Christmas tournament: Oak Ridge's early flurry buries Bell City

Thursday, December 30, 2010
Oak Ridge's Kyle Rohde tries to keep a rebound away from Bell City's Alan Michael Hess during the third quarter Wednesday. (Fred Lynch)

Oak Ridge stomped on Bell City early and never let up.

The Blue Jays opened a 25-point lead in the first quarter and cruised to a 77-33 victory Wednesday in a consolation bracket semifinal at the Southeast Missourian Christmas tournament.

"That was the game," Bell City coach Nate Wills said about the first quarter. "We weren't ready to play. Oak Ridge, give them a lot of credit, they came out, put a lot of pressure on us and we didn't respond well."

Oak Ridge attacked the inside early. Junior Kyle Rohde converted layups, scoring eight of his team's first 12 points.

"After I had two bad games this week, it just felt good," said Rohde, who finished with a game-high 16 points. "It was a big lifter for me."

Oak Ridge coach Adam Stoneking enjoyed watching Rohde's turnaround Wednesday after he struggled earlier in the tournament. He'd scored a combined nine points in the Blue Jays' first two tournament games.

"Kyle finished everything inside today," Stoneking said. "Everything. He had a rough day [Tuesday]. He finished with a basket and just turned it around completely. That's what you like to see."

Stoneking said the key to the Blue Jays' success is the way Rohde and Ryan Below play inside. The team enjoys its most success when the two post players hit shots inside to take pressure off Oak Ridge's guards.

"When Kyle has played well or Ryan has played well, we usually have a decent game," Stoneking said. "We're there. We have a chance to win or we win. When they struggle, we tend to struggle."

Bell City tried to force Oak Ridge to work the ball inside to limit the Blue Jays' guards. That helped Rohde increase his productivity Wednesday.

"They knew we were trying to take away some of their perimeter players so they were trying to expose us on the interior, which was smart," Wills said. "They did have some size on us in the post. We're not extremely tall, and the one big kid we do have is extremely inexperienced. He's never played before."

Bell City adjusted its defensive strategy to slow down Rohde inside. Oak Ridge just changed its offense by attacking from the outside.

"When you can make some shots early, it makes a difference," Stoneking said. "It completely takes them out of what they want to do. They go box-and-one early on, which really kind of spaces the floor. We were able to get a couple inside baskets off pick-and-roll. It opened up for us outside, and Lucas [Rohde] and Caleb [Elam] just knocked them down."

Caleb Elam drained a pair of 3-pointers while Brett Thomas and Lucas Rohde both hit one to help fuel Oak Ridge's first-quarter domination. Elam finished with three treys and 11 points in the contest.

"Me and coach were talking about me getting my legs into my shot and just getting fluid," Elam said. "I was out there shooting 3s and stuff. He told me to practice shooting them, and it just clicked today."

Oak Ridge shot 55 percent (12 of 22) from the field in the first quarter, while Bell City only managed seven shots from the floor in the opening eight minutes.

"I think we came out too hesitant and they capitalized," Wills said. "They hit a lot of shots. They came out and they got their turnovers off the press and that gave them a lot of confidence to hit shots."

Bell City never regrouped after its slow start, and the fourth quarter was played with a running clock. Oak Ridge attempted 17 more shots in the first half, thanks in large part to a 12-2 advantage in turnovers before halftime.

"We talked about getting out there, setting the tempo, making them do what we want them to do and not letting them run any kind of an offense," Stoneking said. "You jump on a team early and they get back on their heels and they're trying to score 10 points on every shot."

Sophomore Jerad Yates led the Cubs with nine points.

Bell City81168--33
Oak Ridge3014249--77

BELL CITY (33) -- Jerad Yates 9, Cody Adams 5, Terrance Johnson 5, Alan Michael Hess 4, Josh Overbey 4, Chris Carpenter 4, Eddie Dembowski 2. FG 13. FT 5-6. F 16. (3-pointers: Yates 1, Johnson 1. Fouled out: none)

OAK RIDGE (77) -- Garrett Matthews 3, Stephen Bolen 5, Caleb Elam 11, Lucas Rohde 8, Jacob Light 12, Ryan Below 5, Brett Thomas 15, Kyle Rohde 16, Jake LeGrand 2. FG 28. FT 11-15. F 6. (3-pointers: Matthews 1, Bolen 1, Elam 3, L. Rohde 2, Light 1, Thomas 2. Fouled out: none)

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