Posted: Jan 27, 2011 at 2:14 PM [Jan 27, 2011]
The crowd began chanting in the middle of a Huron possession. Huron had just taken what was the biggest lead of the game at that point when AJ Mathew made a 3-pointer to put Huron up 37-29.
The crowd chanted, “A-J Math-EW. A.J. Mathew.”
Huron had started to extend their lead until they were leading by 20 points, 49-29, at the end of the third quarter after only being up by three at the half. Huron outscored Pioneer 22-5 in the third quarter to take a lead it wouldn’t give up. Huron would stretch its lead to 52-29 and eventually won 60-44.
“We were level headed in the first half,” said Mathew who had nine points on the night. “Once we picked it up defensively, our confidence just went up because we know that’s how we play every game.”
“I felt pretty good about how we played tonight,” said Huron coach Waleed Samaha. “We did a better job keeping them off the offensive glass in the third quarter which is where they were hurting us in the first half.”
Once Pioneer fell behind, the team began rushing shots a lot more often and relying on its star player, James Kelly, for all of its scoring. Kelly did his part, with all of Pioneer’s points in the third quarter, but he needed help. Pioneer (7-2, 4-1 SEC) was relying too much on him while Huron had a balanced attack.
“I thought more our problem in the third quarter was our defense,” said Pioneer coach Rex Stanczak. “(Huron’s outside shooting during the third quarter) was a by-product of us missing some rotations and one of the things that we want to do, kind of our mantra is, tough twos. We don’t want to give up threes.”
Huron (8-1, 4-0 SEC) made four 3-pointers on the night, including the one by Mathew which had the home crowd chanting his name in the third quarter. Matt Hastings had two 3-pointers and Dante Williams had one. Williams was the game’s leading scorer with 14 points.
At Huron’s basketball arena there were more Huron fans than there were Pioneer fans. Emotionally, when Huron began hitting so many shots, the Pioneer fans began to quiet down.
"Next time, we're gonna take it personal,” said Pioneer senior Anthony Hugan, who finished with six points. “Because if we would've kept doing what we did in the first half, we would've won."
Jeremiah Strode led Pioneer with 10 points, Kelly finished second with nine.
The next time the teams play, they’ll be at Pioneer. The rematch is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 25.
Austin Shepherd, 10, is a fifth grader at Angell Elementary School.