By SCOTT JACKSON
Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA — There were a few things Indian Hills head coach Barret Peery wanted to see his team improve on from opening weekend to the next.
Last weekend, IHCC allowed an average of 95 points a game to its two Jack Blackwell opponents. Last weekend, the Warriors drew a plethora of whistles on defense as 64 fouls were called on Indian Hills players over the first two wins of the season.
They cut down on their fouls, drawing just 22 on Friday night. They improved on the defensive end, allowing just 60 to visiting Mid-Michigan.
But when it comes to sharing the ball on offense, the Warriors don’t need much of a refresher course. Seven players scored in double figures for Indian Hills, a season-best, as IHCC routed the visiting Lakers for the second-straight year at the Reed Overhead Doors Classic.
Final score in game three of the 2013-14 IHCC basketball season: No. 2 Indian Hills 119, Mid-Michigan 60. It was yet another impressive early-season showing for a team that looks every bit like a national title contender.
“For me, it’s been so much better starting out this year,” returning sophomore Majok Deng after a 15-point, eight-rebound night against the Lakers. “We’re out there just having fun. We’ve got a great team, so it definitely makes it fun.”
Peery talked about the positive steps the Warriors took with game three of the brand new season Friday. The hard work in practice was evident early as a pair of 10-0 runs helped IHCC open a 20-9 lead midway through the first half.
“Our guys focus was pretty good. We did a good job defending,” Peery said. “I think the guys really moved their feet. Our percentages were all good on the defensive end. We did a good job rebounding the ball and didn’t allow a lot of second chances.”
Marcus Posley nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to spark the first 10-0 run for IHCC, which came after a pre-tip violation on the Warriors resulted in two technical free throws for Mid-Michigan’s Cody Johnson. Johnson hit both, giving the Lakers their one and only lead of the night.
Both of Posley’s open treys early came off great feeds from the post by Akolada Manyang, setting the tone for a great display of unselfish basketball by the Warriors in the first half. IHCC shot 61 percent from the field, 23 out of 38, and had 18 assists with 11 different players scoring as the Warriors put 60 points on the board heading into halftime.
“Everybody plays hard and everybody played well,” freshman Jordan Washington said after scoring seven points in each half to finish with 14 total on the night. “It’s like Coach Peery always says. If you play hard, you’ll find your place on the court.”
“To have seven guys in double figures shows we’re sharing the basketball,” Peery added. “We’re right where we want to be.”
And Indian Hills (3-0) kept right on sharing the wealth in the second half. An 11-0 run out of the locker room expanded the Warrior lead to 71-33. Players like J.R. Harris started to get more into the mix with Harris scoring 13 of his 15 points after halftime.
“Everybody plays hard and everybody played well,” Harris said. “Playing defense and running back on defense and running out after we created plays also helped us out.”
“It’s already like we’ve been together for a whole year and we’ve only been together for a few months,” Deng added. “It’s pretty impressive. We all working together on and off the court. It’s made it so much easier to come together as a team.”
Roosevelt Scott and Posley each led IHCC with 17 points, equaling Mid-Michigan’s leading scorer Trevor Gernaat. The Lakers (0-3) will take on the Warriors’ Region XI rival Marshalltown today at 4:30 p.m. The Tigers fell to 1-1 with a 104-79 loss to No. 13 College of Southern Idaho in the Reed Overhead Doors Classic opener.
CSI, now 3-0 as well, will battle IHCC tonight in a battle of top-15 squads with national tournament hopes. Just four games into the year, the Hellyer Center should have a national tournament feel to it tonight at 7 p.m.
“I’m excited to play. Everyone’s excited to play this game,” Washington said. “We’re going to win this game.”
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