PANDORA – Opponents of Pandora-Gilboa are fully aware that the Rockets like to push the tempo.
In Thursday’s Putnam County League boys basketball game, Leipsic slowed Pandora-Gilboa down. But a quick start was all the Rockets needed, as P-G cruised to a convincing 49-24 victory at Pandora-Gilboa.
Drew Johnson, a 6-foot-6 forward, led P-G (7-1, 2-0 PCL) and all scorers with 16 points, including two 3-pointers. Cooper McCullough scored nine points, pulled down five rebounds, dished out four assists and made two steals. Eli Phillips scored nine points and had four boards for P-G.
Clay Gerdeman led Leipsic (2-5, 0-2 PCL) with eight points and four rebounds.
“We were not trying to slow it down,” P-G coach Joe Braidic said. “They (Leipsic) took a lot of time to shoot. I think a lot of teams will try to do that to us. They were deliberate, offensively, because they know we can score so well.
“That (49 points) was probably our lowest output of the year, but we don’t really care. It’s just a matter of wins and losses.”
P-G jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead. McCullough had a 3-pointer in that fast start for the Rockets. At the 2-minute mark, P-G pushed it out to 8-2 on another 3-pointer by McCullough.
Leipsic was just 2-of-8 shooting from the field in the first quarter, to go along with five turnovers. P-G led 10-4 at the first stop.
In the second quarter, P-G pushed out to a 16-4 advantage midway through the stanza. Phillips scored twice down low to help lead the Rockets.
An old-fashioned 3-point play by Johnson at the 3:20 mark gave the Rockets a 19-4 lead. Then, with less than three minutes left in the half, Riley Larcom (five points) hit a 3-pointer to give P-G a 22-4 advantage. P-G went into the halftime break with a 24-6 lead. Leipsic was just 3-of-16 shooting from the field in the first half.
The Rockets extended their lead to 33-9 by the 3:20 mark of the third frame. Johnson hit a 3-pointer to give his team the 24-point advantage.
Moments later, Johnson hit another three to give the Rockets a 38-13 lead with less than three minutes to play in the third period.
In the final quarter, the Vikings actually outscored the Rockets 11-9.
Braidic realized that his team could not take Leipsic lightly.
“They played Miller City well. They played North Baltimore well. They have a good coaching staff. With them being one of our rivals, they are going to be ready to play us. We wanted to get them down early, so they wouldn’t get any confidence,” he said.
For the game, P-G shot 45 percent from the field, while Leipsic shot 26 percent.
Leipsic held the slight edge on the boards, 28-26. Leipsic turned the ball over 16 times, while P-G turned it over 10 times.
“We had two turnovers in the first half,” Braidic said. “They were making us be deliberate to take the good shots. I thought we did a good job of that.”
Braidic said his team, which averages over 60 points a game, is not just offensive-minded.
“We think we play pretty good defensively. We think that makes a difference in a lot of our games. Sometimes when we’re not coming out and hitting shots, our defense will usually carry us — then pretty soon we start hitting shots,” he said.