Coach Eliot Smith of Lick-Wilmerding High School thought it out, and committed to it.
He decided two days ago that in the Tigers’ nonleague home game against Internatonal on Tuesday, he was going to have a new set of starters.
It seemed like an odd strategy for a boys’ basketball team off to a 7-3 start. But with the 55-18 victory his club pulled out against the Jaguars (2-4), it seemed very fitting.
The score after the first frame was 10-3, then the original starters came in, very hungry to play. So hungry they didn’t allow a single International point and put 22 points on the board to seize a commanding 32-3 at the half.
“Our goal tonight was to get everybody in to play,” Smith said. “So we started the guys who don’t start so they could feel what it’s like to be a starter and so they could understand that we’re all about trust.”
The Jaguars offense had trouble all night with the Tigers’ full-court pressure defense, and after the gap widened, they struggled against the Tigers’ zone.
“Lick just came out tonight and played a great game,” International coach Alexandre Iljas said. “They got after it; they wanted it a lot more than we wanted it.”
While International’s offense was woeful throughout the game, they did get a spark and 12 second-half points from senior Maxwell Drolet, all on 3-pointers.
The story of the night was David Allen, who usually isn’t a starter and wasn’t Tuesday either. Allen came off the bench early and scored nine of his team’s 10 first-quarter points. He was a crucial spark because when he entered the game four minutes into the first quarter, it was still scoreless.
“I just got a lot of nice passes that put me in a good position to score, and when I had my space I took it, [and] it went in,” Allen said.
Senior captains Isaiah Boone and Phillip Stone Jr. came off the bench for the Tigers and finished with 10 and 7 points, respectively.
“Coach told us right before the game that we needed to be ready to be a threat at all times, [and] that we had to be ready to produce, so that was the mindset I used, and it worked out well for us tonight,” Boone said.
While the Tigers’ win was impressive, they don’t have much time to celebrate as they have a game Thursday against a tough Piedmont (8-1) team. The Jaguars next play in the Surf ’N Slam tournament in San Diego Dec. 26-28.
“Next game on our schedule is Piedmont, and we always say next game is our toughest game, and Piedmont will be a challenge for us, and we’ll be ready,” Smith said.
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