When Eisenhower’s leading scorers, struggled to get going Monday night at Maize South, the Tigers’ role players kept their offense in tact.
In the fourth quarter, Ethan Stewart came up with a play bigger than his 13 points off the bench.
An offensive rebound allowed Dylan Vincent to score a layup with under two minutes to go and keep the Tigers in control in the fourth quarter. With Stewart’s play off the bench and double digit points from three other starters, Eisenhower was able to prevent a Maize South comeback in the second half and stay undefeated with a 73-70 win on Monday night.
“When people are really focused on me, it gets a lot of the pressure off the other guys because they don’t have to create a lot because they are open already,” said Vincent, Eisenhower’s leading scorer. “Ethan is a really good spot-up shooter. Jeff (Wake) is a good spot-up shooter. My brother (Jordan Vincent), is really good at attacking. I thought they really stepped up in that first half.”
Vincent knocked down two quick three-pointers early in the second quarter stretched the Eisenhower lead to five. After Vincent got caught with his second foul, Eisenhower kept their offense rolling behind three-point shooting from Stewart.
Stewart, who was averaging 6.4 points, knocked down three three-pointers and stretched the Eisenhower lead out 31-22 with 2:14 left in the second quarter. The other starters assisted Stewart on the offensive end, putting Eisenhower in a comfortable 11-point halftime lead.
“For us, we preach confidence in all of our guys,” Eisenhower coach Steve Blue said. “We encourage them to shoot the open shot when they have it. We tell them the only way that guys are going to get open is if they’re sharing the ball and everybody is able to score. It’s all about sharing the ball and Dylan is a great facilitator when he needs to be.”
Maize South came out of the gates in the second half scorching the net. Nolen Veenis scored three consecutive baskets to cut the deficit down to 37-32 with 6:10 left in the third quarter.
The Mavericks captured the lead two minutes after that off a basket from Kael Kordonowy, who finished with 18 points. Using Veenis throughout their offensive system, Maize South cut the lead down to one point with just under five minutes to go.
Veenis, however, had to watch the last four minutes of the game from the bench after committing his fifth foul.
“We just felt Nolen could score and the first call out of the half was to give Nolen an ‘iso’ play,” Maize South coach Kip Schultz said. “When he puts the ball on the floor and gets to the rim, good things happen. We just continued to use him and we have set plays that we use just for him. Once he hit two in a row, we just kept calling (the plays) until he got that last foul and we had to pull him out.”
Despite facing full-court pressure for a majority of the second half, Eisenhower managed to only turn the ball over six times. The Tigers also kept their poise at the free throw line in the late-game situation, knocking down 12 free throws. Dylan Vincent finished with a game-high 25 points.
Blue said that the players’ willingness to share the ball has helped the Tigers create a foundation for success on the offensive end.
“We’re doing an excellent job of taking care of the ball,” Blue said. “We like to think that we have two point guards on the floor with Dylan and Jordan. The other guys we have up there are seniors and upperclassmen. We just talk about valuing the ball and making the extra pass. When you’re not being selfish, I think that helps out and I felt like we were very unselfish tonight.”
Eisenhower 17 20 19 17 — 73
Maize South 16 10 26 18 — 70
Eisenhower: D. Vincent 25, Stewart 13, J. Vincent 11, King 10, Wake 10, Morris 2, Paul 2
Maize South: Kordonowy 18, Veenis 16, Bontrager 11, Knoblauch 10, Wiedemann 8, Hartig 7