Ballard isn’t a team that normally looks for 3-pointers, but it should put head coach Billy Rodgers’ mind at ease that the Beavers are able to hit open looks from outside.
Ballard took advantage of a Skyline defense that put an emphasis on clogging the middle by hitting 8-of-10 3-pointers on Tuesday night en route to a 58-39 home win.
With a frontcourt that boasts the likes of 6-foot-7 Josh Campbell, the Beavers (3-0) like to work the ball inside. But it was evident early that open looks would be had from beyond the arc.
“I’m proud of them because I think they’re kind of understanding,” Rodgers said. “Sometimes it takes teams a while to figure out what’s your strengths, what’s your weaknesses, how do you want to play. For us, we’ve been able to buy in quicker, so we’re having a little more success early.”
Skyline (2-1) was able to close Ballard’s lead to 29-24 with 5:26 left in the third quarter, the closest it had been since midway through the second quarter, but the Beavers went on a 13-6 run to end the third. The Spartans never got closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
Skyline’s comeback bid was thwarted by a miserable night at the free throw line. The Spartans shot 13-for-30 from the charity stripe, going just 1-for-9 in the fourth-quarter.
“We were 13-of-30 from the free throw line which is tough, but I think Ballard just outworked us tonight,” Skyline coach Maui Borden said. “They were tough, they fought through screens, got in our face and contested every shot. And then they shot the ball pretty well. Kind of put those things together and it’s going to be a tough night for us. We took one on the chin tonight. They just outworked us.”
Ballard built an early lead using two first-quarter 3-pointers from Sean Eriksen, who finished with 12 points, and a stifling defense that allowed only two field goals.
Despite turning the ball over 14 times, Ballard handled the Skyline full-court press well for most of the night. Once the Beavers got into half-court sets, they used the presence of Campbell inside, as well as the aggressiveness of forwards Chase Deger and Nick Brown to force the Spartans perimeter players to help inside. Ballard didn’t force contested shots and was able to find open perimeter shooters.
Deger led all scorers with 15 points, while Brown had 10 and 13 rebounds.
Blake O’Brien led Skyline with 11 points.
“We definitely know we got a lot of work to do we haven’t faced the best opponents; we got Garfield coming up,” Deger said. “We definitely … still working hard and everything, but it’s definitely good for us [to start 3-0], definitely very happy where we’re at right now.”