Boys basketball: Alter routs GCL Co-ed-leading Roger Bacon

Alter built a 10-point halftime lead Friday night fueled by six 3-pointers. The Knights entered the game shooting only 28.7% from 3-point range.

Could the Knights keep it up in the second half? Cincinnati Roger Bacon, which had yet to lose a GCL Co-ed game this year, had to figure the Knights were due to miss a few. After all, the Knights had made only 5 of 31 in an 18-point loss earlier this season at Bacon.

But the Knights were suddenly confident shooters. As Alter coach Eric Coulter said: “Shooting is all confidence.”

The first time down the floor in the second half, Anthony Ruffolo made a 3-pointer. On the next trip, Gavin Geisel made his fourth 3-pointer. The Knights were up by 16 and Bacon called timeout less than a minute into the half.

A.J. Leen made another 3-pointer a couple minutes later for 17-point lead. Bacon called another timeout. And soon after the timeout, Brian Shane made his first 3-pointer of the season for an 18-point lead.

Bacon wasn’t out of timeouts, but timeouts had become futile. The Knights kept coming, and all the 3-pointers opened up driving lanes and backdoor passing lanes when the Spartans had to switch from zone to man-to-man defense. The lead grew to as large as 24 and the Knights cruised to a 66-53 victory.

“I’ve said many times, when we are hitting shots we are a very good team,” Coulter said. “To reverse the 20-point loss that we took on the road to them and have the night that we had tonight, says a lot about our kids and how bought in they are.”

Alter (9-5, 6-4 GCL) made 11 3-pointers and each starter made at least one. All of Geisel’s 12 points came on threes. Ruffolo made three and scored 11, Leen made two and scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half. Geisel, Ruffolo and Leen are sophomores.

“I’m standing down there waiting for the rebound and they’re all going in,” Shane said. “Can’t complain. It’s great to see all of my teammates scoring.”

Shane, the only senior starter, scored 16 and had two dunks. Shane is a 6-foot-3 leaper who will play football at Miami.

“When he gets in what I call his beast mode, he’s hard to deal with,” Coulter said.

Jacob Conner, the Knights’ 6-foot-9 point guard and most experienced player, made one three, scored nine points and set up his teammates for open shots.

“We were getting a lot of movement on offense and finding the open guy,” Conner said. “It all just came down to hitting open shots.”

Bacon (7-4, 4-1 GCL) matched the Knights in the first quarter and trailed just 17-15. But the Knights’ matchup and 1-3-1 zones made it tough on the Spartans and leading scorer Marjoni Tate Jr. Tate averages 12.7 points a game and scored 14 in the first meeting. Friday he was held to four points.

Alter was 22-4 last year and a district champion. But Conner and Shane are the only returning players with varsity experience. Junior guard Ryan Chew was a starter at Bellbrook, but he played his last game on Jan. 19 and was the Knights’ top scorer at the time at 12.9. Chew must sit out the second half of the season under the state’s transfer rule.

This part of the season is when teams start working toward being tournament ready. The Knights’ shooting wasn’t the only encouraging sign.

“We had a lot of intensity,” Conner said. “We talked about it before the game, watched some film and realized the things that we did wrong last time.”

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