Gallery by Tina Laney
Shady Spring boys basketball head coach Ronnie Olson said prior to the showdown with Wesley Christian that he believed his team could pressure the Circuit Riders into mistakes.
The Tigers were true to Olson’s words creating all manners chaos for the visitors from Kentucky.
Playing its typical smothering style of defense defense, Shady Spring converted turnovers and steals into buckets to roll past Wesley Christian 80-50 in their season opener.
“Chaos is the exact word. It is one game and we are not going to get wrapped up in it. This team has so much that they want to show and prove. It won’t be done until March, but it was a good start tonight. They want to continue the Shady tradition,” Olson said. “I always say we might lose games, but you don’t want to get out-played. They played like they had a lot to prove and I am proud of them. What I really like is that it was a team effort.”
Possessing a serious height advantage over the Tigers, the Circuit Riders could never exploit it all night.
Player of the Year candidate Ammar Maxwell controlled the opening and Khi Olson ripped a 3-pointer to give the home team a lead it would never relinquish.
“That was a big win. Everybody thought we were going to busted up because they were bigger than we were. We showed people what we can do,” Maxwell said. “We are all physical and size doesn’t matter to us. As long as we are physical and play with heart we will be fine.”
Shady immediately forced a turnover on the next possession and Maxwell found Jack Williams for a layup and a 5-0 lead.
Williams then answered a bucket from Wesley Christian with a 3-ball before Maxwell worked inside for a score.
An old-school 3-point play by Williams later in the quarter electrified the partisan crowd and gave the Tigers their first double digit advantage.
Back-to-back triples from Jalon Bailey and Josiah McKoy helped Shady end the first quarter with a 22-6 lead.
“Most games that we go in, we know we will be undersized. When a team has size like that, you have to play that much harder,” Bailey said. “We work on defense every day and we focus mainly on defense. It is defense first with us and it will be like that forever.”
The lead was 16 when Maxwell picked up his second foul of the game on what appeared to be a clean block.
The Tigers never blinked with their leader sitting the remainder of the quarter.
“My team has my back even if I am in foul trouble,” Maxwell said. “I know what my team is capable of and I know they can get it done.”
Over the final five minutes of the second quarter, Shady Spring outscored Wesley Christian 15-6 to take a 40-15 lead at the break.
“The exact words we said, was punch them in the mouth. We wanted to throw the first haymaker and we did,” Olson said. “I felt like when we did that our guys weren’t going to let up and they didn’t.”
In the first 16 minutes of play, the home team hit eight 3-pointers in addition to the 3-point play from Williams.
“It was a great shooting game,” Maxwell said, smiling big. “We were literally talking two days ago how we were going to shoot the lights out and it happened.”
To open the third quarter, Shady played like the team trying to erase a deficit. The quick burst out of the locker room was the knockout blow.
Olson drilled a long ball before finding Maxwell for a layup. Gavin Davis scored in the lane on an assist from Williams who also hit another 3-pointer to make it a 35-point lead three minutes into the quarter.
“Sometimes they are unselfish to a fault. I thought we passed up a couple good ones,” Coach Olson said. “Ammar did. He didn’t play much of the first half with foul trouble, but here is a guy going for Player of the Year that is passing up looks to give the ball to another player. That shows the kind of character we have on our team.”
The biggest lead for the Tigers came on back-to back deep balls from Rob Lynch and Braedy Johnston for an 80-27 lead late in the game.
Five players for Shady Spring scored in double figures Thursday. McKoy had 13, while Olson scored 12 and Bailey and Williams added 11 points each.
Maxwell ended with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
“It was the perfect first game. Everybody scored and we lost nothing from our subs. We still have stuff to work on, but I was happy with the effort for sure,” Coach Olson said. “We threw some different looks at them and I am sure it felt like there was a million guys on the floor. I just just love how we play with a purpose. You have to have a purpose. They play defense because that is the way you win basketball games.”
WC: 6 9 7 8 – 30
SS: 22 18 21 19 – 80
Victor Okojie 9, Adame Ouertani 1, Sackey Sefa 13, Fedor Portnoi 3, Nakitia Bolshov 5. Totals: 13 2-6 30
Jalon Bailey 11, Jack Williams 11, Khi Olson 12, Ammar Maxwell 12, Gavin Davis 7, Brody Radford 8, Josiah McKoy 13, Braedy Johnston 3, Rob Lynch 3. Totals: 29 8-12 80
3-pointers – WC 3 (Okojie, Portnoi, Bolshov); SS 14 (Bailey 3, Williams 2, Olson 4, Radford 2, McKoy, Johnston, Lynch)