Titans find pace before Pacers

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After cold start they win in Indy

By Josh Cook

The Collins boys’ basketball team got off to a slow start, but after the opening 8 minutes,  made itself right at home on the floor of the Indiana Pacers.

The Titans, who trailed Mason County, 10-5, at the end of the first quarter Saturday afternoon, outscored the Royals, 54-31, during the remaining three periods on their way to a 59-41 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in a game that preceded one between the NBA’s Pacers and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Senior forward Ralphie Stone scored a game-high 19 points, and senior wing Lawson Page added 13 as Collins (12-2) won for the sixth time in its past seven games.

“I think they all really enjoyed their time there. They enjoyed the opportunity to play on that court, and beating Mason County made it that much more enjoyable,” Titans Coach Chris Gaither said. 

The beginning, though, wasn’t very satisfying for Collins, which hit just 2 of its 16 field-goal attempts in the first period.

“We couldn’t make a shot in the first quarter, and we were getting some point-blank layups,” Gaither said. “I think our kids were getting used to atmosphere of the arena.”

The Titans turned that momentum in the second quarter, when, led by nine points from Stone, they outscored Mason County, 16-11 to tie the score at 21 at intermission.

Collins dominated the second half, outscoring the Royals, 38-20, including in the fourth quarter, 19-6.

“After the first quarter we kind of settled into the game and played well offensively and defensively,” Gaither said. “Our defense was pretty good. We did a good job of digging down on their big kids. And we did a good job in the second half of not giving up any second-chance points.”  

Gaither was especially pleased with the job the Titans did defensively on Mason County big man Shawn Johnson, a 6-foot-7 inside player who came in averaging 15.3 points but finished with 10 and only four in the second half.

“A big key for that was our guards,” said Gaither, who used several players (including Stone, Caleb Vogel and Mark Sorrells) on Johnson. “They did a good job of making the post [entry] pass hard. And then when they did get the pass through, our guards did a good job of doubling down.”

Collins’ guards also carried the offensive load in the third period, accounting for 17 points. Junior Deion Cochran scored seven, Page six and junior point guard Brent Kidwell five. Cochran’s point total was highlighted by a 4-point play, when he converted a free throw after being fouled while making a 3-point shot. Cochran finished with nine points, all in the second half. Page, meanwhile, tallied 10 after intermission.

“Lawson struggled in the first half, but he came through in the second half,” Gaither said. 

In the fourth quarter, Stone scored eight points, hitting two field goals and all four of his free-throw attempts for the Titans, who finished the game 15 of 17 from the foul line.

Collins held the Royals (9-2) to a pair of 3-pointers in the final frame.

“The games we’ve won by double figures we’ve dominated on the defensive end,” Gaither said. “That’s how we’re going to win game this year, is dominate on the defensive side.”

Kidwell added seven points and senior Paul Miller six.

The Titans sold 425 tickets for the event.

“It was a great outpouring of support from our community, and our kids loved it,” Gaither said. “It was a great atmosphere, and everyone was thankful for that opportunity. Overall it was a great experience.”

After the Titans’ triumph, the Pacers beat the Pelicans, 99-82, Saturday night. Former University of Kentucky standout Anthony Davis tallied 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Pelicans. Meanwhile Davis’ former UK teammate and Mason County alum Darius Miller went scoreless in 9 minutes of action as the Pacers improved to 16-1 at home.

The game against Mason County was supposed to be the Titans’ second in as many days, but Friday night’s scheduled 30th District game against Anderson County was postponed because the Bearcats couldn’t find transportation to Shelbyville. It has been rescheduled for Tuesday.

Collins will play at North Oldham at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a makeup game before playing at district-rival Spencer County at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night in Taylorsville.