GREENTOWN — Western’s boys basketball team has relied heavily on a zone defense early in the season to help combat the post and rebounding challenges that come with a guard-laden roster.
Friday night, the Panthers showed they’re pretty strong in a man-to-man defensive setting, as well.
Western overwhelmed Eastern from the outset, combining hounding man-to-man pressure with sound shooting in a 79-40 rout of the Comets in a Mid-Indiana Conference clash between county rivals.
The Panthers (3-1, 2-0 MIC) grabbed six steals in the first quarter, and turned almost all of Eastern’s eight turnovers into points, hitting at nearly a 60-percent clip from the field (10 for 17) in the first eight minutes on their way to a 24-4 advantage by the first stop.
When the Comets were able to get shots off, they came on contested looks, hitting on just 2 of 9 from the floor in the same span.
“We wanted to come out get off to a fast start [Friday] night, and we did that,” Western coach Bart Miller said. “The whole key was on the defensive end. We were able to limit their shots with good man-to-man pressure. It was the first time this season where we made man-to-man our primary defense for the whole game. I thought the guys executed well, especially against Eastern and their five-out cuts. We did a nice job of being in position and taking away their cuts with the help side [defense]. It was a good team victory. Defense keyed it, and a good night shooting always helps, too.”
Austin Weaver led the offensive charge for Western, firing in a career-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. He scored 12 points in the first quarter, and buried a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter to help the Panthers build a 45-21 lead by halftime.