Raiders showcase strengths in victoryDecember 2, 2018
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
HUNTINGBURG — Just a few minutes into Saturday night’s boys basketball game between Southridge and Corydon Central, the Raiders showed everyone in attendance who was going to be in control.
After recording a chase-down block on Corydon Central’s Jacob Eve, Colson Montgomery raced down to the other end to begin the offensive sequence. After a few solid passes, senior point guard Matt Price found Montgomery wide open for a three-pointer for the Raiders first points of the night.
While that play was just one of many solid sequences for Southridge in Saturday night’s 69-32 win over the Panthers, it showed that the Raiders were anxious to finally get back out on the court and begin their hunt for another successful season.
“That’s what we wanted to do — we wanted to keep our foot on the gas pedal and just keep going from there,” said Montgomery, who finished with 16 points for Southridge in the victory. “We didn’t want to slip up at all and let them think they had a chance to play with us.”
The victory was the first for new head coach Mark Rohrer in his Southridge tenure after a successful six-year campaign at South Knox that saw him win 94 games.
One of the keys for Southridge in Saturday night’s victory was the balanced scoring that the Raiders relied on. In his six years at South Knox, Rohrer was 15-0 when he had at least four players score in double-figures. Saturday night’s win over the Panthers? You guessed it, four players in double-digit scoring for the Raiders — Joe LaGrange led the way with 18, Montgomery added 16, Jaden Hayes finished with 15 and Garrett Voegerl scored 10.
“I’ve just been so impressed at practices how they’ve shared the basketball,” Rohrer said. “We need to still run some better action but there were times where we were just kind of able to out-talent them. Balanced scoring is obviously going to be something we’re going to look for all year.”
The Raiders started the game out fast as they jumped out to a 10-2 lead early thanks to a three-point bucket from Hayes. Hayes, a 6-foot-5 power forward/center, is no stranger to the deep ball as he shot 43 three-pointers a year ago. However, Saturday night’s victory marked just the third time in his career that he’s made at least three shots from downtown (he also made three threes against North Posey and Jasper last season).
With the three-point shot becoming such an important play for players of all positions in all levels of basketball, the long ball was something that Hayes worked on this past offseason.
“Anytime you can be a big and step out and play, it opens up plays for yourself but more importantly it opens up plays for your teammates,” Hayes said. “If my man has to come out and guard me, it opens up back cuts and so many other things for the offense.”
After jumping out to an 18-6 lead after the first quarter, the second quarter saw more of the same as the Raider offense continued to explode with big plays. Montgomery and LaGrange made a few big plays but the biggest of the half, maybe even the game, came when Voegerl threw down the hammer on a big dunk at the 5:51 mark which not only gave Southridge a 24-8 lead but also forced a Corydon Central timeout. The Raiders held a 31-15 lead at the halftime break.
Southridge was able to play a strong, suffocating brand of defense for pretty much the entire game but the third quarter was perhaps their most impressive defensive stand. Corydon Central didn’t score until the 1:08 mark of the third quarter when Joey Wiseman got a shot to fall. The Panthers only ended up scoring four points in the quarter. The fourth quarter was more of the same as strong defense continued to lead the Raiders while several reserves such as Carter Whitehead, Kaden Neukam, Austin Kaeck and Sam Sermersheim also got some varsity action late in the game and made the most of their minutes.
The defensive pressure the Raiders played with throughout the full 32 minutes was something that impressed Rohrer and it’s something he hopes to continue to see as the Raiders prepare for two tough opponents this weekend in Tell City and Evansville Mater Dei.
“We’re going to win a lot of games if we defend at a high level and I thought for the most part we defended at a high level throughout,” Rohrer said. “We had some stretches where they couldn’t even get good looks at the basket. When our defense is locked in like that at half-court, it will be difficult for teams to beat us.”
Hayes added: “We practice how we play, you have to have that same intensity. Corydon didn’t score until real late in the third quarter and that comes from practicing — that intensity is something that carries over into the games.”
The Raiders know they’ll have their work cut out for them in their next two battles against the Marksmen and the Wildcats. But with the excitement that’s currently surrounding the Southridge boys basketball program, the Raiders are ready to face any challenge head-on.
“We’re continuing to learn from the good and from the things they need to improve on. For as good as we played, there’s still going to be some areas we need to improve on like rebounding better early,” Rohrer said. “If these guys just keep taking the coaching that we give them, we’re just trying to make them better. Even though it’s early and we haven’t had a lot of practices together yet, we could be set up for a really special year.”
Montgomery added: “It’s going to be a new year for us and it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ve all gotten better and we’re just going to leave it all out there every single night.”
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