Whether it was from the field or from the free-throw line, shots simply weren’t falling for the Veritas Christian boys basketball team on Tuesday against Manhattan CHIEF at the Lawrence Community Building.
Despite the Eagles’ shooting woes, Veritas was able to erase a seven-point deficit in the final minute of the second quarter with some stifling defense to tie the game up going into halftime. The Eagles kept up the defensive intensity in the second half, and forced 37 total turnovers en route to a 67-52 win in their first game of 2018.
“It’s a lot of fun because we had 14 steals and (forced) 19 turnovers by halftime. When you see those kind of numbers, that’s really good for our team,” Veritas junior Kammal Dowdell said. “That means our defense is picking up and it will translate to offense. That’s what we needed. This crowd was getting into it and I love when that happens.”
That proved to be the case for Dowdell, who scored 12 of his game-high 19 points in the second half. Junior Quinton Donohoe joined Dowdell in double figures with 14 points. Donohoe knocked down a 3-pointer to begin the second half, which gave the Eagles a 33-30 lead and first edge since 6-4 in the opening minutes. Dowdell drained the Eagles’ only other 3-pointer to put them up 36-35, and it marked the beginning of a 17-0 run that spanned most of the third quarter.
Dowdell also had three transition layups that came off of steals during the third-quarter run and dished out an assist to set up an easy bucket for Kyle Weinhold. The Eagles were getting a lot of opportunities in transition in the first half as well, but weren’t able to capitalize as regularly due to missed free throws and not passing the rock for looks at easier shots.
“What I told them is to come out as a team because I thought the first half offensively we were very selfish. So I said, ‘Come out and play together. Be happy to make that extra pass,’” Veritas coach Carl Huslig said. “We got a little bit more efficient in our offense by making an extra pass to the open guy. The guy might have had a wide-open shot, but he made an extra pass to the guy who had a better shot. That got us going.
“In the first half, we were forcing turnovers, but we were still selfish. We weren’t sharing the ball. We preach, ‘Be happy for your teammates.’ It’s more important for them to score than you.”
While the Eagles were fired up about their defensive effort, they were far from happy about shooting 9-for-28 from the free-throw line. Dowdell said that will have to change if the Eagles are going to do some damage going forward.
“That helps a lot getting those easy layups when we’re not hitting our free throws, but going into state and the playoffs, we’re going to need to hit more free throws,” Dowdell said. “That’s something we can work on in practice. I’m glad we didn’t have to shoot many free throws (in the second half) because we got a lot of steals that resulted in layups.”
With only having two practices last week, Huslig wasn’t surprised to see the Eagles struggle a little bit on the offensive end, but still expected a better shooting night from his team.
“We are way better shooters than 20 percent or whatever from the free-throw line,” Huslig said. “We got that one behind us and now we’re going to focus on Seabury.”
The Eagles (5-3) will take on their crosstown rival at 6 p.m. Friday at Haskell.
VERITAS CHRISTIAN (67)
Quinton Donohoe 6-10 1-1 14, Trey Huslig 2-9 3-8 7, Jackson Rau 0-0 0-3 0, Will Rau 3-6 1-3 7, Kammal Dowdell 8-14 2-3 19, Luke Campbell 0-0 0-0 0, Grant Schuck 1-9 1-3 3, Scott Weinhold 1-3 0-0 2, Rondre Diederich 0-0 0-0 0, Tucker Flory 4-8 1-7 9, Kyle Weinhold 3-4 0-0 6. Totals 28-63 9-28 67.
MANHATTAN CHIEF (52)
Patrick Schrader 4-7 5-10 13, Cody Mericle 5-6 2-4 12, Blaize Peterman 3-7 1-1 8, Seth Kraus 2-3 1-4 5, Jordyn Lowrance 0-0 0-0 0, Matthew Porter 0-0 0-0 0, Luke Casada 0-3 0-1 0, Noah Salts 4-5 1-3 9, Gage Amerin 0-0 0-0 0, Abram Mugler 1-6 0-0 2, Eli Kraus 0-4 0-2 0, Luke Mugler 0-0 0-0 0, Will Nauman 0-1 0-0 0, Jordyn Lowrance 0-0 0-0 0, Patrick White 0-3 3-6 3, Cody Schurle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-40 13-25 52.
Veritas Christian 13 17 25 12 — 67
Manhattan CHIEF 17 13 9 12 — 52
3-point goals: Veritas Christian 2-15 (Donohoe, Dowdell); Manhattan CHIEF 1-7 (Peterman). Fouled out: Tucker Flory, Veritas. Turnovers: Veritas Christian 19, Manhattan CHIEF 37.