Mid-Prairie boys basketball coach Daren Lambert was hoping to see some defensive spark in the Golden Hawks’ preseason opener this past Saturday.
It was a clinic.
The Golden Hawks held Mediapolis to just two points total in the second and third quarters, and cruised to a 65-24 victory in a scrimmage that was played as a full-length game.
“We thought we could be a team that could score quick and score in bunches, and that was definitely something that happened,” Lambert said. “The big question was, how are we going to be defensively? We answered the call.”
The scrimmage was the first competition following five days of practice for the Golden Hawks, who open their season next Monday at Williamsburg. Mid-Prairie is coming off an 8-14 season last year in which they were eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the substate tournament.
For openers, the Golden Hawks tossed everything at Mediapolis. And it was less so for the Bulldogs than for the Golden Hawks themselves. Call it a week one pop quiz.
“This was the first kind of true test,” Lambert said. “This is day six, and we threw a lot at them in five days. We wanted to throw it all out there tonight so we can see it on film.”
Except for a third quarter play that took out center Aidan Rath with an ankle injury, Lambert liked what he saw.
Returning starters Carter Harmsen and Rath provided power inside, combining for 21 points and 13 rebounds. Ethan Kos, a junior, scored a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Seven of those boards came on the offensive end.
Juniors Jack Pennington, Justice Jones and Will Cavanagh, along with sophomore Alex Bean, provided defensive pressure and outside shooting. Bean scored 14 points, including a team-high four 3-pointers. Cavanagh had six assists.
The Golden Hawks went ahead 16-10 in the opening quarter, but then shut things down defensively. They shut out Mediapolis in the second quarter and were ahead by more than 30 points in the third quarter when the Bulldogs finally scored.
“We were pretty pleased with that,” Lambert said. “We mixed it up, man, zone, couple different zones, full-court pressure. The guys did a great job with that.
“When you press teams, your press starts to show up as the game kind of wears on. The big thing was, we weren’t hitting shots (at the start). We were taking good looks. We just wanted to stay locked in on our defensive end of the floor, let the offense come. And it did in the second half. Our guys started hitting those shots, the threes started falling.”
And this is the precise style that the Golden Hawks hope to use to their favor this season. Speed the game up, make a defensive stop and turn it into points on transition.
“We wanted to play our track meet style, so they tried to slow us down a little bit,” Lambert said. “We took care of the basketball. When you take care of the baskeball and play great defense, good things are going to happen.”
The Mid-Prairie JV team also grabbed a win Saturday, defeating Mediapolis, 58-37, in a physical game.