MURPHYSBORO – Jeremy House scored a game-high 23 points to lead Murphysboro to a 54-35 win over Chester on Wednesday at the Ernie Bozarth Memorial/Trico Tournament.
But the story of this game was defense. The Red Devils played excellent half-court defense and held the Yellow Jackets to just 16 points through the first three quarters.
“That’s what we pride ourselves on,” said Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy. “Some nights you might not be very good offensively, but the one thing you can do is come out and play defense every night. I think we’ve played better each game in our first three games. I’m pretty happy about that, but we’ve got to get better in a lot of areas.”
House hit a jump shot and made a basket in transition during an 8-0 Murphysboro run in the first quarter. The Red Devils led 15-5 after a triple from Jaron Gaston at the 5:43 mark of the second quarter.
Last season, House was primarily a big-time scorer. He appears to have improved his overall game this year.
“Jeremy lost 35 pounds this summer all on his own with his own workout program,” Murphy said. “I bet he had seven steals or deflections in the first half tonight. I was blown away with him defensively. I hadn’t been getting that from him as much in the past. I thought he played as complete of a game as I’ve seen him play.”
Drake Bollman converted a three-point play for Chester, which cut the Murphysboro lead to 15-8. But the Yellow Jackets didn’t score another point for nearly five minutes of game time.
A tip-in from House made it 22-10 Murphysboro, and Chester’s Keith Kiner III ended the scoring slump with a basket at the 1:15 mark of the second quarter.
In the third quarter, House threw down a dunk in transition during a 9-0 Murphysboro run. DeMari Greenwood finished off the streak with a three-point play, which gave the Red Devils a 21-point cushion.
Greenwood finished with 13 points for Murphysboro (3-0).
“He’s going to score now, and last year he was kind of the garbage guy,” Murphy said. “We are throwing him the ball this year, and he’s making good post moves and scoring and beating people off the dribble. He worked his tail off all summer, too.”
Other than the fact that the Red Devils missed 15 shots at the rim, it was a pretty good night for the home team.
The Yellow Jackets (1-1) played better in the fourth quarter on offense. But the squad already trailed by 22 points by that time.
Jaron Gaston added 11 points for Murphysboro. Bollman and Colin Wingerter tallied eight points apiece for Chester.
In the early game, Dalton Lambert scored 15 points to lead Harrisburg to a 48-26 win over Red Bud. The Bulldogs improved to 3-0 in the tournament.