By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
NEW LONDON ? The New London boys may not have shot the ball extremely well in their district opener against Lone Tree on Thursday night, but the Tigers? speed and athleticism was still too much to overcome.
The Tigers cruised to a 61-37 victory over Lone Tree, punching their ticket to the Class 1A District 9 semifinals.
The New London backcourt came to play early and often. Isaac McSorley scored nine points in the first quarter, and Keontae Luckett added six, to help the Tigers jump out to a 21-12 lead after one quarter.
Lone Tree was able to keep New London from pulling too far away in the first half. The Tigers were cold from outside, but a bundle of offensive rebounds and breakaway layups helped the Tigers to a 35-20 halftime lead. At the break, McSorley was already up to 14 points.
New London?s defense played well all night, but especially so in the third quarter. Lone Tree was held to five points as the Tigers busted the game open and led 50-25 after three periods.
It was smooth sailing from that point forward. New London received seven points from Luckett in the fourth quarter and put the game on ice, knocking the Lions out from postseason play.
After the game, Coach Bryant Porter said the team didn?t play their best, but that a bit more practice will help the team moving forward. The Tigers are still adjusting to the return of star forward Mason Porter, who has now played seven games since coming back from a serious hand injury.
?We weren?t sharp (and) I don?t know what kind of offense we were running, but we?re new getting everybody back,? Porter said. ?It?s going to take us a few more practices, which we?ll get, to fine tune things. I think defensively we played solidly enough to get us through. Sometimes you win ugly, and I guess that?s what we did.?
McSorley finished with 21 points to lead the way. Luckett had 17 and Porter finished with nine. Alex Dentlinger scored six points in the win and Grant Swanson, Koby McBeth, Tyler Henecke and Jalen Birdsell scored two points apiece.
New London will face Notre Dame in the district semifinals in Mt. Pleasant on Tuesday, February 20, at 8 p.m., with Iowa Mennonite and Highland playing in the other semifinal beforehand. The Tigers split with Notre Dame this season but Coach Porter says a loss in early January has stayed in New London?s mind.
?We?re going to come in knowing it?s going to be a tough game,? Porter said. ?We?ve got a bit of revenge on our hearts. They came in to our house and kicked our faces in, and we haven?t forgotten about it.?