HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: INDIANA 66, GREENSBURG SALEM 53 -- Indians breeze to another easy win, 3-0 start
Three games, three comfortable victories.
Indiana completed its season-opening homestand with another relatively easy win, 66-53 over Greensburg Salem, in a WPIAL non-section boys’ basketball game that was not as close as the final score indicated on Tuesday night at Fifth Street Gymnasium.
The Indians led 61-41 with 4½ minutes left, and their lead wasn’t particularly threatened at any point after halftime. Indiana opened the season with a 49-point win over Calvary Baptist of Meadville and a 28-point decision over Hollidaysburg in its tip-off tournament. The Indians visit Mount Pleasant for their first road game Friday evening.
“It’s nice to be 3-0,” Darrious Carter, Indiana’s 6-foot-5 senior forward, said. “We weren’t taking any of these games lightly. We were just doing what we had to do.
“We were working hard in practice in the offseason, and it’s shown on the court.”
Carter and Riley Stapleton led Indiana with 16 points each, and Carter added 11 rebounds for a double-double. Kevin Jack scored 13 points, and the Indians shot 47.2 percent (25 of 53) overall. They pulled away with a 13-4 second-quarter run to go into halftime up 41-28 and maintained their lead between 15 and 20 points for most of the second half before the Lions (0-3) scored 12 points in the last five minutes when the result wasn’t in question.
“We made that nice little run in the second quarter, and that shows our explosiveness as a team,” Indiana coach Greg Lezanic said. “We can score a lot of points quickly.”
Indiana didn’t necessarily do that in the way it’s used to. Instead of its preferred run-and-gun style, the Indians found themselves in a half-court battle most of the night.
“We played at their tempo the whole night,” Lezanic said. “We’re developing a team that is physically strong enough, quick enough and has outside shooters. We want to play this way, but we’ll play you however you want to play us. If we get a night like tonight where it’s more of a half-court game, that might not be our best, but we’re OK. That’s what’s nice about this team. We’re really developing a multi-dimensional flavor.”
Indiana showcased its most talented, deepest roster in a long time in front of a couple of old faces. Jeff Reed, who coached Indiana for six seasons from 2006 to 2012, is an assistant coach for Greensburg Salem under head coach Craig Mankins. Mankins was an assistant for Reed at Indiana.
“We wished him the best of luck, and he moved to a different school,” Carter said of Reed. “That doesn’t make us want to beat him, but at the same time, you don’t want to lose to your old coach.”
“With Coach Mankins and Coach Reed coming back, it was fun,” Lezanic said.
“There was a lot of talk between the coaches, between the players and coaches. It was almost like an alumni game. It was almost like a reunion for the kids, and it was a fun night for them.”
It was particularly fun for Indiana, which was able to withstand the Lions’ physical attack. Carter was a rock in an otherwise difficult rebounding battle for the Indians.
“It’s definitely better to play more physical (opponents),” Carter said. “Fouls didn’t help at all, but playing more physical is just the type of game I play. … They came out crashing the boards really hard. We didn’t expect them to crash that hard, but once we settled down and started hitting our shots, we did what we had to do.”
As a team, Indiana continued to show an ability to find holes in opposing defenses, getting the ball to a player with a favorable matchup for several plays at a time. Carter scored the first three baskets of the third quarter, and he and Jack had strong runs in the first quarter. Stapleton was targeted routinely in the second half.
“They’re smart kids,” Lezanic said. “I know from my old days of playing, when someone’s hot, the No. 1 rule is, get him the ball. … With these kids, I don’t have to tell them. They know who’s hot, and boy, that ball comes flinging back around, so you ride that tide. We have so many kids that can put the ball in the basket that you don’t have to have that one person that just has to score night after night after night. That’s definitely a luxury that a lot of times in high school you don’t have.”