By Nathan Hutchinson
Special to the Register
The Patriots’ press really wasn’t having much of an affect on McCreary Central in the first half Tuesday in Richmond.
So, just before the half, Model coach Wes Scarberry switched to back to a man-to-man defense.
“I think that change sparked something in us,” Scarberry said. “A.J. (Hammons) really led that charge and had some steals and finishes on the other end. Anytime we can get deflections and steals that lead to transition scores, that’s good for us.”
Hammons got hot late in the opening half and sparked a run that all but sealed a win before halftime. The senior scored nine points in the closing seconds of the second quarter and Model (5-1) went on to roll past the Raiders, 82-44. Hammons finished with 28 points and five steals, while Zach Rice-Gordon had 15 points and six rebounds and Jon Ballard and Brendan Hill had 12 points each.
Model only trailed once, 2-0, but really wasn’t able to pull away from the Raiders (1-4) until that decisive run. The Patriots were up 18-12 after the first quarter and McCreary Central got back within six points in the second quarter.
Then Hammons took over.
The senior hit a three-pointer, then on back-to-back possessions came up with steals and went in for uncontested layups.
Another layup by Hammons seconds later gave Model a 39-24.
Then just before the buzzer, Hill hit a three-pointer that stretched the Patriot lead to 18 points.
“Any night we have six guys who can lead us in scoring,” Scarberry said. “A.J. stood out tonight. I’m happy for him. He’s a four-year starter. I tell the guys, anytime we can have four guys in double figures, its almost impossible to beat us.”
Hammons had 20 points in the first half, including three three pointers. Rice-Gordon had nine points in the first half.
Ballard had 10 of his 12 points in the second half as Model kept pulling away.
Anthony Gerald had eight points and six assists, Jesse Middleton had four points and Jared Adams had three points.
The Patriots suffered their first loss of the season Friday against Dunbar, but have bounced back with two straight solid wins.
“We are playing with a lot of confidence,” Scarberry said. “I thought we played well against Dunbar. We made too many mistakes. We missed some free throws. We came back Saturday and played well and at home we play with a lot of confidence.”
Model is set to return at action Saturday at home against Rose Hill Christian.