VIENNA — If your cards add up to 21 in blackjack, you’re a winner. If you score 21 straight points in a basketball game, same thing.
Chester’s boys held all the cards Wednesday night at Vienna, where the Eagles played with a short deck in a 72-40 Black Diamond West rout.
Sparta transfer Keith Kiner scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half to lead four Yellow Jackets in double figures. Chester (5-1, 1-0) canned 53.3 percent of its field goal attempts and used its length to create 27 turnovers, many of which led to transition opportunities.
“We try to cut the floor in half,” Yellow Jackets coach Brad Norman said of his team’s defense. “Our energy tonight was really good. We tried to take advantage of their guard play. They were a little undermanned, so we tried to attack them.”
Vienna’s injury list included Nolan Dahncke (flu), Ben Daine (dislocated kneecap) and Trenton Hyde (foot). Daine and Hyde might not return until January. The absence of Dahncke, a 6-3 senior who offers talent and a steadying influence, probably insured this would not be a competitive game past halftime.
While the Eagles’ patchwork lineup tried, it just couldn’t cope with a more athletic foe.
“The guys we have out are our key ballhandlers,” Vienna coach Cory Waters said. “It’s going to be a learning curve for us until we get those guys back, but hopefully, we’ll be better for it in the end.”
Gabe Snell scored six straight points for the Eagles in the first four minutes to keep them close, but Chester turned it on at that point. Colin Wingerter and Drake Ballman each stroked 3-pointers, while Ian Reith added a pair of buckets and Kiner powered up inside for a couple of layups.
The lead reached 28-6 before Zane Hutchison converted a layup to end the seven-minute run. Kiner, whose only mistake on the night was throwing a pass out of a double-team right to an open referee, drilled a 3 to make the margin 30 just before halftime.
The Yellow Jackets pushed the lead to 36 points late in the third quarter before cruising to the finish line. They also got 12 points from Ballman, plus 10 each from Reith and Nick Heffernan.
Snell tallied a game-high 15 points for Vienna, displaying a good touch from mid-range to go along with some solid post moves.
Norman is eager to see how his team plays Friday night when they host Sesser-Valier in another BDC West matchup.
“It will be a hell of a test,” he said. “They’ll come into our place and give us a good game. They are tough. But I like the fact that we’re thinking next play, and that we’re responding and reacting instead of standing there.”