TUSCOLA — Shelbyville used a 20-0 run during a 6:45 stretch from early in the opening quarter to early in the second quarter against Tuscola in Friday's Central Illinois Conference boys' basketball game. The Rams went on to win 74-54 to improve to 15-3 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
Tuscola, a team that lost its first five games before winning five of seven contests to finish out the 2017 portion of its schedule, entered the game averaging 43.7 points per game.
"It is very, very important to get the game at our pace," said Shelbyville coach Bob Herdes. "When the season is going good for you, you can withstand the tough starts, when it is going bad and a team explodes on you like that, it is kind of tough. It was great that way, they could not hold it and we could keep it moving. That made a big difference."
Another difference was the play of Brett Spears, who finished with 18 points and was one of three Shelbyville players to finish in double digits.
"I thought Brett Spears really set the pace on defense for us. He came out and got somethings done," said Herdes. "We came out on fire and played really well. I was pleased with our defense too. We were shutting them down and the guys were helping out. I think Brett Spears (who guarded Dalton Hoel) was just outstanding tonight. We came out and played really well early. We moved the basketball very efficiently against their zone. We got it inside and outside shots and got everybody involved."
Shelbyville led 5-3 with six minutes left in the first quarter after a 3-pointer by Tuscola's Tyler Meinhold. The Rams started its 20-0 run with a three-pointer by Spears. MalcMalcolmler, who led all players with 26 points, scored 4 points around a bucket by Turner Pullen, and Spears scored four straight, including a layup for an 18-3 lead with still two minutes left in the period. Pullen scored the final four points of a quarter in which Shelbyville was 10-of-18 (.555) from the field, while the defense held Tuscola to 1-of-10 (.100). Spears started the second quarter with a 3-pointer, giving him 12 of the first 25 points for the Rams. Hoel ended the run with a 3-pointer.
Tuscola scored 8 straight points in the next 2:11 as Haden Cothron, who finished the game making 6-of-12 3-pointers for a team-high 18 points, sank his first three of the night, and Brayden VonLanken scored two of his 14 points to make it 25-11.
The Rams answered with a 9-0 run as Maclolm Miller, who entered the game with an average of 25.4 points, hit three straight 3-pointers to bring the lead up to 23 points at 34-11 with 2:57 left in the first half.
"Malcolm struggled early, but then he hit three in a row," said Herdes. "Malcolm, to his credit, has learned that if he does not stand out there and guys come after him, if he cuts through and with his size he is a little bit of a problem."
Herdes was happy with the way the way they moved the ball.
"Turner Pullen had some really nice assists, and Cade Watson does a good job looking for people," said Herdes. "I thought Kade Kull did a great job of driving the wing a couple of times on the fastbreak and that is something we need. "
Shelbyville led 41-16 at the break and took its largest lead of the game with 6:18 left in the game on a pair of free throws by Pullen for a 65-30 advantage. Cothron hit five 3-pointers in the final 4:12 to make it a 20-point margin at then end of the contest.
Kull was also in double digits for the Rams with 13 points and Shelbyville finished the game shooting 52 percent overall, while the Warriors, 5-10 overall and 0-2 in the CIC, shot 33 percent, including 25 percent in the first three quarters.
"The thing I was most pleased with was we moved it around and get everybody involved and our defense is getting better," said Herdes. "We are doing a little bit better of a job of covering guys and switching and getting in front of the basketball and not giving up drives."
Jacob Kilber was also in double figures for the Warriors, who have now lost three straight, with 10 points.
Shelbyville is to play host to Warrensburg-Latham Tuesday in another CIC game.