Midway through the second quarter in Friday’s game, Westminster trailed Manchester Valley by three points and was mired in a turnover-laden stretch of basketball.
None of the Owls seemed fazed.
The home team felt confident its pressure would start producing more offense. And even if Westminster forced the issue when it had possession, the mistakes could be limited.
The Owls finished that second quarter with nine turnovers. They ended it on a 17-4 run to take control of the Mavericks en route to a 70-46 victory.
“The coaches always say at the beginning of the game, we want to pressure,” said guard Drue Glies, who led Westminster with 20 points. “Even if they go on a run, we still pressure the ball. That’s what we do. … Hope for turnovers, get in the passing lanes.”
Manchester Valley dealt with the pressure rather well for most of the first half, but Giles and his teammates got things going with 4 minutes to play in the half. The senior got to the free-throw line on back-to-back possessions, and sank four shots to give the Owls (9-4, 5-1 Carroll County Athletic League) a 20-19 lead.
After a missed shot by the Mavericks, Giles scored again on the next trip down the court. Fellow guard Terrence McDonald converted a layup with 2 minutes to play, and the Owls led 24-21.
Westminster put together an 11-2 scoring run in the final 2 minutes, and Giles’ runner at the buzzer made it 33-23 at the break.
Man Valley (3-10, 2-4) had quality looks at the basket in the first half, but came up empty on a few short-range shots that led to the Owls streaking the other way.
“We picked up a couple fouls on a couple key kids and that hurt a little bit of the rotation,” Mavericks coach Bernie Koontz said. “We played well there in the beginning. In the second quarter they went on a little run, and we couldn’t answer.”
Hunter Olshefski led the Mavs with 14 points, and Brett DeWees netted 10.
McDonald and Giles combined for nine points in the third quarter, and senior Jacob Busic made his presence felt under the basket with four of his six blocks in less than a 2-minute span.
Westminster’s backcourt has been an asset of late — McDonald, who came over from Winters Mill before the season, was fresh off a 21-point effort in the Owls’ 69-68 win Tuesday over Urbana, a game in which he sank seven 3-pointers; and Giles raised his scoring average to 16.2 points per game after Friday’s performance.
“They’re definitely jelling,” Owls coach Brett Kanther said. “They can put a lot of pressure on the ball offensively and defensively. They’re both very unselfish.”
Giles had four assists, and McDonald collected four steals. Joe Wright finished with 13 points and five rebounds, and Busic grabbed seven boards. Christian Etchison added five rebounds.
“I really like this group from the neck up,” Kanther said. “Their basketball IQ, overcoming adversity — I mean, we were down 20 to Urbana and we came back and won.”
Westminster travels to Francis Scott Key on Tuesday before getting Century at home next Friday. Giles said the Owls are rounding into form with the second half of the CCAL schedule in view.
“We’ve been moving the ball a lot better on the offensive side,” Giles said. “In practice, we’ve been drilling [and] drilling. I feel good. I’ve been getting a lot of assists lately … I like passing to my teammates”
Manchester Valley (46): Jonathan McGregor 4, Dayne Joontz 4, Brett DeWees 10, Hunter Olshefski 14, Jarad Rink 2, Thomas Murray 3, Dahon Sanders 9.
Westminster (70): Drue Giles 20, Terrence McDonald 7, Denio Blaney 16, Joe Wright 13, Jacob Busic 1, Michael Prozeller 9, Christian Etchison 4.