BENTON — Basketball as taught and played by Bob Waggoner’s Pinckneyville teams is generally a five-man operation.
“We have to team-guard,” he said. “We have to team-rebound and make sure people don’t get second chances against us. Offensively, we have to share the ball. When we do that, we’re hard to guard because we always have at least three guys who can shoot the ball.”
But Wednesday night, Grant Jausel shouldered a bit more of the load than usual to help the Panthers pull away from shorthanded Sesser-Valier on the second night of the 45th Benton Invitational Tournament.
Scoring 12 of his game-high 26 points in the second quarter, Jausel paced Pinckneyville to its 18th win in 19 games, a 64-35 decision at Rich Herrin Gym.
Jausel did just about all his damage around the goal, belying his slight 6-2 frame. The lefthander added nine rebounds, turning them into nine second-chance points, and his zeal to attack the glass helped wear down and eventually wear out the Red Devils.
“Really did a nice job on the offensive glass and rebounded the ball well defensively,” Waggoner said of Jausel. “He attacked and was very aggressive, which he needs to be.”
J.C. Moll added 12 points for the Panthers, which were pushed for nearly a half by a Sesser-Valier team that again toiled without junior guard Tyler Winchester. An explosive scorer, Winchester has been under the weather, although he could return on Friday night.
The Red Devils (11-7) were able to hurt Pinckneyville for portions of the first half by getting dribble penetration, trailing just 17-14 after a quarter as senior Preston Launius scored six points and helped handle the ball against the Panthers’ pressure.
But Pinckneyville eventually pushed Sesser-Valier’s offense out to the point where its patterns couldn’t work. The Red Devils started settling for shots off one-on-one moves, or turning the ball over. They scored just 21 points over the last three quarters and finished the night with 20 turnovers.
Lukas Gunter led Sesser-Valier with nine points. They managed only 11 field goals and missed on all of its eight 3-point tries.
The game was played with a continuous running clock for the final 5:50 after the Panthers pushed the lead to 31 points. They should receive a stiffer test Friday night in the late game against Meridian, who beat Hamilton County 63-54 in the first game Wednesday.
“I think our guys are looking forward to it,” Waggoner said.