Things ended a lot better than they started Tuesday night for the Davenport Central boys basketball team.
Davenport West surprised the Blue Devils by opening the game with a zone look defensively and as Central settled for jumpers and misfired on the first nine shots it attempted, the Falcons scored the game’s first 10 points.
The lead didn’t last.
The Blue Devils answered with a 33-5 run on their way to a 72-47 victory in the Mississippi Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
“Once we got away from just launching threes and started to play the way we need to play, we got ourselves back in it,’’ Central coach Craig Wurdinger said. “Credit West, they gave us a look we weren’t ready for and we didn’t handle it well.’’
The Blue Devils’ first points came on a putback by John Miller with 2 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
By the time Kaiden Phillips beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer at the end of the first, Central had taken an 11-10 lead and never looked back.
“Once they were able to set up their press after made baskets, it really seemed to get them going,’’ West coach David Robinson said.
“We came out ready, we battled, but the pressure they threw at us in the second and third quarters, it was too much for us. Their experience and our inexperience really showed then.’’
The Blue Devils played their way into a comfortable lead by working the ball inside and either scoring by attacking the basket or by making the most of second chances on the offensive glass.
Three-point plays by Diontral Wommack and Phillips just past the midpoint of the second quarter fueled a run of 15 unanswered points that led Central to a 33-15 lead on a basket by Keshawn Pegues with 2:18 remaining in a first half which ended with the Blue Devils ahead 35-20.
“Once we settled down and started to attack the rim, I felt we our guys got back to playing the way we wanted to play,’’ Wurdinger said. “Our athletes were getting up and down the court, running and doing what we’re capable of doing.’’
Central, led by 18 points from Phillips and 17 from Pegues, connected on 14 of its final 26 shots in the opening two quarters on its way to its third victory in as many games this season.
A buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Josh English at the end of the third quarter extended the Blue Devils’ lead to 52-34 against a West team which had committed 22 of its 28 turnovers by that point.
“It was a ‘Welcome to the MAC’ game for a lot of our guys,’’ Robinson said. “We’ve got a lot of young players who are learning to compete at this level and I like that we continued to battle. We’re learning every day and we’ll learn from this, too.’’
Jamil Haymond and Malik Westerfield led the Falcons (0-2) with 14 and 11 points, respectively.