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Titans get moving and run away

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Hot shooting, sharp passing down Bears

By Josh Cook

Leading 30th District rival Spencer County 26-15 at halftime Wednesday night, the Collins boys’ basketball team turned up the heat on defense and pushed the pace on offense in the third quarter.

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The result was the Titans outscoring the visiting Bears, 27-16, in the period on their way to a 69-48 victory.

“We were getting steals and getting out in transition,” Collins senior forward Dez Marshall said.

The Titans also were shooting lights-out.

“When we push the ball like that we can get some open shots,” said Collins Coach Chris Gaither, whose team shot a torrid 70.8 percent (17-for-24) in the second half, when he told the Titans to push the ball at every opportunity.

The Titans shot 58.3 percent (28-for-48) for the game.

Senior guard Buddy Johnson hit 7 of 10 shots, including five of eight from 3-point range, on his way to a team-high 19 points. Meanwhile junior forward Ralphie Stone was also 7-for-10 from the field and Marshall was 7-of-9. The two finished with 16 and 15 points, respectively.

Johnson opened the game with a 3-pointer, giving Collins (12-7, 2-1) a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The Titans led, 9-5,late in the first quarter before they reeled off 10 of the next 12 points. Brent Kidwell’s driving layup with 2 seconds left in the period began Collins’ surge. Marshall and Stone started the second quarter with back-to-back baskets, off assists from the other, before Chris Dunbar scored inside for Spencer County. Stone followed with a bank shot, off an in-bounds pass from Kidwell, then Johnson scored on a run-out off a feed from Marshall to put the Titans on top, 19-7, with 6:27 to play in the half.  

Collins forced 11 turnovers, converted those into 11 points and led by 11 at halftime.

The Titans’ lead was still 11 near the midway point of the third quarter before junior forward Zac Wiley – in his first game of the season – buried a 3-pointer from the corner to start an 11-3 surge by Collins.

Following a 3 by the Bears, Johnson hit his second 3-pointer before Stone scored inside off a feed from Kidwell. Johnson followed with a killer crossover for a layin, and Lawson Page hit one of two free throws for the Titans, who scored eight points in a span of 61 seconds.

 “The third-quarter defense…we’ve got to play a whole game of defense like that,” Gaither said. “We’ve got the talent and quickness to be a dominant defensive team. We just have to do it for four quarters.”  

Spencer County (10-11, 0-2) answered with back-to-back baskets before Johnson got free for consecutive 3-pointers.

“They just weren’t locating me at all, and Coach Gaither just told me, ‘Catch and shoot. Catch and shoot,’” Johnson said. “He told me that the whole game.”

After the Bears hit one free throw, Marshall closed out the third period with a layup off an in-bounds pass.

That was a common theme for the Titans, who had 23 assists on their 28 field goals.

“I thought we moved the ball well,” Gaither said.

Kidwell finished with nine assists against zero turnovers and Stone added six passes for points. 

“We were just executing,” said Marshall, who finished with five rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Collins has a tough weekend ahead. The Titans play at Bullitt East (18-4), which is ranked No. 1 in the state by BluegrassPreps.com and No. 3 in The Associated Press Top 10 poll, at 7:30 tonight. Then they play Henderson County (17-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday in the second game of the Tom Creamer Classic at Shelby County.