TUSCOLA – Leading 25-15 at halftime against Graham on Tuesday, Jim Ned’s boys’ basketball team was in a good position to get its fifth win. The Indians dominated down low throughout the first two periods and ended on a 6-0 run, giving them momentum at the break.
Upon returning to the hardwood, all they needed to do to put the game away was up the intensity.
The Indians did just that.
Jim Ned instituted a full-court man defense in the second half to run away with a 55-31 win. The Indians are now 5-5 overall and have won four of their last six games.
“We pressured the ball a little bit more and let our defense fuel our offense a little bit,” head coach Blake Allen said. “Really just a minor adjustment that went a long way.”
Graham had trouble adjusting to the full-court man, particularly in the third quarter. The Steers scored just four points and made just one field goal. They maneuvered past it better in the fourth, but at that point, Jim Ned’s lead was too large.
For the Indians, it was a well-spread offensive effort — all 11 players scored. Carter Lange was the only Jim Ned player in double figures, scoring 10 points. Ben Eshelman and Bryce Smith both had nine points.
Graham’s Ben Williams had 10 points and was the Steers’ leading scorer.
The Indians were without some of their key players in the first couple of weeks, due to the football team’s run in the state playoffs. But after Jim Ned’s loss to Brock in football, players like Eshelman, Xavier Wishert and Nate Nunez joined the basketball team.
Now that those players are back on the hardwood, the Indians have become more cohesive.
“They’re getting their legs under them and getting their shooting touch back a little bit,” Allen said. “They’ve gotten better and better each day. They’re our hustle guys and make a lot happen on the court.”
The win was the Indians’ second of the season over Graham. They beat the Steers 63-35 just a few days prior on Dec 2. Jim Ned was supposed to play Cisco on Tuesday, but the Loboes had to cancel, due to their deep run in the 2A Division I football playoffs.
Though against a different opponent than originally anticipated, it was another opportunity for the Indians to grow before district play.
“At this point in the season, we’re just trying to work on ourselves,” Allen said. “We have a lot to learn and I’ve only had all of my guys for a full week. We’re not really worried about who we’re playing; we're just trying to work on our craft and xs and os, figure out lineups and things like that.”
Carson Field is the area sports reporter for the Abilene Reporter-News. He covers primarily Big Country high school sports. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com" target="_blank">digital subscription to reporternews.com.
Jim Ned 55, Graham 31
Graham ... 12 ... 3 ... 4 ... 12 — 31
Jim Ned ... 16 ... 9 ... 18 ... 12 — 55
GRAHAM — Ben Williams 10, Levi May 5, Tyson Weaver 4, Creed Jordan 4, Kolby Spurlin 2, Bryce Robertson 2.
JIM NED (5-5) — Carter Lange 10, Ben Eshelman 9, Bryce Smith 9, Kade Nix 6, Carter Wood 4, Xavier Wishert 4, Hank Ritter 4, Conner Epperson 3, Josh Luckenbach 2, Nate Nunez 2, Hunter Beasley 2.
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Jim Ned Indians beat Graham Steers at home