BLUFFTON — Bluffton head coach Todd Boblitt said the Pirates were chomping at the bit to get the season started and once the Pirates found their rhythm offensively and defensively they rolled to an 80-48 victory over Bath on Friday night.
Bath, who already had two games under their belt, stayed with the Pirates for a quarter and a half but soon turnovers and the hot hand of Mason Soper and Luke Denecker helped propel the Pirates to the big win.
“The first game is always tough on how you are going to come out and I thought our games came out and played with the right intensity and played with some emotions but our shots didn’t fall early,” Boblitt said. “We didn’t do a good job communicating defensively what we were in … and I kind of think we did a much better job in the second half.”
Bath falls to 0-3 on the season and Wildcat head coach Adam Burris said this team is still developing.
“I think we held them in check for a little in the first half and then it was kind of snowball effect with three minutes to go ,” Burris said. We had a couple of turnovers and they had a couple of fast break layups and a two point lead turned into a 13 point lead going into halftime. We had to play uphill from there and they pressured us out of our comfort zone and we have to learn to withstand and get better at that.”
After one period, Bluffton held a slim 14-12 lead and at the 3:56 mark of the second quarter, the Wildcats, thanks to some hard-nose, aggressive play, owned a 21-20 advantage, the first and only time Bath would own the lead
But less than one minutes later, Bluffton would take the game over. With 2:53 left in the half, the Pirates were ahead 25-23 and then reeled off a 14-3 run to close out the second stanza and go into halftime with a 39-26 advantage.
Pirate Mason Soper got the run going with a two pointer and then after a Bath steal came down and dunked the ball to electrify the near capacity crowd. From there the Pirates were in command and finished off the second quarter with seven straight points.
Two big high arching 3-pointers by Levi Hohenbrink in the right corner to open the second half pretty much sealed the deal for the Pirates.
Offensively, the Pirates saw four different players score in double digits with Soper, who grabbed nine rebounds, finishing with a game-high 22 points. Denecker, who was held scoreless in the first eight minutes, finished with 20 points. Jared Piercefield and Hohenbrink each finished with 11 points,
While the offense took about a quarter and a half to heat up, the Pirates defense was continually smothering the Bath players and forced numerous turnovers. The Wildcats finished with 22 turnovers on the night.
“Our guys were eager to get out there and play in our first home game and I thought we did a lot of things well and I am sure we will see some things on film we need to work on,” Boblitt said. “We were just trying to find our own footing and we really didn’t know what we were going to see tonight and that is typical on opening night. You are never are sure what you are going to get even with this veteran group but I was proud of our kids they way they handled business.”
Jonah Wauben was the leading scorer for Bath with 16 points and Derrick Grigsby ended the night with 12 points.
Burris said that they have hung with teams for the most part but the Wildcats need to learn how to finish.
“We have to put our kids in a position to win a ballgame and just execute well,” Burris said. “We are getting there its a a what have you done for me lately and we have to do the process and continue to get better each day.”