DU QUOIN — Stifling. Suffocating. Dominating.
Pick your adjective. They all apply to Pinckneyville’s active, aggressive and physical zone that essentially eliminated Du Quoin’s offensive play in a 64-28 Panthers win in SIRR Mississippi action.
“It’s the first time we’ve really broken out our match-up zone,” said Pinckneyville coach Bob Waggoner. “We really wanted to make them shoot from the perimeter, take away their penetration. I thought watching them they’d struggle from the outside. We didn’t really even give them too many looks because our kids covered and communicated well.”
Du Quoin coach Jason James didn’t argue that point.
“You can tell why they are second in the state,” said Du Quoin coach Jason James. “They close the gaps well. We couldn’t get shots off and if we did get a good look, they ran out and contested it. We had a hard time getting anything to fall in the first half.
“They’re good. They move. They fly. They flash hard. They do what they’re supposed to be doing.”
The game was essentially decided in the first five minutes of play.
Pinckneyville bolted out to a 13-0 lead. In the meantime, Du Quoin didn’t struggle as much with shooting as actually finding a shot. By the time the first half ended, the Indians had just two field goals and 12 turnovers.
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“Each shot became more important for them, and you could tell whenever they missed they got tighter and tighter,” Waggoner said. “I really felt for us it was important for us to contain it and make sure we attacked on the offensive end.
“I thought we were very aggressive attacking them and getting the open look and making shots.”
The Panthers’ opening 13-0 salvo was jump started by Devin Kitchen’s 3-pointer less than a minute into the game. Dre Scott sandwiched a pair of scores around another Kitchen hoop before Ben Restoff and Grant Tanner capped the drive.
Du Quoin finally got on the board at the 1:57 mark when Wade Roberson converted an offensive rebound.
“It was an uphill battle,” James said. “You know against good teams like that, when you’re down 13, it’s more like 30. You have to fight and scratch just to get back in the game. They ran the floor well and got open looks and layups.”
The first quarter ended with Pinckneyville holding a commanding 18-4 lead.
The break between periods provided Du Quoin with little relief as Pinckneyville again scored the first 13 points of the quarter. The lead had expanded to 18-4 by the time Braeden Pursell hit a pair of free throws with 1:31 remaining in the half.
At halftime, Pinckneyville enjoyed a 36-6 edge. And, Du Quoin was never able to chip away the lead in the second half.
Tanner led the Panthers with a dozen points while Dawson Yates finished with 11 and Kitchen had 10.
Nathan Riley came off the bench to score 12 for Du Quoin.
On Twitter: @LesWinkeler