Kendall Pollard (No. 25) is cheered on by Trevor Thompson (No. 32) as he stamps the Red Scare’s place in the Round of 32 on TBT’s bracket after hitting the game-ending shot. Photo courtesy of Ben Solomon, TBT.
With a variety of scoring, the Red Scare opened up their quest to win The Basketball Tournament with a comfortable 88-44 win over Armenian team BC Vahakni City on Saturday at the Covelli Centre in Columbus, Ohio.
Both teams remained even early, but led by Trevor Thompson, Red Scare pushed ahead on a 12-2 run punctuated by a steal and Thompson dunk to jump out to a 16-7 lead. BC Vahakni City called timeout with 3:53 left in the first quarter, Thompson leading the Flyers with 10 points and Jordan Sibert adding 6 more on a pair of 3-pointers.
Sibert said his 3-point shooting Saturday (finished 5/9) was “absolutely” helped by his performance in the 33-point contest, which he will be competing in on Aug. 1 at UD Arena between the two semifinal games after advancing past the opening round in Columbus.
“Me and coach (Joey Gruden) were just talking about that,” Sibert said. “Just getting a feel for the ball in the rim, it was definitely good.”
Sibert knocked down two more 3-pointers, and Ryan Mikesell came in and contributed 4 points off the bench to push the Red Scare lead to 27-14 at the end of the first quarter. Thompson and Sibert combined for 22 points and 7 rebounds in the opening nine minutes.
In the second quarter, Red Scare continued to widen the gap, punctuated by two exciting plays midway through the quarter. First,Trey Landers got the steal, CJ Walker spun around a defender, and threw the lob to Thompson to push the Red Scare lead to 40-16 with 4:36 left in the second quarter.
Then, after another BCVC turnover (their fifth), Walker faked a behind-the-back pass, mixing up the defender and setting up a lay-up that sent the fans from Dayton into a frenzy with 2:50 left in the quarter and Red Scare pushing their lead to 42-18.
At the break, Red Scare led 44-21, with Thompson and Sibert combining for 26 points and 10 rebounds, but Red Scare had contributions from everywhere, as 8 of 10 players had scored by halftime.
Gruden said his message at halftime was to “not look at the score” after the first half closed with the players being a “little selfish.”
“But I told them, just play,” Gruden said. “Because we have to figure out our kinks too, since it’s our first time playing together… So just play the way we know how to play and the right way, and good things will happen, which they did.”
Sibert added “tomorrow’s not promised,” and emphasized the importance of “giving your all.”
“It doesn’t matter what the score is,” Sibert said. “You gotta stay until that Elam Ending is over, and you gotta stay locked in.
By the end of the third quarter, all 10 Red Scare players had scored, and the scoring in the quarter was finished when Walker intercepted a pass, threw an outlet pass to Spearman, who dunked the ball to push the Red Scare lead to 67-38.
After 4 early points from BC Vahakni City, the Red Scare went on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 79-42. At the 4-minute mark, head coach/GM Joey Gruden called a timeout to begin the Elam Ending. With the target score set to 87, the Armenian team would need to score 45 points before the Red Scare scored 8.
The Red Scare left little doubt, finishing the game and sending the fans into a resounding roar on a long jumper from Kendall Pollard to finish an 88-44 win on a 17-2 run.
Thompson finished with 20 points, and Sibert added 17, along with 13 rebounds between the two of them.
After the game, Landers said it was important to have guys like Sibert hit their shots.
“I think just us staying together (helped us win),” Landers said. “Joey and (co-head coach Jeremiah) Bonsu really preached to us not getting away from ourselves. Stay doing what we do, whether we face adversity or not, so I think that was the biggest thing for us. And we’ve got a lot of voices in that huddle… all these guys just keeping us in tact, which is really good for us and staying together and obviously overcoming to get the win.”
Red Scare will face Category 5 (Miami, Florida alumni) Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Covelli Centre for a chance to advance to the Round of 16.