Coach Bullock told me after their first game of the season last week, that his team would only get better. They did exactly that in a 70-56 victory over Saints of the Bottle. First Class got great performances from R.J. (25 points) and Marquis(1o points), those two were able to lead their team to victory over a talented bunch in the Saints. Tony Durant was fresh off a 36 point game in his last outing in the league, the addition of one of the area’s most dangerous shooters in Corey Allmond. It took a masterful gameplan to keep those guys under wraps, yet Bullocks team executed the plan brilliantly.
The game started for Durant (20 points) how the last game ended for him, he was on fire as he scored his team’s first nine points. Unfortunately for the Saints, First Class had gotten off to a better start.
They were moving the ball as a team, keeping everyone involved and really getting after it on the defensive end. Doug (8 points) played a big role for First Class in the first half, moving the ball and keeping the defense honest. Rarely making a bad decision whenever he was in possession, the game slowed down a bit midway through the first half as it was tied at 19. Then First Class would go on a mini-run to finish the period with a 10 point lead, 37-27 at the break.
Corey (16 points) got going a bit to start the second half and that’s when the defensive coverages started to change. The Saints never really adjusted to it, much of it due to the fact they didn’t have a natural point guard on their roster. Twin was the closest thing to it, but he didn’t play big minutes in the contest. With Corey and Tony bringing the ball up more than not, especially in Corey’s case, it was easier to trap and throw bodies at him.
Coach Bullock made a great call as he decided to run several traps at Corey once he crossed half court. That caused him to get the ball out of his hands and First Class clearly had the mindset that if they got beat it would be anybody on the Saints but Corey. The rest of the Saints never really got on track, they got open shots, but the long ball wasn’t really falling. It was truly a case of “living by the three or dying from it” as every attempt just seemed to carom off the rim.
The Saints found themselves down double digits at one point during the second half, but were able to make a run that cut the deficit to just nine points. Again, Coach Bullock showing his feel for the game as he re-inserted R.J. and Marquis. While they were out, Brandon (15 points), Doug, and Clint (11 points) did a great job of scoring enough points to not relinquish the lead.
Upon re-entering the game, R.J. picked up where he left off. Attacking. He immediately put the ball on the floor and attacked the basket, drawing a foul and getting to the line. Corey realized the change in defensive coverages and didn’t force it, he did the right thing by moving the ball. Still, he seemed to sense where the game was going and adjusted in spots. On a turnover, Corey took a couple steps past halfcourt and drilled a PUJIT( pull up jumper in transition) from beyond the arc. That would cut the First Class lead to five, but R.J. responded immediately with another basket in transition. First Class got the stop on the ensuing position, than R. J. would hit a triple from the corner to push the lead back to 11.
Dale (13 points) responded for the Saints with a big and-1 drive, now the Saints trail 62-54 with just under three minutes left in the game. First Class relied on it’s defense to finish out the game. An ill-advised cross-court pass lead to an emphatic one-handed dunk from R.J. First Class continued to play good defense and were rewarded with a 70-56 victory.
Going forward, they will be a team to be reckoned with. They play very good defense, very patient offensive teams and share the ball very well. While R.J. and Brandon led the team in scoring, several other players were in or very close to double-figures in that department. Their ability to lock down in the halfcourt and generate easy transition scores will only help them going forward.
As for the Saints, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. It was a tough loss to a good team, they may want to alter their starting five a bit just to get a distributor on the floor to make things easier on the offensive end. Having a distributor will limit the amount of time that Corey and Tony spend bringing the ball up the court (making it harder to be trapped) and allow them to put stress on the defense from different angles.