Gaston boys ground Faith Bible 65-43
Like the girls game before them, Gaston's boys contest versus Faith Bible wasn't close. But luckily for Greyhound supporters, this time, the shoe was on the other foot.
Gaston (9-10, 5-8) quickly jumped-out to a double-digit lead and sustained it for the game's entirety, defeating the home Falcons 65-43 Saturday, Jan. 27, at Forest Hills Lutheran School near Cornelius.
Junior Riley Marshall led the visiting Greyhounds with 22 points and nine rebounds. He was assisted by teammates Tristan Lund, Jeremy Spidal and sophomore Getnet Gottschalk, who all finished in double figures, registering 13, 10 and 12 points respectively. But while getting buckets on the offensive end, it's defensively that had Gaston head coach Jake McGraw smiling about his team's performance after the game.
"I was really impressed with our half court man-to-man defense tonight," said McGraw. "We're doing a much better job of denying the paint, denying cutters, fighting through screens. The third quarter got sloppy and they got a lot of layups, but if you take that away, our defensive effort was outstanding."
It wasn't all roses for the Greyhounds. Despite a positive review from their coach, McGraw — like any good coach — also pointed out some the negatives that did and have plagued his team throughout the 2017-18 season.
"Offensively, we scored a lot of points, but a number of those came not in the half-court but rather off of turnovers, and we missed a lot of free throws and lay ups," said McGraw. "Offensive efficiency has really played a part in our struggles this year. We sometimes choose our shots poorly, taking the first look opposed to working for the best shot. And when that quick shot doesn't go in, they're coming our way with a lot of energy and, in a lot of cases, getting easy buckets."
However, it didn't hurt them on this night. After getting the first bucket of the game from sophomore guard Joseph Suh, Faith (4-15, 2-10) failed to score for the remainder of the first quarter and didn't again until well into the second, when junior co-captain Caleb Predmore got a basket in the lane to make the score 18-4.
It didn't get much better after that, as the Greyhounds continued to haunt the Falcons with pressure defense, and with help from Marshall, Lund and Gottschalk coupled with unrivaled tenacity, Gaston took a 3-14 lead to the half.
"We've been drilling home defense and getting guys in better positions, so were happy with the strides we've made there," said McGraw. "We're working on being relentless and outworking our opponents. I think that showed tonight with the amount of second-chance opportunities we got, plus guys getting on the floor for loose balls and making things happen."
Faith showed some life in the third quarter, springing from the gate with two quick baskets from Suh and junior post Isaac Robinson. But while Faith giveth, Gaston quickly taketh away, scoring 11 of the game's next 13 points to take a lead as large as 48-20 lead. Ultimately, the Greyhounds took a 20-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Marshall scored first for the Greyhounds to start the fourth, and after Faith's sophomore wing Caleb VanderGiessen answered with four straight points, Lund scored on a floater in the lane and the Gaston reserves were called upon to end what the starters began three quarters prior.
Now it is up to Gaston to run with the momentum created from a much-needed win.
After five straight league defeats had dropped the Hounds to sixth place in the Northwest League, McGraw hopes this win and the way his team got it will snowball into a winning streak capable of springboarding them into the league playoffs with a little momentum to do some damage.
"We need to control the controllables and get everybody back in," said the coach. "We've got too many guys arguing with officials, arguing with other players, with fans, and that's the kind of stuff that we just can't have."
He added, "If we get the type of effort we got tonight, then couple that with more efficient offensive possessions, we can be very tough. We're aiming for that five- or six-seed, which isn't an easy path, but we know we can play with those teams — it's just a matter of sustaining an effort for all four quarters."
Gaston next plays Life Christian after this paper's press deadline Jan. 30, while traveling to City Christian Jan. 31 before hosting Vernonia Feb. 3 at 5:30 p.m.
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