BETHEL — Playing the type of basketball that wins games in late February, East Clinton stifled Bethel-Tate Friday night in a 52-28 victory.
“It’s another step in the right direction for us,” EC head coach Tony Berlin said. “I’ve believed all year that we’re heading in the right direction. It showed on the defensive end.”
From the opening tip, East Clinton (11-8 overall, 7-5 SBC National) grinded out lengthy possessions on offense. At the end of those long possessions were open, high-percentage shots.
“We worked on that a lot, because I haven’t been happy with our shot selection and our quick shots which leads to other team’s runouts,” Berlin said. “We know, the closer the games are, we’ve got to be really efficient. We did it a lot better.”
The Astros scored the first eight points of the game. East Clinton made 6 of its first 7 shots from the floor. It was 14-4 after one quarter. Bethel would get no closer than seven the rest of the way.
On the other end of the floor, the Astros defense smothered the Tigers. East Clinton held Bethel-Tate 14 points below its lowest offensive output of the season.
The Tigers (6-14, 4-8) made just 9 of 38 from the floor and just 4 of 22 from three-point range.
Alex Pence had a strong game inside for the Astros. He made 6 of 7 from the floor and 3 of 4 from the line for 15 points.
It was the type of performance Berlin knows Pence can provide the Astros.
“He stepped up and played the way we’ve been waiting for him to play all year,” Berlin said. “He played with more aggression on both ends.”
On defense, Brendan Jenkins had the task of slowing Bethel-Tate guard Griffin Reinert. Jenkins hounded Reinert all night, holding him to just three points on 1 of 8 shooting.
“Jenkins has been solid for us all year on the defensive end,” Berlin said. “He’s a leader, and he’s got that toughness. He rises to the occasion.”
JT McCarren led the Astros with 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting. Wyatt Floyd added 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Jake Collins led the Tigers with 14 points and six rebounds.
Berlin knows first-hand that East Clinton will need to continue to play as it did Friday to be successful in the postseason.
“There’s a reason why the Wilmingtons, the Moellers win 45-40,” Berlin said. “You look at all those big Cincinnati schools, it’s about possessions and shot selection and taking care of the basketball.”
Feb. 9, 2017
@ Bethel-Tate High School
East Clinton 52, Bethel-Tate 28
(52) EAST CLINTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Brendan Jenkins 1-0-1-3, Branson Smith 1-1-0-3, JT McCarren 7-2-2-18, Alex Pence 6-0-3-15, Wyatt Floyd 5-0-0-10, Jacob Olds 1-0-0-2, Colten Vadnais 0-0-1-1. TOTALS 21-3-7-52.
(28) BETHEL-TATE (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Seth Becker 1-0-0-2, Griffin Reinert 1-1-0-3, Alex Manz 1-0-0-2, Jake Collins 5-2-2-14, Jacob Reinhart 0-0-2-2, Tyler Baker 1-1-2-5. TOTALS 9-4-6-28.
FIELD GOALS: EC 21/39 (McCarren 7/10, Pence 6/7, Floyd 5/13); BT 9/38 (Collins 5/15)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: EC 3/7 (McCarren 2/2); BT 4/22 (Collins 2/7)
FREE THROWS: EC 7/12 (Pence 3/4); BT 6/10
REBOUNDS: EC 29 (Smith 6, Floyd 6, Jenkins 4); BT 22 (Reinhart 8, Collins 6)
ASSISTS: EC 14 (Jenkins 4, Floyd 4); BT 4 (Reinert 3)
STEALS: EC 10 (Smith 4, Jenkins 3); BT 8 (Collins 4)
BLOCKED SHOTS: EC 2; BT 2 (Becker 2)
TURNOVERS: EC 13; BT 15
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton.