CENTERBURG, Ohio -- Catching my first KMAC acton of the year, I bore witness to solid games from a variety of players and an overall great matchup between two of the leagues more under the radar teams.
After a quick start and slight halftime lead for Mount Gilead sparked by the shooting of sophomore Jackson Huffer, the strength of the Centerburg frontcourt proved too much to handle, leading to the Trojans taking complete control down the stretch and pulling out a decisive 60-48 home win.
The game started off incredibly hot on both ends for Mount Gilead with the sophomore Huffer scoring a handful of easy transition lay-ins as a result of stingy defense by the Indians. Huffer also dropped in a deep Curry-esque three on his way to a quick 11 points, leading to a 15-6 edge at the end of the first for Mount Gilead.
Centerburg flipped the script on the visiting Indians in the second quarter led by sophomore Carter Jones, who led the fastbreak from his point-forward spot on his way to five points in the second quarter all on free throws. The Trojans cut into the Mount Gilead lead and cut it to a one possession game at one point, but the inside presence of junior Nate Rogers and senior leader Mason Mollohan was too much for them to gain any momentum and the Indians kept a 23-19 lead going into the half.
The second half started with a bang for Centerburg, as a quick 11-4 run capped off by a Carter Jones three led to a 30-27 edge less than three minutes into the third quarter. The Trojans kept the pressure on on the offensive end, with Jones and junior Hayden Hankinson both chipping in nine third quarter points en route to a 45-38 lead going into the final period.
The Trojans continued their late-game run in the fourth under the lead of freshman point guard Mick Mead, who handled the ball well against the desperation pressure of Mount Gilead and had a crafty move to the basket for an and-one, essentially sealing the game. Centerburg pulled ahead by double digits shortly into the quarter and never let up and ended up winning 60-48 after some late-game free throws.
Mount Gilead’s usual leader, senior Mason Mollohan, was in foul trouble for most of the game, leading to the Trojans gaining an edge inside. The Indians were led by the sophomore Huffer, who had 21 points and three rebounds; he was the only Mount Gilead player in double digits. Rogers had eights points, four rebounds, and two assists, and Mollohan also had eight points to go along with 10 rebounds.
Mount Gilead falls to 4-11 with the loss.
The huge second half led by Jones, Hankinson, and Mead gave the Indians revenge over visiting Mount Gilead, who beat them by two when they travelled there in December. The sophomore Jones finished with a double-double on 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Hankinson had 16 points as well as four boards. Freshmen Mick Mead and Delton Hall both had nine points, with Hall chipping in five rebounds.
Centerburg climbs to 11-6 on the year.
Carter Jones (6’3 PF / Centerburg / 2021): The lefty sophomore showed his diverse array of offensive skills on Tuesday, using his thick frame and smooth handles for his size to get into the lane and convert easy looks. Jones is able to work both on the inside on the perimeter due to his smooth stroke, one that he used both at the line and beyond-the-arc during the deciding stretch of the game. The young playmaker can and has been utilized as a point-forward, taking the ball up the floor and even going coast-to-coast off of defensive boards. An already-built sophomore with a lot room to grow and improve, Jones should be an important player for the Trojans for years to come and an intriguing prospect in the class of 2021.
Jackson Huffer (5’11 CG / Mount Gilead / 2021): Huffer took control of the game offensively for Mount Gilead right off the bat, and while he had a scoring lull in the middle of the game, finished hard on both ends and proved that the developing sophomore has the confidence and grit to hang even when his team is down. The guard,a lefty, is a natural finisher in transition and has a smooth shooting stroke from 10 feet and out, and is equally confident pulling up for a jumper off the dribble from the foul-line extended as he is taking one from well past the arc. Huffer kept the pressure on Centerburg on the defensive end and finished steals on the opposite end for scores, and showed the ability throughout the game to create his own shot. Look for the sophomore to continue taking and making shots for his Mount Gilead squad and become a leader in the back court for his squad.
Hayden Hankinson (6’3 PF / Centerburg / 2020): The junior was the emotional leader for Centerburg all night and had multiple impressive finishes through contact that were a part of his team’s building of the lead down the stretch. Hankinson has the ability to take the ball to the rim off the dribble from the elbow or in a more traditional back to the basket style, and he has pretty much mastered the up and under shot fake move around the rim, which led to easy looks and fouls all night. The big man used his body well against the Mount Gilead to gain position and will look to continue to do so against KMAC competition as the season goes forward.
Mick Mead (5’9 PG / Centerburg / 2022): The small but mighty Mead handled much of the ball handling duties for the Trojans and showed a kind of steady hand in the closing minutes of the game that is needed from a lead guard. The freshman starter found his teammates for open looks throughout the game and took control against the Mount Gilead pressure down the stretch, and had a crafty hesitation move that led to an and-one late in the game. Look for the freshman to be the lead guard for Centerburg for years to come.