GLENVILLE, W.Va. — For Bridgeport’s offense to operate at the level coach Mike Robey desires it to, the Indians have to move the ball above all else.
“We tell them, ‘don’t let the ball get stuck,’” Robey said.
In the Indians’ season opener Wednesday against Tucker County, the only thing the ball was semmingly stuck to was the net as it continued to go through it. Bridgeport scored at least 24 points in all four quarters and assisted on 22 of 40 field goals to run away from the Mountain Lions 100-74 in the opening game of the IOGA Classic at the Waco Center on the campus of Glenville State College.
“If you score 100 points, you can’t complain a whole lot,” Robey said. “We moved the ball well and shared the ball really well. Our kids are very unselfish.”
The Tribe closed the first quarter on a 13-2 run over the final 2:35, getting six consecutive points from Jake Bowen and a 3-pointer by Nick Stalnaker in the closing seconds to hold a 24-15 lead entering the second period.
Leading 33-24 in the second, Stalnaker scored five straight points to up the advantage to 14.
Bridgeport was ahead by double figures the remainder of the way and the Indians got a conventional three-point play by Blake Bowers with 1:11 remaining in the half that helped them go into the break with a 48-33 lead.
Much of the Tribe’s offense came from its defense as Bridgeport forced 19 Tucker County turnovers in the first half, leading to numerous uncontested baskets from close range.
Bowers and Bowen each had 12 first-half points, while Stalnaker contributed 10 in a balanced scoring effort.
“Blake did a good job of making sure it didn’t get stuck,” Robey said. “He moved it and when he did put it on the floor, he was drawing and creating to get someone else open.”
Jeffrey Snyder poured in 16 of his game-high 26 points in the first two quarters to help keep the Mountain Lions (0-2) within striking distance, but the turnover differential was too much to overcome.
“We got a little tired and we’re probably a guard away right now from being a pretty decent basketball team,” Tucker County coach Jim Ambrose said.
Tanner Bifano carried the offensive load in the third quarter for the Indians, scoring 12 points, including six straight that gave the Indians their biggest lead of the game to that point at 59-40.
Austin Massey’s conventional three-point play sent BHS into the fourth quarter with a 76-55 lead and the Indians continued to execute at a high level.
“I saw some really good things and then we’d get a little tired and it’d be three of four turnovers in a row and I’m thinking I better get a timeout quick,” Ambrose said.
Bowers had a team-high 21 points in the win, while Bifano added 18 points and a team-best six rebounds. Bowen contributed 16 points, while Stalnaker scored 15 as the experienced quartet combined for 70 points in the win.
Snyder had eight boards to go with his 26 points, while Corrick Ambrose scored 21 points to go with eight assists in the loss. Cameron Wamsley added 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds in defeat.
Despite shooting nearly 54 percent (28-of-52) the Mountain Lions failed to seriously threaten the Indians due largely to their 27 turnovers.
Bowers had seven assists and fellow starting guard John Mazza added 10 points and five assists in the win. The starting backcourt also did not finish with a turnover in the victory as the Indians had only seven miscues, though they were out-rebounded 37-26.
“We obviously have a lot of work to do on the defensive end and we have to do a much, much better job on the glass,” Robey said. “I’m happy with the win and happy with the energy we played with, but it’s concerning the way we got out-rebounded today.”