Pursuit of a perfect season for the Crater boys basketball team went out the window last Friday with a loss to Springfield to open Midwestern League play.
Pursuit of being the best version of the Comets they can be continued Tuesday night in the Crater High gym, and this time the results were far closer to the goal.
Crater controlled the tempo on both ends of the floor — sharing the basketball as well as the Comets have all season — to steamroll visiting Eagle Point for a 99-55 triumph in Central Point.
“I was happy with how we responded to (last Friday’s 64-45 loss) and the way in which we responded,” said Crater head coach Chris Schmerbach. “Against Springfield we didn’t share the ball very well but the whole night tonight it was just all about extra passes trying to find the next guy and the best shot.”
“That’s a fun way to play when people are making the extra pass,” he added. “It just cultivates really great basketball play, and you see that with all the great teams.”
The scorebook certainly bore that out for Crater (10-2, 1-1 MWL), with five players scoring in double figures and the Comets totaling at least 19 points in every quarter to systematically pull away from Eagle Point (2-10, 1-1).
“They were just able to score at will,” said EP interim head coach Micah Shibano. “With a talented team like that, if you allow them to get into their comfort zone and get it to their guys, there’s no surprise to what the score was. It probably could’ve been worse.”
Crater senior Mason Vranes knocked down five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 19 points with four assists, while senior Kiefer Edwards had 16 points and eight rebounds and Nate Horton added 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Senior Cade Weaver chipped in with 14 points, sophomore Jayden Vranes had seven assists and freshman Nathan Bittle continued his solid play with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for the Comets.
Eagle Point senior Dennen Adams led his team with 15 points while senior Zakk Scott added 10 points and six rebounds and senior Toby Hoppes had 10 points. The high-octane Eagles were unable to unleash their transition game thanks to Crater’s dominance on the boards and proficient offensive attack.
“We’re more of a transition-based team,” said Shibano, “but when we’re not able to get a rebound and run, our whole tempo bogs down and we just become stagnant. We just didn’t develop any rhythm because of a lack of defense.”
The Eagles trailed 40-25 by halftime and had a potential window of opportunity open when Edwards picked up his fourth foul with 6:33 remaining in the third quarter, but EP simply couldn’t take advantage against the determined Comets.
“That was a good opportunity for us but we just didn’t capitalize by buckling down in the third and fourth quarter,” said Shibano, whose team was outscored 59-30 in the second half. “Everytime we either scored or had a good offensive possession we got beat down the court on a consistent basis. It was just a lack of wanting to play defense on our part.”
The 99-point effort was a season-high for Crater, but Schmerbach was more impressed with substance over style by his players on Tuesday.
“It was pretty important,” Schmerbach said of the win. “I‘ve been talking to our guys all season that no matter what, one game this season isn’t going to define who we are. Even tonight, how we win or lose, that’s not going to define us. It’s consistent play over time and playing our best at the end of the season that’s going to define us.”
“Good teams and good players are going to have bad games, they just are,” he added. “The good teams learn how to get out of those ruts quicker than the bad teams. In previous years those valleys would be bigger and we want to make sure that we understand we’re not going to play perfect and we’re going to get beat. It’s how we respond that matters.”
EAGLE POINT (55): Adams 15, Z. Scott 10, Judd 1, L. Scott 9, Neyt 2, Graham 0, Shaffer 2, Hoppes 10, Chaparro 4, Masloski 0, Vance 0, Gelbrich 2. Totals: 20 8-20 55.
CRATER (99): J. Vranes 9, Horton 16, M. Vranes 19, Archer 0, Hollingsworth 3, Ki. Edwards 16, Kr. Edwards 7, Weaver 14, Stollings 5, Bittle 10. Totals: 38 13-20 99.
3-point goals — Eagle Point 6 (Adams 1, Z. Scott 2, L. Scott 2, Hoppes 2), Crater 10 (J. Vranes 1, Horton 2, M. Vranes 5, Hollingsworth 1, Weaver 1). Technical foul — Crater coach Schmerbach.
JV result — Crater won.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry