By MARK SALUKE
---- — BUNKER HILL — In its home opener Friday night, the Maconaquah boys basketball team didn’t disappoint, downing North Miami 55-29 to even the Braves record at 1-1 on the season.
K.J. Walton notched a double-double, leading Mac with 15 points on 64 percent shooting (7 of 11) and pulling down a team best 10 rebounds. The senior also blocked three shots on the night.
“He’s just an all-around good basketball player,” Braves coach Andy Steele said. “He’s well-conditioned, and there’s not a time I really need to bring him out, unless he’s in foul trouble.”
Walton put together a strong game from the opening tip to near the final buzzer. His hoop-and-harm just five seconds into the game got things rolling as he scored five of Mac’s first seven points on the way to a 15-9 lead at the first stop.
His breakaway dunk with 5:04 to play in the game put the Braves up 44-23 and Mac led by 20-plus points the rest of the way as the visiting Warriors managed just one field goal over the final eight minutes, shooting just 1 of 9 from the field.
“I think we were looking to be a little more aggressive defensively in the fourth quarter,” Steele said. “We took away a lot of their shots, which maybe led to them making a forced pass or too aggressive of a dribble and we were able to capitalize.”
North Miami (0-2) turned the ball over five or more times in each quarter, finishing with 23 turnovers in the game.
“We eventually got into the passing lanes like we were going over this week,” Steele said. “We came out at the start of the game a little too sluggish in my opinion. We made adjustments at halftime and came out, I thought, really aggressive and just kept them at a low scoring pace for them, a high scoring pace for us, and we were able to come away with a good win.”
Steele started five seniors Friday night, but it was a freshman who allowed the Braves to create some space in the early going. Wyatt Hughes came off the bench to score 10 points, all in the first half, while pulling down five rebounds before spending most of the second half watching the game after taking a hard hit in the first half.
“He’s a great kid, 6-foot-6 as a freshman and an athletic kid with room to grow,” Steele said. “He ended up with 10 points and a bloody nose [Friday] night.”
Hughes was 4 of 5 from the field in the first half, and his burst came at just the right time.
North Miami had just strung together a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 9-7, with 3:57 remaining in the first frame, when Hughes went to work.
Hughes tied the game at 9-all with a hoop and then followed with a pair of free throws to give a lead back to the Braves that they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.
Hughes then scored six straight points for Mac during a second-quarter stretch that gave the Braves their first double-digit lead on the way to a 29-17 halftime cushion.
Trevor Hagan added eight points and seven rebounds for Mac. In all, 10 of the 11 players who took the floor for Mac on Friday night found the scoring column.
Maconaquah shot 49 percent for the game (23 of 47) while the Braves defense held North Miami to a 10-of-39 (26 percent) performance from the field that included 0 of 11 from 3-point land.
This weekend, Maconaquah visits Wabash on Friday and hosts Oak Hill on Saturday. North Miami visits Pioneer on Saturday.
PERU FALLS IN 2 OTs Wabash topped Peru 70-63 in two overtimes Friday night at Tig-Arena. The Bengal Tigers dropped to 0-2 with the loss. Next up for Peru is a road game against Plymouth on Friday.