A 21-0 run start sparked a dominant 75-21 victory for Mountain Pine Wednesday night, defeating Mount Ida and extending the team's winning streak to eight games.
"What I wanted to do from the jump was come out, apply defensive pressure and establish our dominance from the gate," Mountain Pine head coach LaMont Page said. "Our goal is to hold every team we play under double figures every quarter. If we can execute a press like that every night, we'll be fine."
Red Devils senior Dafavioun Haywood's first bucket opened the floodgates for Mountain Pine, who saw six different players score in the first quarter, including eight points from junior Josh Walpole, en route to a 21-0 lead.
Midway through the first quarter, Mountain Pine (12-1, 3-0 Class 7-2A West) pulled its starting five, gaining crucial experience for its depth.
"I saw [our bench players] being aggressive," Page said. "I tell them all the time that when you get into the game, it's your time to shine. I tell them to go in and be aggressive because you never know when you'll be needed later in the year."
Mount Ida senior Colton Stipe stopped the bleeding late in the first quarter, scoring the first Lions basket of the ballgame.
In the second quarter, Mount Ida (0-1) found a groove, scoring 14 points, but the deficit had already grown too large to overcome. In the second half, Mountain Pine's defense held the Lions to just four points.
"Our team prides itself on defense," Mountain Pine senior Matt Snow said. "Offensively, we try to run the break. That's what we're good at. When our offense gets rolling, everything falls into place."
For the second consecutive night, Walpole led the Red Devils with 21 points, including an impressive third quarter effort where the junior scored six points in less than six seconds.
"Our defense, our hustle and our ability to capitalize on turnovers made the difference tonight," Walpole said. "We've been practicing hard and we think that will contribute forward into the rest of the season."
"We call Walpole our glue," Page said. "I call him plastic man. We have a couple of nicknames for him. He's like a Swiss Army knife. He can play multiple positions and can guard multiple positions. This was his second-straight night finishing with 21 points. When he has it going, he can do anything--finish with either hand, post up and shoot the jump shot. He does a lot for us and I'm proud of him as a coach."
In addition to Walpole's 21 point effort, senior Lashawn Reed added 10 points with sophomore Dylan Munson adding 8 points for the Red Devils. Junior Gage Dyer led Mount Ida with five points in the loss.
Mountain Pine faces Benton in the Spa City Shootout in Hot Springs Wednesday, Dec. 27 at 11:30 a.m.