Indian River’s boy’s varsity basketball team showed just what they’re capable of against Laurel on Jan. 3 by defeating the Bulldogs 81-40. The Indians pressed them for nearly the whole game, creating more than 20 turnovers (24 total), which resulted in easy transition buckets. Three Indian River players scored double figures — but one almost scored a quadruple double.
Brian Bell scored a game-high 26 points but also brought in rebounds (9), assists (9) and steals (6). He nailed 80 percent of his first half shots (8-10 FG) for 17 points and very nearly outscored Laurel all by himself. Laurel trailed Indian River 50-23 at the half.
Bell had the best all-around day, but it was most definitely a team effort. Travis Irving scored a personal season-high 19 points and pulled down six boards, dished five assists and snagged three steals. Curtis Chandler had 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Indian River’s success even allowed Head Coach Pat Kelly to pull his starters in the first half to get some of his reserves some playing time.
Morgan Hunt hit both of his free throws and added a couple assists and couple rebounds. Miyo Castro added five points on 3-4 free-throw shooting and four rebounds. Zack Kmetz also scored a bucket and a board in limited action.
“That’s how were supposed to play,” exclaimed Chandler.
Bell attributed the win to added focus.
“We’re so focused right now,” explained Bell. “We’re spreading the court and that’s giving us more options — especially with J.P (Jeremy Purnell) developing his big-man status. It starts in practice and is all coming together.”
Purnell played his best all-around game thus far this season. Offensively, he is still coming around and scored nine points on 3-9 from the field but covered himself by hitting 4-5 from the charity stripe. He also pulled down seven rebounds (three offensive), two steals and blocked six shots.
Laurel’s Chris Hall scored a team-high 14 points on 4-6 shooting from the arch but that was because no one else on the team was able to score with Purnell patrolling the paint.
Jeramy Bagwell was second on the team with eight points (4-10) and those points would come easy. But Indian River didn’t allow Hall or Bagwell any points in the fourth quarter.
Since Purnell is their only legitimate big-man, Kelly and his team know that to compete in the conference, they will have to play high-level defense and convert in transition. They tried the press in their 51-41 loss to McDonough on Dec. 30 but the Rams were able to break the pressure.
“McDonough was a solid well-balanced team and we haven’t seen guard-play like that before,” Kelly said. “Eight of us got together on the New Year’s Eve to work on our press because it’s part of what we’re going to do.”
McDonough’s trio of guards combined for 30 of its 51 points but was able to negotiate the Indians’ frantic defense and control the tempo of the game — something Laurel wasn’t able to do.
“We did a good job containing (Hill and Bagwell) but I guarantee you they’ll be ready for us when we play them again,” said Kelly. “The one thing about the Henlopen Conference is that there are so many top-level teams that we have to come to play every night.
The 5-2 Indians will travel to Delmar for a 7:15 p.m. game on Jan. 8 and host Smyrna for a rematch of their season-opener on Dec. 10.