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Maconaquah routs North Miami in TRC boys basketball opener

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

The opening TRC boys’ basketball game of the season for Maconaquah and North Miami was barely three minutes old when it became clear who was going to be walking away with a win Friday evening.

The host Braves shot out to an 8-0 lead after a minute-and-a-half, held an 18-3 lead 3:18 into the game, outscored the Warriors 35-11 in the opening quarter and never looked back in a 93-42 win.

Maconaquah head coach Tim Maiben said the players brought the game straight to North Miami from the opening tip.

“We were happy with the intensity level we were able to keep up throughout the game,” Maiben said. “The guys also handled the physicality of the game well, which was key.

“There have been times in the past where in physical games, maybe someone got fouled and didn’t handle it well. We felt like the guys handled that well tonight.”

North Miami assistant coach Braden Chandler said the coaches saw the things they were looking for coming  into the game.

“We were going into the game measuring effort, enthusiasm and how much energy the players were going to bring into this,” Chandler said. “We’re not the team we’re going to be later but we have some things to clean up.”

The tone for the game was set in the first 1:33 with Maconaquah getting a pair of baskets from Connor Middlekauff and two more from Chandler Pitts and Ethan Larason for an 8-0 lead.

Greg Sonafrank hit a three for the Warriors before Bryce Ward scored, Pitts converted a three-point play and Larason dropped in a three and added another basket for an 18-3 lead barely three minutes into the game.

Nate Hill grabbed a pair of baskets back for the Warriors and the lead was closed down to 22-10 after a free throw from Zane Briggs and a Patrick Masters layup.

The Braves finished the quarter with a 13-1 burst with Ward hitting from close twice, Pitts knocking down a three and layup and baskets from Larason and Chance Hagan to close out a 35-11 first period.

Chandler said the players were a little nervy in the beginning but continued to battle throughout the half.

“We started the game a little hesitant,” Chandler said. “Maconaquah came out and took some things away from us early that we hadn’t had time to work on and make better.

“The guys are still trying to get on the same page. We still wanted to make sure that they brought effort and energy, which was something they did going forward.”

The only thing that derailed the hosts’ momentum was fouls as Pitts, Larason and Ward each picked up two fouls while Hagan and Cody Koebler were dinged three times.

Constant lineup rotation broke up the Maconaquah offensive flow while conversely, North Miami took 13 trips to the free throw line, knocking down 10.

Despite having to go to the end of a short bench, Maiben was happy with what he saw from the reserves while noting that the fouls that were called were obvious calls to make.

“We rotated way more than we have the past couple of years,” Maiben noted. “It was fun to be able to do.

“It’s hard sometimes to stay out of foul trouble but we made it easy for the official to make a call at times and we have to make it so that they aren’t easy calls to make.”

The Warriors only hit one shot from the field in the period, a Hill three, allowing the Braves to extend the lead to 52-24 by halftime when Pitts closed the quarter with a 25-foot basket.

Maiben said keeping the visitors from developing hot hands was key to making the first half look as lopsided as it did.

“We knew they had kids who could get hot and shoot the ball, so we wanted to make sure we gave up no easy buckets,” Maiben said. “We did a pretty good job of that.

“There were a couple of series where they got some scores that we weren’t happy with but the guys that bought in, they were upset with one another when we gave up easy scores. That’s a sign of a special team when they take that kind of pride in their defending.

“North Miami did get to the free throw line more than we wanted to but we did a good job on the floor,” Maiben added.

Maconaquah continued to power past the North Miami defense with seven of the first nine points of the third quarter, though there was a brief moment of concern when Pitts landed awkwardly trying to collect a rebound, temporarily leaving the game.

A three-point play from Larason and a Middlekauff jumper after some scrappy play saw the Braves hold a 64-28 lead before tempers threatened to boil over.

The fouls that plagued the hosts in the second quarter soon became a problem for the Warriors with the visitors picking up fouls at a quick pace, putting Maconaquah in the double bonus at the 1:39 mark of the period.

A minute before, Ward poked the ball free from Hill and a frustrated Hill committed a foul immediately after.

The former teammates squared up to one another with Hill being assessed a technical foul for his part in the exchange, his fourth foul at that point, and did not reenter the game.

Maconaquah finished the frame with a 74-34 lead and started the fourth quarter with a pair of triples from Ward and a third from Hagan.

The teams played fairly even throughout the remainder of the quarter with the lead reaching a peak of 55 following a three from Sam Bourne before the hosts finished with a 51-point win.

Both schools play a pair of games next week with North Miami hosting Culver Tuesday.

Chandler said the team would get back to the drawing board but was confident the players would have the game flushed out quickly.

“We’ll shake this off pretty easy,” Chandler said. “We’ll talk about the things that we didn’t do on the practice floor and will get better.

“Come Tuesday, we’ll put out our energy and effort. There’s nobody ready to quit in the locker room and the enthusiasm is still high.”

Maconaquah will have a back-to-back set Friday and Saturday nights, starting with a trip to Wabash before hosting 2A No. 1 Oak Hill.

Maiben said the players were very upbeat in practice and had to maintain the work levels they had put in the previous week to keep the conference wins coming and challenge the Golden Eagles.

“We have to keep focusing on the positives that we did (Friday) and work on the things we can still do better,” Maiben said. “If we’re not willing to improve, we can’t reach that next level.

“Wabash has a very good team this year and Oak Hill is very good. This will be one of the toughest weekends for us and the intensity level this weeks has to be there at all times if we want to win those games.”

At Maconaquah

North Miami 11 13 10 8 — 42

Maconaquah 35 17 22 19 — 93

Scoring

North Miami — Working 12, Hill 10, Hanley 7, Briggs 5, Sonafrank 4, Masters 4, Sanderson 0, Goulette 0, Carter 0, Musselman 0, Shurboff 0, Wilson 0

Maconaquah — Pitts 28, Larason 20, Ward 18, Middlekauff 10, Bourne 5, Koebler 5, Hagan 5, Borden 2

Next Game: North Miami (1-2, 0-1 TRC) hosts Culver Community (0-3) Tuesday at 6 p.m. Maconaquah (1-1, 1-0 TRC) travels to Wabash 3-1, 1-0 TRC) Friday at 6:15 p.m.