make their last stand and quite possibly gave them a glimpse of the future. Six-foot-5 sophomore Jarrett Hammell ignited South Newton by hitting a jumper from the wing followed by two more buckets to draw the deficit to nine with 4:22 to play. He led South Newton with 15 points in the game. Eli Douglass answered the brief run with a 3 followed by two baskets by Brayton Jellison.

The Comets’ lead ballooned to 47-25 after another 9-0 run began the final quarter, fueled by Offenberger. He finished with a team-high 14 points, followed by Quentin Douglass with 12. The Comets outrebounded the Rebels 19-11 and shot 56 percent from the field including 4 of 6 from 3.

“Attacking the basket has taken our offense to a new level and we’re getting to the foul line more lately,” Howell said. “We’ve been telling Dustin to not settle for 3s. He’s shown that he can be successful using his size by attacking the basket.”

Caston (7-5, 2-1 Midwest Conference) travels to Rochester Tuesday before coming back home to host three straight games.

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