BETHALTO — Despite a slow start, the Highland Bulldogs earned a lopsided Mississippi Valley Conference victory over the Civic Memorial Eagles on Tuesday night at Civic Memorial.
The Bulldogs (3-2, 1-0) defeated the Eagles (4-2, 1-1) 69-46.
CM established a 5-0 lead in the first two minutes of the first quarter behind a basket from Brett Lane and a trey from JaQuan Adams. David Lane’s three-point play at the 3:08 mark gave the Eagles a 10-4 advantage, but the momentum turned on the next possession, as Brode Portell’s trey ignited a 10-4 run and the score was tied at 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.
“It was a good, quick start for us,” CM coach Doug Carey said. “We made some shots early and that made it look like we were playing better than we were. Then the defense came into play. We just stopped playing defense, especially in the third quarter.”
CM played a full-court defense in the first quarter, but then moved to a zone in the second quarter to try and more effectively guard, said Carey. He also said his team “gambled too much” and “didn’t keep players in front” on defense.
“They were making wide open shots in the paint,” he said. “They weren’t making them outside, they were making them inside and they’re a three-point shooting team.”
Carey also complimented Highland’s passing and said, “they were driving around us quickly.”
He added, “Highland is a good ball club. They’re quick, they can shoot and put five guys on the floor that know how to play, but we didn’t play well. I don’t know what our shooting percentage was, but we turned over the ball 16 or 17 times, we can’t win doing that.”
The Bulldogs continued to build on their lead in second quarter and led 30-22 at halftime.
“I thought we came out a little flat,” Highland coach Matt Elledge said. “We were hesitant and timid in the beginning and then started getting some dribble penetration and found some people open and started to make some shots.”
Highland never lost the momentum in the second half, as it led 53-35 at the end of the third quarter and outscored the Eagles 16-11 in the fourth quarter.
Portell led the Bulldog’s offense with 12 points. Austin Elledge matched him with 12 points and Luke Thies threw in 11. Matt Elledge said he thought his team did a good job of handling CM’s zone in the second half and finding the open man.
“I thought Luke (Thies) got us going early on and I thought Brode Portell did a nice job as well early on,” Matt Elledge said. “He hit some big shots and kept us around. Overall, they really shared the ball tonight. We had three in double figures and others with six or seven, but we did a really nice job of sharing the ball.”
Portell also talked about his team making the most of good opportunities.
“We just got a lot of good shots,” he said. “We had a lot of good layups and transition buckets.”.
For Civic Memorial, Brandon Hampton, David Lane and Ricky Beck each had eight points.
CM will be back in action at 7:30 p.m. Friday against MVC rival Jersey at home.