TWIN FALLS, ID — It was a beautiful Thanksgiving Day away from home for the Indian Hills basketball team. The fourth-ranked Warriors enjoyed a team dinner and some of the great scenery of Southern Idaho on Thursday.
“They got a chance to see a new part of the country they’ve never seen before,” head coach Barret Peery said. “They might have had some of those stars in their eyes at the start of (Friday’s) game.”
A not-so beautiful start to their day after Thanksgiving battle with Treasure Valley was erased quickly and soon forgotten about thanks to a second-half offensive explosion by the fourth-ranked Warriors. IHCC overcame a slow start that allowed the Chukars to open the game with a 9-1 lead and used a 74-point second half to roll away from their Oregon opponents for a 115-65 win in the Boise Office Equipment Invitational Friday afternoon at the College of Southern Idaho.
“I didn’t like us too much in the first half,” Peery said following the Warriors’ 50-point victory. “We had to wake up after sleep-walking and we did that in the second half.”
The main catalyst for the surge of points for Indian Hills was sophomore transfer Ronald Ross. The former Vincennes star had his biggest day in Warrior maroon and gold, leading all scorers with 25 points including a sharp 7-9 shooting effort from beyond the 3-point arc.
Ross’ hot hand was never more evident than midway through the second half. The Indianapolis native buried three straight 3-pointers in a second half run during a run in which Ross scored 13 points in a row by himself while putting the Warriors over the century mark for the fifth time this year as IHCC opened a 107-58 lead.
“We need Ronald to make those shots all the time,” Peery said. “He had a lot of great looks his teammates got him and he took advantage.”
It took a while for Ross and the Warriors to get things rolling as Treasure Valley struck quickly behind sophomore Christopher Willis. The Oxnard, California native stepped in front of two-straight IHCC passes and converted steals into layups in the opening two minutes as the Chukars opened an early eight-point lead and forced Peery to call a very early timeout.
“Being a 3:30 game without a lot of people in the seats, you might expect something of a sluggish start,” Peery said. “There’s also an adjustment period that you need to have to get used to a new opponent.”
IHCC responded quickly, scoring nine-straight points to grab their first lead of the night. The Warriors couldn’t shake Treasure Valley completely, however, as the Chukars battled back and forced seven lead changes through the first 10 minutes of the game.
Six-straight points helped the Warriors finally gain control as IHCC began to make things tougher on the defensive end for Treasure Valley. Indian Hills held the Chukars without a field goal for six minutes during a 15-3 run that helped the Warriors take a 43-34 lead into the half.
“I’d have been really worried if we didn’t respond after the start of the game and after an average first half,” Peery said. “I thought we fought hard to get the halftime lead, then we looked in the mirror at ourselves and got after it in the second half.”
IHCC made sure there would be no late-game drama on Friday right away in the second half. Consecutive lay-ups by Richard Amardi and Frank Williams followed by a slam dunk by Amardi kicked off the74-point second half highlighted by several easy baskets and more long range bombs by Ross.
And after outscoring Salt Lake 57-29 in bench points to earn a double-overtime win on Tuesday, the Warriors depth proved to be too much once against for their opponents. A dozen different players scored for Indian Hills including five players in double figures.
“We really started to wear them down and had guys coming in that kept wearing them out off the bench,” Peery said. “I think we only gave up four or five offensive rebounds and we got out in the open floor a lot more in the second half. We defended much better in the second half.”
The final game of the week-long three-game road trip comes tonight at 8:30 p.m. as Peery faces his former team for the second time as head coach of the Warriors. No. 4 IHCC (7-0) faces the College of Southern Idaho (5-2) in a rematch of last year’s 92-82 win by Indian Hills in the consolation round of last year’s NJCAA Men’s National Basketball Tournament.
Peery fully expects the Golden Eagles’ ‘blackout’ atmosphere to rival an March atmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas. It’s an atmosphere Peery will experience for the first time as an opposing head coach.
“I had a lot of great days at this place and it will be really different (tonight),” Peery said. “I’ve been told it’s going to be hot and nasty in there tonight. We made it uncomfortable when I was here as the head coach. I expect it to be the same for them and really uncomfortable for us (tonight).”
“I’ve made no secret about it. We want to keep challenging ourselves to see how good we can be so we can be at our best when it counts in March.”
No. 4 INDIAN HILLS 117, TREASURE VALLEY 67
IHCC (115) — Ronald Ross 25, Jameel McKay 18, Dustin Hogue 15, Trinson White 11, Justin Moss 10, Ronnie Stevens 9, Richard Amardi 8, Martin Dixon-Green 7, Jelan Kendrick 6, Frank Williams 5, Gary Ross 2, Majok Deng 1. Totals 45-86 15-23 115.
3-point goals — 6-22 (R. Ross 7-9). Rebounds — 51 (Moss 10). Assists — 23 (Kendrick 6). Steals — 21 (G. Ross 5). Blocks — 7 (McKay 3). Total fouls — 23. Turnovers — 21.
TVCC (67) — Christopher Willis 16, De’Sean Mattox 14, Marck Coffin 11, John Fletcher 11, James Livingston 8, James Johnson 4, Alex Campbell 2, Skylar Burgess 1. Totals 25-59 11-21 64.
3-point goals — 6-22 (Fletcher 2-4, Mattox 2-6, Livingston 2-8). Fouled out — Burgess. Rebounds — 35 (Burgess 7, Willis 7). Assists — 12 (Mattox 4). Steals — 12 (Willis 4). Blocks — 1 (Drew McKie). Total fouls — 20 (Technicals - Fletcher). Turnovers — 37.
Half: Indian Hills 43, Treasure Valley 34