Raef Yager attacked the rim strong to produce 16 points and Zach Watkins added 14 Thursday to guide Mexico boys basketball to an 85-51 home victory against Capital City in non-league play.
Mexico's athleticism, height and experience overmatched a Cavaliers program in its first season. The first-year Jefferson City high school enrolls only freshmen and sophomores this school year and will gradually add a junior and senior class in years to come.
To Capital City's credit, the young squad stayed within a couple of possessions from Mexico for the first four minutes, and the Cavaliers played fundamentally sound until the final buzzer.
However, when the likes of Yager, Watkins, Ty Prince and Isaiah Reams' speed and agility took over, coupled with the muscle around the rim exhibited by Drew Blevins, the Bulldogs seized control of the tempo from late in the first quarter through the rest of the way.
“Our game plan was to play as aggressive as we can on both ends and apply much pressure on their young guards as possible to create turnovers,” Mexico coach Darren Pappas said. “This would lead to what we do best and that's get the ball out quickly in transition and try to score.”
Mexico (9-10) led by nine after the first quarter, and Michael White's buzzer-beating 3-pointer sent the Bulldogs into halftime enjoying a 52-27 command. A running clock was executed in the final eight minutes after the Bulldogs owned a 71-39 lead entering the fourth.
As a result of the Bulldogs' relentless attack in the paint, Mexico made 59% of its field goals on 29-for-49 shooting and dropped in five of 12 shots from deep.
Mexico also was productive at the stripe, making 14 of 18 free throws.
“The shooting numbers we had were great and I hope we continue to do that as we head into districts in a couple of weeks. This was one of our better games of shooting the ball,” Pappas added.
“Defensively we wanted to work on our communication and rotate as we close in on shooters as much as possible. We want to do a better job of holding our opponent to one shot and out. There were two to three possessions by Capital City where we let them get three opportunities on each of those possessions. We must do a better job rebounding to prevent things like that.”
Two other Bulldogs reached double figures, and 11 of the 14 names on the varsity roster scored in this game. Keyon Mahaney and White came off the bench to supply 10 points each, Blevins muscled in nine, Reams had eight and Prince seven. Matthew Huemann scored four points, while Jordan Shelton, Daeye Miller and Lane Cook each chipped in two.
Cavaliers sophomore Corde Brown led all scorers with 20 points, while Mitch Renfrow and Blake Meredith added eight and six points, respectively, for Capital City (2-16).
In the preceding boys jayvee game, the young Bulldogs improved their season record to 11-1 by defeating Capital City 59-36.
Mexico is scheduled to hit the road for their next two contests playing next Tuesday at Kirksville and Feb. 20 at Brookfield.