After his team was held to just 19 first-half points on 5-for-18 shooting, Pleasant Valley head coach Steve Hillman implored his team to move the basketball better in the second half of Friday’s game against Clinton.
His Spartans came out of the halftime break and scored on their first seven possessions of the third quarter, stretching a seven-point halftime lead into a 22-point advantage. Pleasant Valley rolled from there to a 54-25 win.
“The first half was OK offensively, but we made two or three selfish plays,” Hillman said. “Guys were trying to do their own thing, and that’s now how we’re going to do it this year. We’ve decided we’re going to play as a team and we’re going to play together offensively. We harped that a little bit, and in the second half you saw us making extra passes. If guys were doubled, they moved the ball. We got open shots.”
Senior guard Hunter Snyder opened the second half by driving in from the left wing for a layup. Carter Duwa, who was held without a field goal in the first half, added a 15-foot jumper a few seconds later. And after Carter Cline scored inside, Duwa nailed a 3-pointer to push the Spartans’ lead to 28-12 and force a Clinton timeout.
“I think when we started sharing the ball more and making the extra pass, it led to good shots,” said Snyder, who scored all nine of his points in the second half. “When you share the ball like that, it helps everyone to get motivated and gives them more confidence to shoot the ball and make it.”
The River Kings (2-6, 2-5 Mississippi Athletic Conference) trailed by just seven points at halftime despite their own lackluster shooting performance (3-for-18 from the field) in the first half. But Clinton head coach Troy Ersland was disappointed with his team’s start to the second half.
“We just folded,” he said. “I thought we were going to come out and really compete in the second half. I thought we competed pretty well in the first half. But they went on a run and we folded.”
Snyder, Duwa and Cline scored nine points apiece, and Jacob Parker added eight points for the balanced Spartans (6-3, 4-3 MAC).
“We’re going to do it together or not do it together,” Hillman said. “It was good to see. I think we made some nice steps in the right direction on both sides of the floor tonight.”
Clinton’s L.J. Henderson had 10 points to lead all scorers, but was held to 3-for-9 shooting. And the River Kings’ leading scorer, senior Bret Myli, was whistled for his third personal foul less than a minute into the second quarter. He finished with just four points in limited playing time.
The Spartans out-rebounded Clinton 33-17 and held the River Kings to their second-lowest scoring output of the season. As a result, Pleasant Valley snapped a two-game skid and started the 2019 portion of the schedule with a much-needed victory.
“I thought we played a lot better than we did before break,” Snyder said. “This was a great game for us coming off break. I think this is a good motivator for us going into Tuesday’s game against Central, which is a big one.”