SHARPSVILLE — They came ready to play with one thought in mind: Shut ‘em down, make their offense mission impossible.
To say Tri-Central’s boys basketball team was successful in throttling Hoosier Heartland Conference rival Carroll here Monday night was a total understatement. The Trojans set their sights on the Cougars’ big inside force, 6-foot-5 Jarin Bush, 6-5 Brandon Dillon and 6-3 Seth Eldridge, and it paid off in a convincing 46-31 victory.
The win upped the TC overall record to 6-8 and its HHC record to 3-1. Carroll dropped to 6-9 and 1-2.
The Trojans went at the Cougars in a very busy 2-3 zone, and the best the visitors could do was can 12 baskets in 42 attempts (.286) which included quarters of 4 of 12, 1 of 8, 4 of 11 and 3 of 10. Conversely, the Trojans got offensive help from all seven performers in chalking up periods of 5 of 12, 6 of 13, 3 of 8 and 6 of 11.
A pleased TC coach Kyle Zahn remarked afterward: “Carroll had a decided size advantage on us, so we wanted to take its inside game away and put pressure on the outside. Carroll came in the best 3-point shooting team in the area, so we wanted to take their shooters off rhythm, and I think our guys did a good job of that.”
Zahn noted TC’s Seth Blunck “had the best game of his career” with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“He was all over the court and had his hands in everything and just had an overall outstanding game. But we also got good production from our bench,” pointing to the nine points of Colten Leininger and the eight points and six rebounds of Bryce Dowell.
“Holding Bush, Dillon and Eldridge to 24 points was great, but getting out on their outside shooters was the key. Another big thing is we outrebounded them [28-17],” he finished.
TC got off to a 5-0 lead, but Carroll went on a 9-0 run thanks to Dillon and Bush. But from that point on the Trojans put the squeeze on the Cougar offensive. The Trojans got big 3-pointers from Garrett Dick and Leininger to take a slim 13-11 lead at the first stop, but the game went the Trojans’ way in a hurry.