Home, Sweet Home: Eagles roll past Naaman for first home win
After falling short in its first three home games of the season, the fourth time was the charm for the Allen boys basketball team on Tuesday.
The Eagles overcame a slow start and exploded midway through the second quarter to pace a 61-47 victory over Garland Naaman Forest in front of a jam-packed crowd for their first home win of the season.
"It was good for the kids to get this win," said Jeff McCullough, Allen head coach. "... It was a good win to generate some enthusiasm with our student body and our crowd. They're a great asset for us by creating a little emotion and a different vibe than what we've had here in the past."
After being victimized by four Naaman 3-pointers in the first quarter for a 19-16 Rangers lead, the Eagles surrendered just seven points in the second stanza. Offense came a bit easier thanks in part to forcing nine Naaman turnovers.
"Defensively, we quit taking chances and just played solid," McCullough said. "In the first quarter, guys were taking themselves out of plays and going for steals that weren't there, and that made for some easy buckets for [Naaman]."
The Eagles closed out the first half on a 19-3 run, limiting the Rangers to one field goal over the final six minutes of the second quarter. Allen also bagged five steals in the first half, including three from junior Myron Fisher who added all 13 of his points in the opening half as well.
"All year long, Myron has been our most consistent player," McCullough said. "He's our glue guy and he makes us go. I'm real proud of him and he knows exactly what we're trying to do."
Fisher was one of multiple Eagles to create a steal at midcourt and enjoy an uncontested open-floor layup at the other end, with senior Cameron Epps capping the half by converting a takeaway into a bucket with three seconds left for a 37-26 halftime lead.
"We did what we were supposed to do on defense and that resulted in some easy looks for us on offense," McCullough said. "We also quit forcing shots, slowed down and were more patient with the basketball."
Allen carried the momentum over into the second half, albeit with Naaman offering a stiffer test with its perimeter defense. But despite forcing seven Allen turnovers in the third quarter, the Rangers were never able to close the gap to more than six points at 49-43 late in the frame.
Sophomore Olin Carter put the kibosh on any Ranger rally, draining a 3 with 30 seconds left in the third for a 52-43 advantage. While Naaman's perimeter defense tightened up, it wasn't enough to permit Carter and Epps from having their way inside with the former leading Allen with 15 points and the latter chipping in nine.
The Rangers were paced by Jonathon Basco, who provided 21 points and six rebounds while Donyta Carter scored 12. Naaman was unable to keep up its torrid pace from the opening quarter, only mustering four points in the fourth quarter while the length of Allen juniors Jamuni McNease, Shaun Breland and Nic Castrillon flustered any easy looks inside.
The end result was Allen's first home win of the season, with the team looking to build off the victory at 7:30 p.m. tonight against Southeast Oklahoma in the first round of its home tournament, the Allen Classic.
"We've played our tails off for weeks now," McCullough said. "It's tough to play that hard and not get a win so it was nice to get one tonight and gain a little momentum moving forward for our tournament."
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