By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Model Laboratory Patriots overcame a slow start to blow out Berea Community 83-44 Friday in a district game.
The Pirates took the fight to the Patriots (12-3) early on, jumping out to a 15-6 lead with a minute and a half left in the first quarter.
During the early run, Berea (5-11) scored nine straight points on two baskets by Daniel Hubbard, a basket by Eli Woodie and a three by Nolan Sweet.
But after an early timeout by Model coach Wes Scarberry and the insertion of Jesse Middleton into the game, Model picked up the intensity and cranked up its defense.
Model scored six points in the final 45 seconds of the quarter on baskets by Zack Rice-Gordon and Middleton and a three-pointer by Brendon Hill to cut the deficit to 15-13 at the end of the first quarter.
The Patriots came out in the second quarter and completely manhandled the Pirates, outscoring them 28-10 to take a 41-25 lead into the locker room at the half.
Model increased its lead to 20 at 55-35 midway through the third quarter, despite the gutsy effort of Woodie, who had eight of Berea’s 10 points in the first four minutes, as Model quickly put the game out of reach.
“I told the guys going in we were going to get Berea’s best shot and they came out ready to play. Berea’s starting five is very good and they took it right to us,” Scarberry said. “Our guys were really geared up for the game. It’s a big district rival in front of a big crowd, but I knew once we got settled down and got our press going we would be OK.”
Three players scored in double figures for Model, led by Rice-Gordon with a game-high 21 points, while Jon Ballard added 20 and Hill with 12 points.
Middleton, who came off the bench to ignite the Patriot defense, finished with nine points, while A.J. Hammons added seven, Anthony Gerald had four, Jared Adams, Ephraim Otieno and Logan Jackson had three points each and Alex Chen had one point.
Woodie finished with a team-high 14 points for the Pirates, while Andy Allen added 10 points, Daniel Hubbard and Trey Terrill had six points each and Nolan Sweet and Neil Claytor had three points each, and Alexander Shyiem and Bradley Atkins had one point each.
Berea coach Cameron Jackson said he knew his team had a tough task ahead of it Friday.
“Model is a tough team and all those guys are offensively sound and when they get their press going it’s tough,” Jackson said. “We were getting the shots we wanted but we couldn’t make them, then they went on two or three runs and it all went bad at once.”
Although the game was a blowout, Jackson said he was pleased with the play of Woodie and Allen.
“Woodie is a senior and he understands what we want done on the offensive and defensive ends and he took it to them in the second half even though we were down,” Jackson said. “And Allen is just a gutsy player and he always plays smart and he always plays hard. They didn’t quit.”
The two teams will face each other again in a couple of weeks in the first game of the All “A” regional tournament at Sayre and Scarberry said his team wanted to send a message going into the game.
“Our focus obviously has been Madison Southern next week in another county rivalry game, and the week after that is the All “A” tournament and that has been a focus of our the last couple of years,” Scarberry said. “We play Berea again in the first game and we wanted to send a message tonight, quote, unquote, and let them know we are favorites going into that game, and whoever we play in the championship game, we’re just preparing for that right now.”