By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
More than a week into the season, the Patriots still hadn’t had a chance to get onto the court.
But, when they finally did, they were definitely ready to play.
Model jumped out to a 19-2 first-quarter lead and rolled to a 76-53 win Tuesday in Richmond over Burgin. Sophomore guard Ephriam Otieno had a team-best 25 points and senior Zack Rice-Gordon had 14 points for the Patriots.
“The (kids) were very disappointed on Friday when our game got canceled,” Model coach Wes Scarberry said. “They were ready to play. We don’t have football, so we get all of our kids on Oct. 15. They were really anxious to get out there and play somebody.”
The Patriots’ regular-season opener against Sayre last Friday was canceled because of winter weather.
So, while most of their district opponents had already played at least three games, Model was still looking for its first varsity action of the year.
In the first quarter against Burgin, the Patriots looked sharp. Alex Chen had two putbacks and Otieno had a pair of baskets. After the game was tied at 2-2, Model scored 17-straight points to close the period.
“A lot of that (early success) we can attribute to our press,” Scarberry said. “It’s the press we’ve run the past three years. A lot of those guys are familiar with it. That really sparked that run in the first quarter.”
Despite graduating six seniors from last year’s team, the Patriots showcased some depth and some younger talent.
Otieno had 13 points in the first half as Model took a 34-21 lead into halftime. For the game, the sophomore hit 11-of-12 field goals, including 3-of-3 from three-point range, and also had two assists, eight steals and three rebounds.
“Ephriam is a tremendous talent,” Scarberry said. “He’s a tremendous talent. He’s got the potential to be a 1,000-point scorer. He’s extremely athletic and he dedicated his entire offseason to basketball.”
Model got into some foul trouble in the third quarter, allowing Burgin to get back in the game. The Bulldogs got within 10 points (42-32), but Otieno and Levi Agee came up with steals that led to layups and Rice-Gordon added a basket that but the Patriots by 14 points.
Rice-Gordon, Model’s only returning starter from last season, was 5-of-12 from the field with eight rebounds and one assist.
“It was a good start for him,” Scarberry said of Rice-Gordon. “I thought he played the boards really well tonight. That’s what we’ve really focused on with him.”
Model shot just better than 50 percent from the field (26-of-47 from two-point range, 5-of-13 from three-point range), had 12 assists and 19 steals.
Chen had 12 points, Jared Adams had nine points, Caleb Kincaid had seven points, Keith Mason had four points, James Logue had three points and Levi Agee had two points.
The Patriots are set to return to action Friday at home against Beechwood.