Mexico boys break away from Boonville

Bulldogs break away from Boonville
Jordan Mitchell battles for a rebound against Boonville’s Luke Green and Charlie Bronakowski in the Bulldogs’ 81-67 win on Monday. [Eric Mattson]
Dave Faries

If there was a key to the Bulldogs’ 81-67 win over Boonville at The Sports Complex on Monday night, it was their ability to reverse suddenly from defense to offense and push the ball down court.

At least that’s Isaiah Reams’ interpretation. And the numbers bear him out.

With 6:20 remaining in the game, Mexico clung to a narrow 54-51 lead. One minute and 41 seconds later, it was a 66-51 ballgame. But as Bulldogs’ head coach Darren Pappas points out, the Pirates are a strong team – a big back line and shooters up and down the roster.

So with just 2:22 on the clock, Boonville was able to climb back to within 7 points.

No matter the Bulldogs outpaced the visitors 13-6 over that span.

“It was pretty rough at the beginning,” observed guard Jordan Mitchell. “But we worked on defense, and defense translates to offense.”

Although Mexico held the advantage at each break, the first half was a physical back and forth affair. The Pirates claimed the lead two minutes into the second period, when Lane West scored on a put back to tip the balance in their favor – barely – 22-21.

Twice Boonville extended the gap to 4 points, but each time the Bulldogs tugged them back. With 2:48 to go until halftime, Raef Yager stole the ball and raced to the basket, trailing defenders.

Instead of flying to the rim, however, he drew the Pirates big guys low and flipped the ball back to Reams, who hit a floater from the bottom of the key, knotting the game at 30-30.

“Pushing the ball on the break got me a lot of points,” Reams said.

He had 23 on the night. Michael White ended up with 7, but the shot he hit following Reams’ score – a power move through towering blue jerseys – put the Bulldogs up for good.

Still, the home side could not quite shake free from the Pirates. Each time Mexico edged out to a double-digit lead, Boonville brought them back.

Speed in transition, as Reams said, proved to be the difference. Mexico wore down the Pirates big forward and opportunities resulted.

It was a 3-point game when Mitchell drained a three to launch the Bulldogs on that 12-0 spree.

The coaches didn’t want me to take the shot, Mitchell said afterward with a chuckle, “so I had to make it.”

Peyton Willer found Drew Blevins on a break and the forward laid it in. Reams took advantage of a steal to score another fast break basket, along with a plus one. A Daeye Miller block on one end resulted in a Mitchell finger roll on the other.

Yager capped the run with a spin move off a screen, beating two Pirates to the rim.

“I love that move,” he said. “I had trouble finishing early in the game. That was a big moment.”

But Pappas knew they needed to cage Boonville’s shooters, at least as much as possible. Even a 66-51 advantage with half of the final quarter gone was not safe.

Boonville’s D.J. Wesolak responded with a three. Jackson Johns hit a short jumper and Luke Green nailed a three, followed by a lay up. The 10-point jab was deflected only by a Blevins put back.

But at 68-61 with 2:22 to go and the Bulldogs working more methodically, looking for an opening, Yager spotted Miller standing unguarded under the glass.

He whipped the ball on a line and Miller put it in.

“Isaiah was at the top, I was on the wing,” Yager said. “I saw a man come out to guard him, so I knew someone would be open. And then Daeye popped out of nowhere.”

Mexico scored 9 from the line as the Pirates tried to come back. But it was never again close.

Joining Reams in double-digits on the scoreboard were Blevins with 18 and Miller with 10. Mitchell was just shy, scoring 9 on the night. Yager added 8 to the 7 put up by White.

Willer hit a couple of threes.

Pappas credited ball movement and defensive stops for the win.

“Our guys find a way to get it done,” he said.


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