By ANGELO VELOTTA
For the Star Beacon
So much for the comforts of home.
The Niles McKinley Dragons invaded Jefferson on Friday night and spoiled the Falcons’ home opener, 75-51.
The Dragons (2-1) stormed out of the gate, capitalizing on being able to constantly get a wide-open man around the arc, and connected on seven first quarter 3-pointers. The quick setup really burned the Falcons time and time again, putting them out of rhythm on the offensive end as well, and making the game 26-10 after one.
“Close out the shooters,” Jefferson coach Jeremy Huber said when asked to explain. “We just didn’t do a good job of closing out.
“Take care of the basketball, too many turnovers.”
The second quarter was very similar to the first, with Jefferson getting some streaks where things were going its way, but then it weren’t keeping up on defense, and needed to get more rebounds.
Jefferson (1-3) played with more vim and vigor in the second half, though the outcome had been decided.
“The kids played with intensity second half,” Huber said.
“Work on playing four quarters,” he added, when asked to elaborate on what needed to be done.
Lucas Hitchcock led the way for the Falcons with 18 points, shooting 9- of 12 from the free-throw line, including making his last 8, and picked up 3 rebounds and had 2 steals. Troy Bloom added 10 points with two 3’s, and had 2 steals, David Chase added 8 points and 5 rebounds, and Justin Butler scored 7 and had 3 rebounds.
As for the Dragons, several players stepped up ,especially from behind the 3-point line.
As a team, they shot 11 of 19 from behind the arc, led by Chris Parry going 5 for 5 and James Tate hit three.
“We haven’t shot well yet. It finally paid off,” Niles coach Ron Price said. “(We need to) keep shooting, feel good about shot, shoot the 3 with speed.
“We are a quick team, push ball, trap a lot.” added.
Ray Russ led the way for the Dragons with a huge 24 points, 6 rebounds and 7 steals.
“Russ is our leader, he and Gamble are captains,” Price said. “(He has a) high basketball IQ, unselfish, (he’s) a good player.”
“I just stayed with my man and helped my teammates,” Russ said. “Our shot was falling tonight.”
Chris Parry added 19 points for Niles McKinley, James Tate scored 12.
Velotta is a freelance writer from Concord Township.