WILMINGTON — Wilmington ran roughshod over county and Southern Buckeye Conference American Division rival Clinton-Massie, 71-47, Tuesday at Fred Summers Court in the conference opener for both squads.
“It was a perfect storm of having a great game Saturday, guys gaining confidence and playing a county rival,” WHS head coach Jermaine Isaac said. “As a coach, you don’t have to say much to your guys to get them up for this type of a game. Our guys were ready, and we wanted to send a message that we’re not that same old Wilmington. We are a lot better than being second-to-last in the league.”
The Falcons (0-3) struck first with a three-pointer and then the Hurricane (3-1) scored the next 15.
“We’ve got to get better, and that’s on me,” CM head coach Steve Graves said. “I’m the leader of this program, and I have to find ways to get these guys better. Tonight was a good butt-kicking, and it’s on me.”
Wilmington led 40-19 at the break. It was the first time Wilmington hit that mark in a half since Feb. 1, 2020, when it had 46 in a 96-39 win versus Washington Court House.
“Our first half defensive effort was fantastic. Right away, we punched them in their mouth, got some turnovers quick,” Isaac said.
Wilmington’s largest lead of the night was 52-24 midway through the third quarter. The Hurricane’s lead dipped below 20 just once in the second half, 57-38 in the final seconds of the third.
“We talk about mentality, and Wilmington has that mentality of wanting to stop people,” Graves said. “I think their coach was quoted earlier in the preseason review as calling them ‘smash-mouth’ Wilmington defense, and that’s what that was tonight.”
Luke Blessing led the Hurricane with 21 points. Teammate Collin Barker added 19.
“Luke was pumped and ready to go,” Isaac said. “Luke was a kid I coached in youth basketball. We have a very special relationship. He knows how bad we wanted this one.”
Blake Ireland led Massie with 12 points.
December 14, 2021
@Fred Summers Court
Wilmington 71, Clinton-Massie 47
(47) CLINTON-MASSIE (fg-ft-tp) Englehard 1-0-2, Euton 2-2-8, Zantene 3-2-9, Ireland 5-1-12, Stulz 2-0-5, Theetge 0-0-0, Zimmerman 0-0-0, Jones 1-0-3, Trick 1-4-6, Muterspaw 0-0-0, Williams 1-0-2. Total 16-9-47. 3-point goals: 6 (Euton 2, Zantene, Ireland, Stulz, Jones). FTM-FTA 9-18, 50 percent.
(71) WILMINGTON (fg-ft-tp) Blessing 8-4-21, Brown 1-0-2, Baltazar 5-0-11, Bernhardt 4-0-8, Barker 9-0-19, Warix 1-0-3, Killen 0-0-0, Cochran 1-0-3, Platt 0-0-0, Griffith 1-0-2, Lazic 1-0-2. Total 31-4-71. 3-point goals: 5 (Blessing, Warix, Baltazar, Barker, Cochran). FTM-FTA 4-5, 80 percent.
Shawn Robinson covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @twinzdad01.